4.8/10
141
7 user 6 critic

The Playbirds (1978)

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

Director:

Willy Roe

Writers:

George Evans (screenplay) (as Bud Tobin), Willy Roe (screenplay) (as Robin O'Connor)
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Cast

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

1978 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

The Playbird Murders See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Roldvale See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During one of the scenes at the races, a PA announcement asks "David Sullivan, the trainer, to come to the weighing room immediately". David Sullivan was the movie's executive producer. See more »

Goofs

During the meeting at Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park, a lot of the passers by are looking straight into the camera. Some of them actively try to get on camera, while others are startled and turn away. See more »

Connections

Featured in Respectable - The Mary Millington Story (2016) 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

KIND OF interesting in spite of itself (a non-British perspective)
9 September 2008 | by lazarilloSee 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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