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  Come Play With Me Nudity Required
Year: 1977
Director: George Harrison Marks
Stars: Alfie Bass, George Harrison Marks, Irene Handl, Ronald Fraser, Tommy Godfrey, Sue Longhurst, Ken Parry, Cardew Robinson, Suzy Mandel, Mary Millington, Rita Webb, Bob Todd, Henry McGee, Talfryn Thomas, Milton Reid, Anna Bergman, Valentine Dyall
Genre: Comedy, Sex, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  2 (from 2 votes)
Review: The Deputy Prime Minister (Henry McGee) has called a meeting about a pressing problem - the country is on the verge of being swamped with forged banknotes and something must be done. Examining the pattern of forgery crime on the map, he thinks that the situation is moving from North to South, and will soon be past London. Meanwhile, the forgers, Kelly (Alfie Bass) and Clapworthy (George Harrison Marks) have dared to escape from the grip of the gangsters employing them with the plates they use to craft the fake money with, and end up hiding out in Scotland, specifically the Bovington Manor owned by Lady Bovington (Irene Handl) which she is hoping to turn into a health farm. But they're about to get visitors in the shape of some out of work strippers, who will spice up life at the manor house...

Surely the most successful of the British sex comedies of the seventies, Come Play With Me was scripted by the director and co-star Marks, presumably stamping his personality all over the film. Probably the last of such hits (can you call it the end of an era?), in amongst the getting-on-a-bit professional cast members there was one star who would become the movie's chief selling point: Mary Millington. Which would be a cheat to her fans, as she's barely in the film, and only has one set piece where she administers a massage to one of the clients. As Mary committed suicide a couple of years after making the film, you would have thought this would render the production hard to enjoy, but no matter as even if she were still alive today, it would be difficult to fathom much entertainment value.

Seedy and desperate are the best words to describe the film. However, the publicity surrounding it would have had the prospective punters believe that it was the next Deep Throat, when in reality it was strictly softcore, not much different from a monumentally overstretched Benny Hill sketch with added nudity. This didn't stop the film running for four whole years in London cinemas, but watching it now you wonder how hard up for titillation the British public were at the time (or the men of the British public, at any rate). Also pretty hard up are the cast, featuring such past their prime comic actors as Bass (dressed up to look like Oliver Hardy, for some reason) and Handl (seeming as though she couldn't care less about the script) all awkwardly reciting their lines and obviously forgetting them, too.

With the nudity crowbarred in, the intervening plot makes the hour and a half running time feel more like half a day. Lady Bovington's nephew arrives with a busload of strippers, who obviously weren't hired for their thespian skills, and they have the bright idea of getting the health farm going. As all this is happening, the head gangster (Ronald Fraser) is sending out minions to search for Kelly and Clapworthy, but spends all his time at his strip club for the excuse, as if they needed it, of adding the spectacle of more strippers (one of whom covers herself with shaving foam - it takes all sorts). He's not the only one on the hunt for the forgers, as a supremely unfunny government minister calling himself "Q" (Ken Parry) is roaming around the south of England in the hope of finding them too.

The comedy is miserable all over, and the performing epitomises the term "half hearted". Blatantly low budget, it has you contemplating why they felt the need to add any story or jokes at all, when all the audiences would want to see would be the naked women. You can't imagine anyone laughing out loud at any of it, unless it was a nervous reaction to boredom. To brighten things up, terrible rock songs are played by a band who happened to be aboard the bus, and in a moment of stunning gall, Marks includes a jolly musical number presented by him and Bass accompanied by the young ladies, crooning, "It's Great to be Here!" which it quite plainly isn't. When things are getting slow, which is most of the time, Marks throws naked women into the scenes, but they're so flatly handled that no matter how many massages are included tedium can't help but set in early on. How did this run for four years? Presumably it was all that was on offer. Music by Peter Jeffries.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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