Friday, 14 September 2012



A misconceived fusion of sleazy British softcore pornography and sleazy giallo slasher, in which the porn grinds to a halt for a series of vicious stranglings, both grinds to a halt for a gallery of comfortably familiar TV faces doing their usual thing, and everything grinds to a halt for a string of horse races with close to zero relevance to the rest of the film. And little in the way of jokes: the dreaded grubby British smut comedy has veered into grubby murder territory. Top-billed is the late and legendary Mary Millington who, bless her, can't act, but of course that's really not why she's there.

Who is killing off the centrefold models of Playbirds magazine (a real publication by David Sullivan, the film's executive producer who's namechecked over the racecourse tannoy)? Among the suspects are a creepy-looking photographer, an anti-porn Tory MP, a fulminating street preacher promising hellfire and damnation (Dudley Sutton) or the unspecified business associate (Derren Nesbitt) of the Playbirds managing editor (Alan Lake); the cops on the case include Gavin Campbell (later a regular presenter on That's Life), Glynn Edwards and Windsor Davies. Possibly the best tactic would be to send a WPC (Millington) undercover as the next centrefold....

Quite obviously, The Playbirds is terrible; it's technically nondescript wank fodder existing solely as an excuse for Millington, Suzy Mandel (who, to be honest, I prefer) and several other ladies to disrobe repeatedly; which is fine if you just want to look at their knockers but is actually rather boring if for some insane reason you're trying to treat it as a proper movie. The identity of the murderer is entirely irrelevant, but he/she is unmasked in an ugly and tastelessly gratuitous coda that's bolted onto the end as though they'd forgotten all about it. It's kind of vaguely enjoyable with the nostalgia factor of the late 70s period detail, the footage of Soho at its sleaziest and the sitcom favourites showing up for their cameos, and there's a sweet little relationship developing between Campbell's copper and Mandel's centrefold in peril, but once it cuts back to the tits and bums and horse racing sequences all interest drains away. Really, it's not worth bothering with.



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