MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Down 1,140 this week

Personal Services (1987)

 -  Comedy  -  15 May 1987 (USA)
6.3
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.3/10 from 837 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 7 critic

The story of the rise of a madame of a suburban brothel catering to older men, inspired by the real experiences of Cynthia Payne.

Director:

Writer:

0Check in
0Share...

Watch Now

$0.00 with Prime Instant Video

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 277 titles
created 13 Mar 2012
 
a list of 15 titles
created 22 Aug 2013
 
a list of 60 titles
created 6 months ago
 

Related Items


Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: Personal Services (1987)

Personal Services (1987) on IMDb 6.3/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Personal Services.
Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 1 win. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Musical | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

An unnamed Traveler boards the Guildford-Waterloo train and proceeds to daydream about his life and of having interactions with his fellow passengers.

Director: Ray Davies
Stars: Tim Roth, Kenneth Colley, Claire Parker
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

The son of a priest slain by the Mau Mau moves in with a police officer and his wife in 1950 Kenya.

Director: Harry Hook
Stars: Bob Peck, Edwin Mahinda, Phyllis Logan
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

In a staid English seaside town after the Second World War, young Lynda grows up with her widowed father and younger sister. Rebellious Lynda has been swearing constantly from an early age.... See full summary »

Director: David Leland
Stars: Emily Lloyd, Trudi Cavanagh, Clare Clifford
Comedy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

The comedy team takes a look at life in all its stages in their own uniquely silly way.

Directors: Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam
Stars: John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  
Director: Curtis Clark
Stars: Bill Haley, Ray Campi, Freddie Fingers Lee
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Set in 1943 Scotland during World War II, Janie is young housewife married to a man named Dongal, 15 years her senior. As part of a war rehabilation program, Janie and Dongal welcome three ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Radford
Stars: Phyllis Logan, Giovanni Mauriello, Denise Coffey
The Inheritance (TV Movie 2010)
Documentary | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  

In a poem, an English girl questions her grandfather about the world he is leaving behind for her.

Director: Terry Jones
Stars: Lauren Bower
Documentary

The result of a meeting between writer, director, historian and Python Terry Jones and economics professor and entrepreneur Theo Kocken. Co-written by Jones and Kocken and featuring John ... See full summary »

Director: Terry Jones
Stars: John Cusack, Terry Jones, Philip Bulcock
Shadey (1985)
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.1/10 X  

A young man discovers that not only does he have the ability to read minds, but that if he holds a camera next to his head he can transmit the thoughts he sees onto film. He strikes a deal ... See full summary »

Director: Philip Saville
Stars: Antony Sher, Billie Whitelaw, Patrick Macnee
The Acrobat (1976)
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Director: Jean-Daniel Pollet
Stars: Claude Melki, Laurence Bru, Micheline Dax
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

May 1917. Sixteen year old Indiana Jones joins an international trio of spies plotting against their German counterparts in the neutral city of Barcelona. After his old acquaintance Pablo ... See full summary »

Directors: Terry Jones, Robert Young
Stars: Sean Patrick Flanery, Tim McInnerny, Amanda Ooms
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

An American woman driving through Sicily to her father's funeral gives a cocky, streetwise kid a lift. His amorous attentions are soon obvious, and leads to a fairly obvious ending.

Director: Vito Zagarrio
Stars: Greta Scacchi, Luca Orlandini, Tim Finn
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Christine Painter
Shirley Stelfox ...
Shirley
...
Wing Commander Morten
Danny Schiller ...
Dolly
...
Timms
Victoria Hardcastle ...
Rose
Dave Atkins ...
Sydney
Ewan Hooper ...
Edward
Alan Bowyer ...
David Painter
Anthony Carrick ...
Edgar (as Antony Carrick)
Beverley Foster ...
Elizabeth
Leon Lissek ...
Mr. Popozogolou
Peter Cellier ...
Mr. Marples
...
Mr. Marsden
Stephen Lewis ...
Mr. Dunkley
Edit

Storyline

The story of the rise of a madame of a suburban brothel catering to older men, inspired by the real experiences of Cynthia Payne.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

brothel | landlord | tax | s&m | pervert | See All (52) »

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

15 May 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Henkilökohtaista  »

Box Office

Gross:

$1,744,164 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Upon theatrical release, the film was banned in Ireland. Only four films have been banned in Ireland, and three of them (Life of Brian (1979), The Meaning of Life (1983), and this film) have been directed by Terry Jones. See more »

Quotes

[At the police station after the raid on the brothel]
Christine Painter: I'm responsible - not the men. You can't expect the men to be responsible. When the balls are full, the brain is empty.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The cast and crew credits are intermingled: successive screens of credits show snapshot photographs of the main characters and the actors who played them, and at the bottom of each screen a few random crew credits are included. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Meaning of Making 'The Meaning of Life' (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Wedding March
(uncredited)
Music by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Hilarious send up of epic proportions!
23 November 2001 | by (San Francisco) – See all my reviews

Personal Services is an exceptional film that has been underrated, ignored and obscured by the avalanche of goon comedies which crowd the late 80's and 90's. Its portrait of a kindly brothel keeper do-gooder (which might be described as the kinky, middle aged s&m version of Austen's Emma) is so packed with outrageous imagery, one could forget to admire its level headed attitude toward sex. The glee it takes at exposing the absolute silliness of adults on the subject, as well as its constant stabs at the hypocrisy of the British middle class makes it stand out. Neither of those subjects are particularly unknown to British comedy, of course, but Personal Services never lets up, and skewers so many shoddy English values at the rate of swatting flies.

The film is a strong departure of style for Terry Jones, its director, whose former The Meaning of Life would lead us to imagine another style altogether. Certainly he is drawn to the material for its surrealistic and madcap flavor, but he surprisingly brings qualities of realism, detail and nitty-grit to the episodes that help keep the film grounded in a believable social milieu.

The script, by David Leland (Mona Lisa) is a fictional account that follows the rise of Cynthia Payne, the English madame who became the darling of the English press after several arrests in the middle 80's. Leland also wrote and directed a film released the same year (Wish You Were Here) which captures Payne in her teen-age years, but Personal Services is much tighter, rapid-fire and more ambitious.

The film veers between outrageous comic episodes and very real emotional moments that reflect the social realist scenes of earlier English films like A Taste of Honey and Room at the Top. The struggle of a woman deciding whether to take the plunge and become a prostitute; the scene where the heroine confronts her distant dad at her sister's wedding; the scenes that reflect the loneliness and isolation the heroine feels may not seem appropriate in a pull-out-all-the-stops laugh fest, but they help to deepen the themes of the film, and give it both depth and breath. One of the more melancholy themes that stays dominant in the film is the deep emotional price one must pay for being a non-conformist.

The vivid imagery Jones brought to the Monty Python films serves an equally symbolic purpose here. The image of a prostitute with angel's wings flapping pitifully about a moonlit garden as she tries to escape the policeman who tackles her is an image which welds perfectly the film's sacred and profane themes and is unforgettable. And there are so many daring, in your face scenes ––the discipline scenes in the brothel; the exposure of Dotty in the john; the marvelous gift the madame gives both her father and son–– and they keep the film more surprising and fresh than most sex comedies of the 90's.

Julie Waters gives one of her wittiest, shaded, and full performances but she is only one–– the many character actors in the film are perfect in tone and work together in extraordinary ways. The film serves as a reality check about one's own up-tight attitudes about sex. (Your own squirming should be a revelation! ) American viewers need to be very much on their toes, however, because some of the funniest dialogue is rapid (with authentic accents) and often thrown away. Also helpful is to realize the slang expression `willie' does NOT refer to a dolphin, but to a guy's you know what.

I am always running into people who discovered this film on their own, and hold it high on their list of the greatest comedies. I urge you to discover it for yourself!


16 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Popazokaloo JonnyTanna
what ever happened to julie walters son breakingaway28
Discuss Personal Services (1987) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?