The Playbirds (1978)

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The Playbirds (1978) Poster

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


4.7/10
166

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  • John M. East and Mary Millington in The Playbirds (1978)
  • Mary Millington in The Playbirds (1978)
  • Glynn Edwards in The Playbirds (1978)
  • The Playbirds (1978)
  • The Playbirds (1978)
  • The Playbirds (1978)

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16 October 2005 | Pedro_H
3
| The sad, the bad and the mad - all together in one place!
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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