Playboy (circa 1960s) - was to have starred Tony Curtis as Hefner, with his full co-operation. Alas this film was never made as Hefner did not approve the script. But could any film fantasy have competed against Hugh Hefner’s 1960’s reality?
Americathon (1979) - This is an almost amusing comedy about a Telethon to raise cash for poverty-stricken America (as if!). Features tragic Dorothy Stratten in a patterned Bunny costume escorting Meat Loaf on to the studio floor. He plays a Dare Devil.
North Dallas Forty (1979) - Nick Nolte in an American Football picture (yawn, not another football picture). It's actually quite a good film and portrays the nastier side of professional sports. A pleasant change to see a film portraying jocks as the self-obsessed, amoral lunkheads that they often are instead of as 'heroes'. The film also shows the 'franchise' owners as money-grabbing back-stabbers with little interest in the sport or their employees. Features a blonde in a black Bunny costume at a party. It is actually a real Bunny costume. Perhaps the actress was a real Bunny from the Dallas Playboy Club, which was located in the Dallas Cowboys’ building.
Woman on the Run: The True Story of Lawrencia Bambenek (1993) - starring Tatum O’Neal. Actually features a scene shot in a good facsimile of the Lake Geneva Playboy Club-Hotel. Includes brief shots of table-hopping Bunnies plus Tatum O’Neal looking gorgeous in a black Bunny costume.
A Bunny’s Tale (1984) - Watchable ABC-produced TV movie version of Gloria Steinem’s magnificent (if supercilious) SHOW article. Saturated with the usual sentimental camaraderie and romantic sub-plot which blight most TV true story pics. The movie is unfortunately not faithful to the structure, wit and insight of Gloria’s legendary A Bunny's Tale / I was a Playboy Bunny article. A straight filming of the article would have made for a more entertaining and intelligent picture. It is a pity the tails are like white pancakes, oh well. A Bunny’s tail should be fluffy! Available on video and repeated intermittently on various TV networks worldwide.
Otley (1969) - Quirky British spy comedy starring Tom Courtenay. This has a good scene (but alas too brief, ah always too brief) in the London Playboy Club with two gorgeous, real-life VIP room Bunnies.
Oh Dad, Poor Dad (1967) - Jonathan Winters all too briefly surrounded by (Jamaica Club?) Bunnies in a fantasy sequence. Another blink and you’ll miss the Bunnies moment. At least this film isn’t ashamed to be quirky. Alas, it is gratingly so, unlike the marvellous...
Lord Love a Duck (1966) - 'Way-out' comedy with Roddy McDowall in brilliant form. The mother of Tuesday Weld’s character plays a Kitten Club waitress, her ex husband asks “How’s the Bunny business doing?” He gets the reply “I am not a Bunny, I am a cocktail waitress.” Damn straight you ain’t a Bunny! Brilliant film, worth watching for the sheer insanity and offbeat script. Roddy McDowall calls Tuesday Weld, “you poor, poor Bunny” at the end. No Bunnies though, alas. But this loon-fest flick does feature the Playmate of the Year for 1965, Jo Collins. Bunny Trivia: Jo was a Bunny Mother at the Denver Playboy Club. That’s enough trivia, thank you.
The Ladies Man (2000) - The eponymous lead is discovered by Bunnies as an abandoned baby on the steps of the Chicago Playboy Mansion. The Bunnies take him inside to Hugh Hefner who is surrounded by more doting Bunnies. Decent replicas of the Bunny costume.
Carry On At Your Convenience (1971) - Dire Carry-On film. A nasty-minded anti-union calamity of a film set in a lavatory factory, The film (and the scriptwriters) belong in a toilet. This film has one scene set in a cheap restaurant where the waitress wears an ersatz Bunny costume. If you know the Carry-On series you can imagine the humour that the Bunny costume provokes. If you don’t know the Carry-On series you are a lucky soul.
A Tale of Two Bunnies (2000) - ABC’s quirky comedy. Starring Julie Condra and Mariana Black looking beautiful in and out of the world-famous Bunny costume. Anachronistic but enjoyable. This was probably made with Playboy’s co-operation since the costumes are close copies of the ones currently being used by Playboy for their Bunny promotions. The film is currently available for rental on VHS under the title ‘The Price of Beauty.’
Sammy Somebody (circa early 70s) - Obscure TV movie. Has scene(s) in the Miami Playboy Plaza Hotel, including Playmate Bunny Carol Vitale. This film is as scarce as an honest politician (to date I have seen evidence of neither).
City Hunter (1992) - Comedy kung-fu caper starring the wonderful Jackie Chan. The casino onboard the luxury cruise ship features ersatz Bunny waitresses. Bunny Trivia: Real-life casino croupier Bunnies were employed on the Caribbean cruise ship Atlantis in the early Seventies.
The Feminist and the Fuzz (1971) - An early role for Farrah Fawcett co-starring as a Playboy Bunny, girlfriend of the main character. She loses him to the female lead, the ‘Feminist’ of the title. As if Bunny and Feminist were opposites! Thank God ‘The Bunny Years’ set that argument to rest. Another hard to find film.
Mooch Goes to Hollywood (1971) - Shaggy dog story about a shaggy dog. Mooch is a little Benji-type dog who dreams of being a starlet. Zsa Zsa Gabor provides the voiceover and Svengali-style encouragement to the pup. One moment of madness in this endearingly insane movie has Mooch appearing in a dream sequence wearing pink Bunny ears and a fluffy tail. Who wrote this movie? Boy, those drugs were strong in the Seventies! Features another blink and you’ll miss it moment of Bunny watching: Playmate-Bunny Gwen Wong at the door of the original Hollywood Playboy Club on Sunset Boulevard. Mooch tries to become a Bunny but the Club doorman throws her out as Gwen looks on. Alas the camera does not go inside the Club.
WUSA (1970) - Starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Features the best scene shot in a Playboy Club. Filmed in the New Orleans Playboy Club, this features lots of beautiful passing Bunnies, including Gwen Wong (you can never get too much of a good Bunny!). The scene also features a wonderful piece of over-acting by Anthony Perkins (a master of manic mannerisms).
Purab aur Pachim (East and West) (1970) - Indian comedy featuring a scene shot in the London Playboy Club.
The Games (1970) - Drama following four marathon runners training for the Olympic Games, starring Michael Crawford and Ryan O'Neal. Features a very brief scene shot in the London Playboy Club. Awful film from the awful director, Michael Winner.
Star 80 (1983) - Mariel Hemingway starring as the tragic 1980 Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratten in Bob Fosse’s sensitive, stylish film. It depicts the terrible series of events in Dorothy’s brief life. This movie has a scene of Dorothy serving keyholder yahoos in the LA (Century City) Club. The TV movie based on Dorothy’s story, ‘Death of a Centerfold,’ starring Jamie Lee Curtis, does not feature any Bunny moments at all.
Old Dracula, aka Vampira (1974) - Horror spoof starring David Niven as the blood-sucking villain (Dracula I mean, not Hugh Hefner, kidding...). Very brief scene showing an office with Bunny photos on the wall, perhaps the Bunnies Mothers office at the London Playboy. Later in the movie, two Bunnies are seen greeting guests and serving drinks at a masked ball. Bring on the blood-sucking Bunnies?
Lover Come Back (1961) - Carry Grant entertains clients in a nightclub where the showgirls wear ersatz Bunny costumes.
Buford's Beach Bunnies (1992) - Pitiful sex-comedy with little sex and less comedy. Stars Jim Hanks (brother of Tom). He is even more wooden than his more famous sibling. The 'Beach Bunnies' are the waitresses in a burger joint who wear cheap rabbit ears and tails.
Animal House (1978) - Tiresome granddaddy of the 'Frat Brat' flick. This 'comedy' features ersatz Bunnies on a Playboy float during a parade, one of whom is propelled off the float and through a house window and onto the bed of a young boy reading Playboy magazine. He gratefully exclaims "Thank you God!" I'd give thanks to God if he'd rained down fire and brimstone on this turkey, stopping it's production and the slew of swill films made it's craven image.
Digby, the Biggest Dog in the World (1973) - Awful British children’s movie (is there any other kind?). Features a scene with an ersatz Bunny serving the ever-irritating Jim Dale in a cheap British motorway café. Avoid (both British motorway cafés and this film).
Hefner: Unauthorised (1999) - An amusing, if flippant, bio-pic of Hefner’s life. This film is as airbrushed as any centerfold. It features a scene depicting the creation of the Bunny costume. The scene is based upon Victor Lownes’ recollection of the Bunny’s Birth in his autobiography. This version was subsequently retold by Russell Miller in his book ‘Bunny: The Real Story of Playboy.’ Ilse Taurins, Victor’s then girlfriend, wore the first prototype costume (one her mother had made). This scene merges weeks of experimentation into one minute of movie scene. The cuffs and collar did not arrive until months AFTER the Chicago Club opened on Walton Street. Knowingly anachronistic throughout but a fine film for laid-back viewing (no pun intended). If you want a more factual history of Hefner and the Empire he built, buy a book. But then that can be said for many a subject. Find out more about the History of the Playboy Bunny.
Legally Blonde (2001) & Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001) - In each film, the lead character, played by Reese Witherspoon and Renee Zellweger respectively, arrives at a party (thinking it is to be in fancy dress) wearing a Bunny Girl costume.
The Hazing (2004) - Derivative but enjoyable Haunted House Horror. Female character appears for most of the film in a faux Bunny costume.
Mean Girls (2004) - One of the girls attends a Halloween party in an ersatz Bunny costume. Additionally Lindsay Lohan is rumoured to be in consideration for a part as a 'Playboy Bunny' in the upcoming Brett Ratner-directed Playboy biography. God Help us.
The Bunny Years (200?) - This should be excellent, if Disney and Touchstone actually get their tails moving. They bought the film rights from Kathryn Leigh Scott. It looks more likely as the years roll by that this will never be made. The film would highlight the experience of three Bunnies during and after their cottontail careers. We will all be hopping along to the cinema like happy Bunnies if this is released.
Finally look out for the official movie biography of Hugh Hefner to be directed by Brett Ratner. Maybe someone misheard, the film is about hedonism not nepotism. At one time the project was to be directed by Ron Howard (oh dear, who commissioned Ron Howard to direct the life of Hugh Marsden Hefner!?! Working title: "Hoppy Days"?)