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The Playbirds (1978)

R | | Drama | 1978 (UK)
Two detectives are drawn into the world of porn, while investigating murders of centrefolds...



(screenplay) (as Bud Tobin), (screenplay) (as Robin O'Connor)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mary Millington ...
Chief Superintendent Holbourne
Gavin Campbell ...
Inspector Harry Morgan
Alan Lake ...
Harry Dougan
Assistant Police Commissioner
Kenny Lynch ...
Police Doctor
Suzy Mandel ...
Dougan's Secretary
Penny Spencer ...
W.P.C. Andrews
Michael Gradwell ...
Terry Day
Tony Kenyon ...
Ron Flangan ...
Wilson (as Ron Flanagan)


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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A murder thriller with thrilling bodies! See more »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

1978 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

The Playbird Murders  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


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 »


During Lucy's photo shoot, whenever we see a close-up of the photographer, he is always aiming his camera downwards. Presumably these inserts where shot when Lucy was lying on the ground, but they are edited in such a way that it looks like he's photographing the floor while she is standing up. See more »


Featured in Mary Millington's True Blue Confessions (1980) See more »


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

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User Reviews

KIND OF interesting in spite of itself (a non-British perspective)
9 September 2008 | by See all my reviews

If you're British, this movie no doubt has a lot of baggage attached to it. Two of the lead actors committed suicide soon after, and it was made right at a time when the once vaunted independent British film industry basically imploded. If you're not British, however, this movie is. . .well, pretty damn weird actually. A fanatically religious, horse-obsessed maniac is killing the nude cover girls of "Playbird" magazine. The police are frustrated in their efforts to stop him, so they send a sexy police woman (Mary Millington) under the covers to crack her case--I mean, undercover to crack the case. If you just want to see a lot of naked dolly birds, you certainly won't be disappointed. There are numerous scenes of the magazine's photo shoots, most of which involve a hilarious satanic/witchcraft-oriented theme. And the police don't just take the first attractive volunteer for the undercover job--no, they have to have to "audition" ALL their female staff members for the job before settling on Millington. The movie is obviously sexist (which is par for the course), but it's also surprisingly unpleasant and borderline misogynist. All the girls are topless or naked when they're murdered, for instance (except for one girl whose mini-skirt conveniently rides up while she's being strangled). The most disturbing scene perhaps is one particular magazine pictorial of a naked "witch" being "burned" at the stake which goes horribly awry when the killer comes along and (literally) adds fuel to the fire.

What's most amazing about all this is that there really is (or at least, was) a "Playbird" magazine, and its publisher was the producer of this movie! It's certainly hard to imagine Hugh Hefner, or even Larry Flynt, producing a movie where his own centerfolds are slaughtered in such an often unpleasant manner. (Apparently, all the censorship of sex and violence in Britain over the years hasn't resulted in the sexual attitudes there being any more wholesome than anywhere else--perhaps the opposite). I would also guess the publisher/producer owned a race horse or had some great interest in horse racing--how else to explain the killer's bizarre obsession with horses, which otherwise seems pretty unrelated to anything (or maybe this movie was inspired by the Richard Burton film "Equus" the year before?).

The best (and perhaps only) reason to see this is that it is a good showcase for cult actress Mary Millington. Millington certainly had a nice body, and viewers (like numerous male and female characters in the movie) will become VERY familiar with it. Her generally awkward acting, however, gives no indication of why she became a such a cult figure. On the other hard, it's even more difficult to see why the British moral authorities considered her such a threat to society that they had to harass her to an early demise. I definitely would not recommend going through the time and expense I did to see this movie, but if you happen upon it, it's a good chance to see Millington in action and it's KIND OF interesting in spite of itself.

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