Thursday, 7 October 2010



Probably the premier example of the British sex comedy: a leery smutcom with questionable comedic content and as much skin as they could get away with, but nothing else. It hails from the days when the industry couldn't do hardcore, so it's all tease and no release, all build-up and no punchline, all foreplay and no coitus. So it ends up trying to be terribly coy and terribly dirty at the same time, and the performers have to work doubly hard to avoid straying into obscenity. (That said, there are several appearances by several Mr Happys, though [1] not belonging to anyone famous and [2] not remotely pleased to see you.)

As far as any kind of plot is concerned, Come Play With Me is ostensibly about a couple of counterfeiters (Alfie Bass and auteur George Harrison Marks, who looks like Jim Dale did when he drank the Jekyll potion in Carry On Screaming) who hole up in a quiet Scottish health resort while on the run from London gangsters and the authorities. Except that the resort is soon revitalised when the heir to the estate instals a bunch of uninhibited young women as staff, and then it's all boobs and bums until the end. Two of the girls are noted British sex starlets Suzy Mandell and the late Mary Millington, but the real surprise is how many familiar TV and comedy faces show up, sometimes for just a few lines. Irene Handl, Cardew Robinson, Ronald Fraser, Bob Todd, Henry McGee (as the Deputy Prime Minister!), Rita Webb, Talfryn Thomas, Valentine Dyall..... None of them get their kit off, mercifully. But they're wheeled on to do their stuff, and those bits are kind of okay because they're good at what they do.

Look, it's not remotely funny and despite the acreage of skin it's not even faintly erotic. In technical, filmmaking terms it's primitive point-and-shoot. There's a musical number (with indifferent choreography) and two thirds of the way through one character suddenly goes off to Brighton in drag for no reason at all. The writing's fairly poor and the acting from the girls (and writer-director-producer Marks) is awful; if it wasn't for the likes of Henry McGee coming on and basically doing the usual Henry McGee thing we saw a thousand times on the Benny Hill show it would be completely unwatchable. As it is, it's mainly terrible with tolerable bits.


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