6.3/10
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15 user 8 critic

Personal Services (1987)

R | | Comedy | 15 May 1987 (USA)
The story of the rise of a madame of a suburban brothel catering to older men, inspired by the real experiences of Cynthia Payne.

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Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 1 win. See more awards »
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Cast

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

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Another film from writer David Leland was also based on Cynthia Payne. That film, Wish You Were Here (1987) was based on Payne's childhood, this film was based on her life as an adult. 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.
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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 Madam Cyn's Home Movies (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Jingle Bells
(uncredited)
Written by James Pierpont
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Julie Walters not playing Cynthia Payne
12 October 2002 | by (Sydney, Australia) – See all my reviews

This film has a preface that it is fiction, and though the writer David Leland was inspired by a book by Cynthia Payne - the infamous British Madam

  • this is not the story of Cynthia Payne. The disclaimer is repeated at the


end, and then we see that the production consultant was Cynthia Payne. Perhaps there was a legal necessity for Madam Payne and the film-makers to provide this escape clause, since the film's madam, named Christine Painter, was charged with possessing obscene material for gain and running a brothel.

What makes this madam's brothel different is that Christine's clientele is gentlemen over 40 with a taste for kink, though the bondage and discipline we see is very mild. You would have to be extremely prudish to be offended by such behaviour. What makes these scenes so funny is how ordinary the customers are, which only reinforces the hypocrisy of the laws that consider prostitution a crime, and the insight the "tarts" have into men's sexuality. I loved the line "When the balls are full, the brain is empty", and the madam's argument that wives would never be wanting for anything as long as they kept their men "de-spunked".

As Christine, Julie Walters delivers a brilliant comic performance. She is a no-nonsense uppity woman, constantly in motion, who has never cared for sex but enters into the business for economic reasons. The ads posted in a shop window are deliberately double entendre-d eg large chest for sale, french polishing available. Walters looks surprising voluptuous here though as she becomes more successful she starts to resemble a drag queen. When she attends her sister's wedding, there is a confrontation scene with her father, and we see what a fool he is for not appreciating her.

Director Terry Jones came from the Monty Python group but it is to his credit that the humor is not juvenile or in poor taste. Walters does have an odd scene where she is suddenly in an exotic location and spying on a couple having sex, another where a revolving camera glorifies her romantic fantasies, and the circumstances of a missed "normal" date hint at that old chestnut that whores are doomed to die lonely. But overall the tone is light and positive. Special mention is made of Shirley Stelfox as the stern "Nanny", and Danny Schiller as the maid with an undetermined sex.


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