Mary Millington appeared in 14 theatrically-released films (three posthumously). All her movies are listed here in order of their London West End release.
ESKIMO NELL (1974)
Directed by Martin Campbell / Released January 1975
Although Mary had been shooting 8mm hardcore porn films since 1970 – the first being Miss Bohrloch, directed by John Lindsay – her first legitimate role in a mainstream comedy was for 1973’s Secrets of a Door-to-Door Salesman. Her scenes were cut from the finished movie, so it was to be Eskimo Nell (shot in February/March 1974) where she finally made her début on the big screen. Produced by Stanley Long, and boasting a clever script from Michael Armstrong, Eskimo Nell features a tiny uncredited cameo by Mary, playing a stripping traffic warden. Despite the brevity of her part, Mary was used extensively at the time to market the movie.
EROTIC INFERNO (1975)
Directed by Trevor Wrenn / Released May 1975
Appearing under her married name, ‘Mary Maxted’, and in a considerably bigger role than her previous film, Mary stars as a randy lesbian stable girl named Jane in a dark tale of rural lust and jealousy. Erotic Inferno/span> gave Mary the only truly ‘serious’ role of her career and the film (released in a double-bill with French import Hot Acts of Love) enjoyed a record-breaking run at Soho’s Astral Cinema running on-and-off until 1979. It was one of the sex movies ‘moral reformer’ Lord Longford voluntarily viewed during his in-depth ‘investigation’ into British pornography. The film ran into trouble at London’s High Court, but it played successfully in Australia under the name Adam & Nicole.
I’M NOT FEELING MYSELF TONIGHT! (1975)
Directed by Joe McGrath / Released February 1976
Back to being uncredited again, Mary appears in the opening sequence of this successful 1975 British sex comedy. She plays a nymphomaniac (wearing an Emmanuelle t-shirt) lured into a road digger’s tent for a bit of slap and tickle! The movie’s tongue-in-cheek script was written by David McGillivray and features several other uncredited sex film performers including Pat Astley, Heather Deeley and Monika Ringwald. The film opened in London as one half of a double-bill with 1972 German movie Housewives on the Job (aka Hausfrauen Report International) and ran for 15 weeks at Soho’s Moulin Cinema.
INTIMATE GAMES (1976)
Directed by Tudor Gates / Released June 1976
Mary (uncredited once again) plays a virginal church singer who enjoys an innocent grope from a naughty choirboy, in a silly storyline concerning university students’ sexual fantasies. Tudor Gates’ fine-looking comedy co-stars several other 1970s’ sex goddesses including Suzy Mandel, Anna Bergman, Felicity Devonshire and Heather Deeley yet, ironically, it is the only time Mary featured in a fully-clothed role. Intimate Games knocked I’m Not Feeling Myself Tonight! off the screen at the Moulin Cinema in Great Windmill Street, playing there for nine weeks. Distributed by Tigon, the film was later reissued in 1979 with The Playbirds in a ‘Tantalising Mary Millington Double-bill’.
KEEP IT UP DOWNSTAIRS (1976)
Directed by Robert Young / Released July 1976
As Polly the saucy scullery maid, Mary is the focus of most of the sexual interest in this naughty Upstairs, Downstairs spoof, set in 1904. Sumptuously-staged by 1970s’ sex comedy standards, and filmed on location at Knebworth House in Hertfordshire, this is the movie where Mary first met Diana Dors, later to become hugely influential in her life. Expertly directed by veteran Robert Young, Keep It Up Downstairs opened at the ABC Cinema, Edgware Road on 29 July 1976, but was not a huge commercial or critical success. It was shot with additional hardcore porn scenes for the European market.
PRIVATE PLEASURES (1975)
Directed by Paul Gerber / Released November 1976
A beautifully-made, feature-length hardcore movie filmed in Sweden under the original title I Nöd Och Lust, documenting a woman’s sexual awakening. Mary filmed her scenes in the summer of 1975 at Stockholm’s ‘Chat Noir’ club, where she had worked for a time as an escort. Sadly, for the British release, much of Mary’s bisexual threesome scene, featured toward the end of the film, was removed. Despite this, the heavily-cut British version opened at Paul Raymond’s Soho Cinema in Brewer Street where it played solidly for three months, breaking the house record.
COME PLAY WITH ME (1977)
Directed by George Harrison Marks / Released April 1977
The film that finally made Mary Millington a star, and still the longest-running movie in British cinema history, Come Play with Me played in the West End for nearly four years from April 1977 to March 1981. Shot partly on location at the Weston Manor Hotel in Oxfordshire, this star-studded saucy comedy, set in a health farm, broke cinema box office records throughout the UK and went on to become one of the most profitable movies of the decade. At London’s Moulin Cinema alone, it took £540,000. The painting of Mary (by artist Tom Chantrell) dressed as a naughty nurse on the film’s theatrical poster became one of the defining images of 1970s’ cinema in the UK. It spawned two ‘in-name-only’ sequels in 1980 and 1982.
THE PLAYBIRDS (1978)
Directed by Willy Roe / Released July 1978
Named after Mary’s most famous porn magazine, The Playbirds (‘a murder thriller with thrilling bodies’) ironically cast Mary as a policewoman, WPC Lucy Sheridan, on the trail of a seedy pornographer played by Diana Dors’ husband Alan Lake. Mary’s loathing of the Metropolitan Police was well documented. “I hate policemen,” she said in 1977. “Their truncheons are always bigger than their cocks.” Despite the film’s inexcusably downbeat ending, it was a huge success at the British box office, playing for 50 weeks solidly at the Eros Cinema on Piccadilly Circus. A masterpiece of British sexploitation cinema, The Playbirds is unquestionably Mary’s best film. Like Come Play with Me, it continued to be reissued theatrically for the best part of a decade.
WHAT’S UP SUPERDOC! (1978)
Directed by Derek Ford / Released September 1978
A silly throwaway role for Mary as a blonde temptress with a bottle of champagne. With a dishearteningly dubbed voice, Mary’s scene lasts for barely 18 seconds, which is a pity because What’s Up Superdoc! is actually a well-made British sex comedy, despite its preponderance of masturbation and sperm jokes. Directed by the notorious Derek Ford (1932-1995), the movie was a sequel to 1977’s What’s Up Nurse!, which featured a completely different cast. The film’s best sequence – a lesbian scene shot at Raymond’s Revuebar in Soho – remains one of the few genuinely erotically-charged moments in British ‘X’-rated cinema.
CONFESSIONS FROM THE DAVID GALAXY AFFAIR (1979)
Directed by Willy Roe / Released June 1979
Mary is reunited with actor Alan Lake in this turgid tale of sex and astrology. She stars as the unfortunately-named Millicent Cumming, a society debutante who, despite hundreds of lovers, has never achieved orgasm during sex; that is until she meets the titular Mr Galaxy. Originally intended to co-star Sylvia Kristel (who rejected a role), David Galaxy ended up featuring Mary’s brunette ‘rival’ Rosemary England in her début film. The movie was relatively unsuccessful at the British box office and was re-issued as the snappier-sounding Star Sex in October 1980. The Monthly Film Bulletin famously dubbed it ‘squalidly unwatchable’.
QUEEN OF THE BLUES (1979)
Directed by Willy Roe / Released July 1979
Rush-released after the disappointing performance of Confessions from the David Galaxy Affair, the 62-minute Queen of the Blues features Mary as an energetic night-club stripper. The film was shot on location at the real-life Burlesque Club in Mayfair. The movie proved to be one of the biggest hits of Mary’s movie career – playing as one half of a double-bill with the imported Massage Girls of Bangkok. During its opening week at the Centa Cinema, off Piccadilly Circus, it took more money than any other film in London up to that point in 1979. The movie was still on general release when Mary tragically died in August of that year, which, ironically, boosted the film’s takings.
THE GREAT ROCK ‘n’ ROLL SWINDLE (1979)
Directed by Julien Temple / Released May 1980
Mary’s scenes for this ground-breaking punk pseudo-documentary were shot in 1978, but sadly she did not live to see the film’s huge critical success. The movie charts the rise and fall of notorious rock group The Sex Pistols, and their manager Malcolm McLaren. Mary stars as herself in an amusing sequence set in the Moulin Cinema (where Come Play with Me enjoyed its record-breaking run) alongside the Pistols’ lead guitarist Steve Jones, and the incomparable Irene Handl, playing an usherette. “Oi, Sex Pistol,” she screeches at Jones and Millington having sex. “Pack it in will you. You’re annoying our clientele!” The movie premièred at the Berlin International Film Festival and broke box office records in London when released in May 1980.
MARY MILLINGTON’S TRUE BLUE CONFESSIONS (1980)
Directed by Nick Galtress / Released October 1980
A tribute movie, of dubious taste, to Britain’s foremost sex symbol. This fascinating mixture of archive clips, interviews, out-takes and ‘imagined’ re-creations of Mary’s life attempts to tell her astonishing story. Loved and loathed in equal quantities by fans, the documentary features previously unseen private photographs, as well as scenes from Mary’s 8mm film Special Assignment, shot in Holland in 1971. True Blue Confessions was a colossal hit, setting a new house record at London’s newly-refurbished Cinecenta Cinema and played for 27 continuous weeks until April 1981. It remains producer David Sullivan’s favourite of all his movies.
MARY MILLINGTON’S WORLD STRIPTEASE EXTRAVAGANZA (1981)
Directed by Roy Deverell / Released March 1982
Mary’s final (posthumous) movie is cheap and nasty piece of sexploitation, conceived and produced by her former acting coach, John M. East. Excerpts of Mary dancing from Queen of the Blues are cobbled together with footage of an ‘international’ striptease competition held at the Burlesque club in Mayfair. The film features tragic glamour model Julie Lee (1955-1983) in her last film role, and is compèred by comedian Bernie Winters, who later regretted his involvement in the project. Released as the main attraction in a triple-bill, World Striptease Extravaganza was nonetheless a modest box office hit, playing for 11 weeks at the Moulin Cinema in Soho.
All Film reviews by Simon Sheridan © 2012-2015. Contact Simon Sheridan