Thursday, 12 January 2023

Come Play With Me (1977)

Come Play With Me is a 1977 British sex comedy which has two major claims to fame. Firstly, it features the legendary Mary Millington. Secondly, it had the longest cinematic run in British history. That claim has been disputed but what isn’t disputed is that it ran continuously for four years. It was quite possibly the most successful of all the 70s British sex comedies.

The British Government is facing a crisis. The country is being flooded with counterfeit banknotes. The Minister tells the hapless Podsnap that he had better find this counterfeiting gang if he wants to keep his job.

Two members of the gang, Cornelius Clapworthy (George Harrison Marks) and Morrie Kelly (Alfie Bass), have scarpered with the printing press and the plates and they need to hide out from the other members of the gang. Clapworthy has found the perfect to take refuge - Bovington Hall.

Lady Bovington (Irene Handl) has turned the ancestral family home into a health farm but so far they haven’t attracted any paying customers. Her nephew Rodney (Jerry Lordan) comes up with a brilliant plan to make the health farm a surefire money-making concern. He’s just arrived back from France and he just happens to have about ten gorgeous girls with him. They’re very friendly girls and very uninhibited. Now what’s the problem with most health farms? Obviously, the fact that they’re no fun at all. How could a health farm be made fun? That’s easy. Have all the health treatments delivered by gorgeous naked or near-naked girls. His young lady friends are happy to oblige.

As you might expect the health farm is soon a roaring success.

While the health farm provides plenty of opportunities to show young ladies without their clothes on you can’t have too much nudity in a movie such as this. So the leader of the counterfeiting gang, Slasher (Ronald Fraser), just happens to have made a Soho strip club his headquarters.

Slasher is determined to track down Clapworthy and Kelly and as the trap closes on them they call on the girls for help. The girls want to help because Clapworthy has convinced them he’s an MI5 man on a dangerous undercover mission.

That’s about it for the plot, and it’s certainly thin. But this is after all a comedy and that thin plot provides the material for plenty of gags.

The British sex comedies of the 70s really were sex comedies - the comedy was as important as the nude girls. The comedy here is gently amusing but it’s also very good-natured. While there are undoubtedly people today who will manage to find lots of things in it to be offended by it’s a movie that really doesn’t have the slightest desire to be offensive or nasty or cruel. It’s a feelgood movie. If laughs and nude girls don’t make you feel good then this is not the movie for you.

There are lots of wonderful British comic actors in supporting roles and they’re in fine form. The girls handle the comedy pretty adroitly as well. Mary Millington would never have claimed to be a serious actress but she knew how to be sexy and amusing at the same time.

This movie was at the time and still is marketed as a Mary Millington movie. She originally had a fairly minor role but it was soon realised that she was going to be the movie’s main selling point so extra scenes were shot to give her lots more screen time. I’m not complaining.

Some sources claim that some scenes were in fact shot hardcore but that those scenes are now lost.

The Screenbound DVD offers a very good transfer and a couple of very worthwhile extras. The first is Sex Is My Business, an 8mm short in which Mary and her friends visit a sex shop. And what do you do when you visit a sex shop? You have sex of course. That’s why they call them sex shops. It’s an amusing little fantasy piece. The salesgirls all wear their salesgirl uniforms, which comprise an incredibly brief almost totally transparent nightie and absolutely nothing else. There’s no plot, just nudity and sex. It’s mostly fun as a snapshot of sex in the 70s.

The second notable extra is a documentary, Mary Millington’s True Blue Confessions, which gives an overview of her life and career up to the time that the police finally hounded her to her death.

This movie is also available on Blu-Ray in the Mary Millington Movie Collection.

Come Play With Me is light and frothy and cheerful, everybody seems to be having fun, there’s an abundance of bare female flesh and there’s slightly naughty but really very innocent comedy. Come Play With Me is as playful as its title suggests. Recommended, and if you share my weird taste for 1970s British sex comedies then it’s highly recommended.

I’ve also reviewed Millington’s other well-known film, The Playbirds (1978), which I also recommend.

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