Does it make you horny baby? No? Me neither. Executively produced by David Sullivan, London’s premier men’s magazine publisher, Emmanuelle in Soho (1981) was one of the last British sex films to be made and released at the end of a successful five years for British sexploitation films. Originally intended as a vehicle for Sullivan’s girlfriend and muse Mary Millington, the film went into pre-production in 1978 after the success of an earlier collaborations of theirs Come Play With Me (1977). Sadly, Millington killed herself in 1979 and what was meant to be her first shot at some serious acting never came to fruition.
Instead the lead role went to model Julie Lee, who had some pretty looks but no real talent or ability to act. In the nicest way possible, watching her feels incredibly awkward, something you don’t really want to feel when you’re trying to watch a sex film. She’s as wooden as an impotent’s erection and this was unsurprisingly her only film role. Instead Lee’s role was swapped somewhat with that of another character and new star Mandy Miller, nicknamed ‘Randy Mandy’ was bought in. Billed on posters as’The NEW Mary Millington’, Miller just doesn’t have the charm that Millington had, even though her acting fares slightly better. Slightly.
The film saw Lee playing wife Kate to Kevin Fraser’s Paul. Paul is a struggling photographer on the sleazy London sex scene and can’t stop taking pictures of his lodger Emmanuelle, played by Miller (there, folks, is your link to the Emmanuelle/Emanuelle franchises and a poor link at that, only needing the name to generate money). Paul’s photographs are bought cheaply with the view to be sold on again for greater profit and soon he finds himself involved in a blackmailing scheme. And an orgy.
As with all of Sullivan’s films, publicity had Emmanuelle in Soho being advertised as ‘the hardest film ever released in Britain’. It wasn’t and further hardcore scenes were shot for overseas sales. The movie was still successful, opening at the Eros Cinema in Piccadilly Circus (the porno theatre featured in John Landis’ 1981 horror feature An American Werewolf in London) and running for a substantial number of weeks before transferring to the Moulin in Great Windmill Street. Sadly for Lee, she never got the acting career she desired and passed away after a horrific car accident two years later in 1983.