"In the 1970s . . .
- one girl broke all the rules."
Ah, Mary Millington - the star of so many saucy 70s British fun thrillers and comedies and magazine pictorials savoured in the heart of old Soho . . so sad, but also so exciting, a story. This girl kind of was the 1970s. She used to live, and died very young, in Walton on the Hill - my favourite village anywhere, ever! Here the ducks on the pond are friendly, the beer always cloudy and warm, the net curtains always twitching in eternal interest and the woodland walks (and random daytime encounters with jodhpur-wearing strangers, should you be so lucky) can last well beyond teatime at the Chocolate Café or the Post Office village store (both now also, like Mary, no longer with us).
From writer and filmmaker Simon Sheridan comes a new documentary about Mary's short but turbulent life: RESPECTABLE: THE MARY MILLINGTON STORY. The theatrical premier in London is on Thursday 7th April, and is preceded by the unveiling of a 'blue plaque' at the site of the old Moulin Cinema in Great Windmill Street, Soho. It's to celebrate both the life of the suburban superstar and the record-breaking theatrical run of her most famous film at the Moulin - COME PLAY WITH ME (1977).
There's a DVD release of the documentary next month. The premiere is going to be a hugely poignant and deeply permissive (far more so than was allowed back in Mary's day) big screen experience in equal measure. With affectionate editorials across the British press in the days before the premiere - this is truly a life that has become, almost, respectable.
To celebrate the documentary's release, Seat at the Back announces our very own Mary Millington season as a tribute. But first, the main event. The day has arrived . .
. . and Mary's morning has broken. It's a cold (as an Eskimo Nell's button nose), blustery, but brightening (as a Miss Bohrloch's washing up liquid) day in bustly Soho at the Bar Grace (formerly the Moulin Cinema) on Thursday 7th April. Phone-to-phone salesmen drop off private calling cards offering personal services to 'keep it up downstairs' and, in case the excitement of a Mary Millington tribute proves too much, there's a superdoc on hand to administer resuscitation.
I'm not feeling myself today (heart palpitations - of excitement perhaps?) but legendary 70s (and beyond!) film producer, media colossus, director of HELLCATS: MUD WRESTLING (1983) and Vice-Chairman of West Ham United - David Sullivan, is going to arrive shortly (as sex can also be David's main business, this is the man who also owned many famous top shelf magazines featuring his then partner Mary Millington back in her heyday - including the infamous PLAYBIRDS, after which an entire saucy Mary movie was once named).
Our man Sullivan is lined up to unveil the plaque and his arrival is awaited with feelings of private pleasure among many - and disbelief, I'm sure, among some (including a good few readers of the Daily Mail, who on the day in question, have been on the tweeting warpath about the blue plaque for Mary - who would have thought such a mark of respect would ever be bestowed upon an X-rated film star and to celebrate her most famous film and the people, many still living, that she counted as her friends!).
There will be some sadness in the air when the plaque is unveiled . . Mary died alleging persecution and harassment from the police and from within high circles having been rumoured to have been linked with (ironically perhaps) many establishment figures for a significant chunk of her life - including all the way to No.10 and to Harold Wilson (Mary even famously bared her chest on the doorstep of No.10 as a policeman posed alongside her - there were, of course, repercussions!).
After another arrest for shoplifting, addicted to drugs and in the swirls of depression, let alone swindled out of a life and persecuted by authorities determined to stamp out her campaigning for sexual liberation and personal freedom to choose what to watch, Mary faced a jail term. And in a letter to David Sullivan the night of her death (of an overdose) she told him:
The police have framed me yet again. They frighten me so much. I cant face the thought of prison . .
The crowds are soon to gather - even our Doreen is at the back. David Galaxy himself may line up here alongside us (some say his affair is causing ripples in higher parliamentary circles) and the afternoon of the plaque's unveiling and the film's screening at the Regent Street Cinema will be just a short stroll away - at 7pm.
GET READY TO COME AND PLAY - WITH US!