Last year, on this blog, I wrote about prolific British poster artist Tom Chantrell. Although he might be more revered nowadays for his work for Hammer studios, it’s his ‘X’-rated sexploitation material which I, unsurprisingly, adore the most. Chantrell designed the cinema artwork for Come Play with Me, The Playbirds and Confessions from the David Galaxy Affair and earlier this year I purchased some of his original materials from a dealer. Chantrell, who died in 2001, often worked from movie photographs supplied by the distributor. However, in the case of The Playbirds he was actually sent pictures by Mary herself. The photos below were used for reference by Chantrell and are stamped on the rear: ‘Boots the Chemist, Norbury’.

Mary Millington The Playbirds stills

From 1975 to 1978 Mary managed the Whitehouse Shop at 1539 London Road in Norbury, South London and was a regular face in the area. It’s likely that Mary’s photographs probably had to be developed ‘under the counter’ at her local Boots – which was located just down the road at number 1428 – but I’m pretty sure the staff there were obliging, and well-used to far more explicit requests from the adult film star in their midst. Chantrell often created his stunning designs in stages, and the ‘rough’ black and white poster mock-up below (with the distributor’s synopsis) certainly shows a work-in-progress.

Tom Chantrell The Playbirds

Although there were dozens of busy poster artists in the 1960s and 1970s, none could hold a candle to Chantrell. His artwork was always of the highest quality; even his signature had a flourish of impeccable class…

Tom Chantrell signature

All words and photographs strictly © Simon Sheridan 2015

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