Mary Goes to Cannes (again)

In May 1978 Mary visited the world-famous Cannes Film Festival to promote her forthcoming movie The Playbirds. She was also there to have an initial meeting with legendary porn director Gerard Damiano, about his latest project, Love is Beautiful, due to be shot in London that autumn for British producer David Grant.

By this stage in her career Mary was somewhat reluctant to return to the world of hardcore pornography, but the prospect of being paired-up with actor Harry Reems, the charismatic male lead of 1973’s Deep Throat, and potentially breaking into the American market, persuaded her – momentarily – to change her mind. However, despite posing for some explicit photographs with Reems, and having a further meeting with Damiano when he visited London in September 1978, Love is Beautiful never saw the light of day. Mary had always had reservations about working for David Grant and she was actually rather relieved the project fell through.

MM on the beach at Cannes 1978

However, Mary’s Cannes visit of 1978 was also notable for another reason. It was at the festival where she was first introduced to actor Peter Sellers, there to promote his latest comedy, Revenge of the Pink Panther (released in July of that year). Mary – like so many starlets before her – posed topless on the beach at the resort, much to the delight of photographers. A brief snippet of grainy footage exists showing Mary emerging from the sea and posing atop a sun lounger. Her naked body caught the eye of Sellers, who invited her for dinner, and the pair enjoyed a brief sexual affair.

Mary returned to Cannes again in May 1979 to drum up interest in the soon-to-be released David Galaxy Affair (before it had adopted its cumbersome Confessions from prefix). I have a private letter Mary wrote to friends at the time, which recounts how much she had enjoyed visiting the French seaside. Tragically, it was to be final last visit.

But 36 years after Mary last graced Cannes, she returned there – in spirit, at least – last month. My movie biography of Mary’s life, entitled Respectable: The Mary Millington Story, was screened at the resort for a week and posters featuring her smiling face adorned the Promenade de la Croisette. Here’s a sneak peek at the European poster below:

Respectable Mary Millington French poster

I’m proud to announce that my film is being handled by Content Media Corp, one of the biggest theatrical, TV and digital distributors in the world, with offices based in London and Los Angeles. And next Monday – on what would’ve been Mary’s 70th birthday – we’ll be revealing the first ‘teaser’ trailer for the movie.

 All words strictly © Simon Sheridan 2015-2016

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