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The Playbirds (1978)

R  |   |  Drama  |  1978 (UK)
4.5
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Ratings: 4.5/10 from 110 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 4 critic

Two detectives are drawn into the world of porn, while investigating murders of centrefolds...

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(screenplay) (as Bud Tobin) , (screenplay) (as Robin O'Connor)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Mary Millington ...
Sgt. Lucy Sheridan
Glynn Edwards ...
Chief Superintendent Holbourne
Gavin Campbell ...
Inspector Harry Morgan
Alan Lake ...
Harry Dougan
Windsor Davies ...
Assistant Police Commissioner
...
Jeremy
Kenny Lynch ...
Police Doctor
Suzy Mandel ...
Lena
Ballard Berkeley ...
Trainer
Sandra Dorne ...
Dougan's Secretary
Alec Mango ...
Ransome
Penny Spencer ...
W.P.C. Andrews
Michael Gradwell ...
Terry Day
Tony Kenyon ...
Dolby
Ron Flangan ...
Wilson (as Ron Flanagan)
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Storyline

Two detectives are drawn into the world of porn, while investigating murders of centrefolds...

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A murder thriller with thrilling bodies! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1978 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

The Playbird Murders  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

After being hurled into the swimming pool near the end of the movie by Alan Lake, Diane Foster was taken to hospital, having hit the bottom of the shallow end. The cast seen diving in were attempting a genuine rescue and was not scripted. The ambulance arriving when the scene cut to outside the house was real and was left in the movie. This was documented in a News of the World feature later. See more »

Goofs

During the opening murder, the killer's trousers change pattern between shots. They are plain Grey outside the building, and checkered as soon as he gets inside. See more »

Connections

Featured in Respectable - The Mary Millington Story (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Playbirds
By Johnny Worth (as John Worth) & David Whitaker
Sung by Johnny Worth (as John Worth)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The sad, the bad and the mad - all together in one place!
16 October 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The cover girls of a famous sex magazine are murdered one-by-one and the easily baffled British police can only think of one solution: To send one of their own in undercover.

In the late-70's/early-80's there was a Betamax versus VHS battle which VHS won hands down. When the battle was nearing an end Betamax users threw in the towel and converted flooding the market with old cheap machines with all the tapes that came with it. Through this history I got to see Playbirds not once, but twice.

I hated the 70's - a horrible time for me and this country (the UK). The British film industry had died (to be reborn as a big budget television industry and US workshop) and the video revolution hadn't fully taken off. The only thing getting the punters interested was horror, sex and bawdy comedy -- preferably mixed so that you could justify seeing it more. UK sexual censorship was hard-line, so the films were soft -- as well as cheap and cheerful.

(Playbirds is - indeed - cheap, but they forgot about the cheerful part!)

I am glad that another reviewer pointed out that this is a remake/rip-off because I had thought that the producers had come up with an original idea! Indeed with a bit of rewrite and more talent (or even people that care) you could just about film this as a straight Hammer-style B picture.

There are two camps involved here - the eye-candy talent who know they are not going anywhere and the proper actors who are slumming it, probably as the films producer (David Sullivan) put it "so they didn't have to sign on the dole that week." Being an actor is a frustrating and humiliating business anyway, but this must be like being put on a medieval rack.

*THE BAD*

The film is low budget and clunks from scene to scene with a care usually reserved for television. The treatment of the girls is quite cruel in that while there is a murderer about no one seems to really care too much about it. Even the police can't quite get themselves to wide awake about the case. Suspects are lined up and listed (by an early computer) but the feel is more like a Hammer Horror where sudden death can be forgotten about quickly.

*THE SAD*

It was hard to see Alan Lake without thinking about the tragedy of his later life. Killing himself after losing his well known wife Diana Dorrs to cancer. Same with the nominal lead Mary Millington (the undercover cop) who killed herself rather than be squeezed in a vice created for her by the Inland Revenue (see didn't think she should pay any tax) and the police who were on her trail for a variety of crimes, including (according to Sullivan) drug trafficking. What a happy ship!

*THE MAD*

For unknown reasons the protagonists stop the film to watch horse racing - something that has nothing to do with the plot. To indicate that Millington is up for the undercover job she is required to take all her clothes of in the police station (Scotland Yard?) itself while the two detectives look on!

Yes Playbirds is pretty dreadful, and features pretty dreadful people both sides of the camera. The deaths of the cover girls are treated as a bit of a joke and the whole show ends with a sour and very cruel plot twist.


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