Featuring a gumbo pot of talent and a salacious storyline, Pretty Maids All In A Row has garnered a cult following since its 1971. Rock Hudson is Tiger, a high school football coach and guidance counselor who seduces the most alluring teenagers at his school and kills them once they get a bit too serious for his own good. Angie Dickinson is Miss Smith, a sexually frustrated teacher who’s caught under Tiger’s spell, and John David Carson is Ponce de Leon Harper, a high school senior who’s desperate to lose his virginity. Below are five reasons why Pretty Maids All In A Row is worth a look.
- Rock Hudson and Angie Dickinson push the envelope
With Giant, All That Heaven Allows, and films with Doris Day (Pillow Talk, Lover Come Back) under his belt, Rock Hudson’s A-list, leading man status was undeniable. My favorite performance of Hudson’s, however, came with the 1966 thriller Seconds, where he played a man whose newfound paradise is actually a prison of his own doing. It was a risk taking outing from Hudson that paid off, and he took a similar gamble playing the sex crazed Tiger in Pretty Maids All In A Row. While Tiger doesn’t have the emotional depth or inner struggles of some of Hudson’s greatest roles, it proves that Hudson knows how to play an amoral cad!
Though her career hadn’t reached the stratospheric heights of Hudson, Angie Dickinson still had Ocean’s Eleven and a memorable turn in Point Blank in her resume. As substitute teacher Miss Smith, Dickinson played a woman who, even though she had her share of stumbles along the way with Tiger and Ponce de Leon Harper, owned her sexuality with gusto. It’s an unabashedly confident performance from Dickinson, and though everyone is engaged behind the comedic frivolities of the film, she’s the one who’s having the most fun.
- Star Trek’s Gene Roddenberry Pens The Screenplay! If you thought Captain James Tiberius Kirk was a womanizer, then you haven’t met guidance counselor/football coach Tiger (Rock Hudson)! Along with seducing fellow teacher Miss Smith (Angie Dickinson), he also beds down some of the high school’s most nubile teenagers.The movie is based on the novel by Francis Pollini, and Roddenberry penned a script that attempted to mix black comedy, sex, suspense, and a bit of drama into the proceedings. Most people would have predicted that the Star Trek creator would create more science fiction or even epic narratives after Trek’s cancellation, and the biggest surprise was Pretty Maids All In A Row was Roddenberry’s sole feature film screenplay!
- The Osmonds Sing Film’s Opening Song
One of music’s most wholesome pop groups are featured in a lust and murder filled black comedy! Mission Impossible composer Lalo Schifrin collaborated with The Osmonds for “Chilly Winds,” a song that starts off Pretty Maids In A Row!The movie’s sense of humor begins right from the get-go, as high school senior Ponce de Leon Harper (John David Carson) is laser focused on every attractive girl he sees while riding his scooter to school. Although the song’s chorus is “Chilly Winds may blow,” we’re assuming Ponce is in a much more heated state!
- Film’s T&A Is Misdirection For A Bigger Picture
The movie was directed by Roger Vadim, the filmmaker behind And God Created Woman and Barbarella (he was also married to Brigitte Bardot and Jane Fonda). Vadim’s most noticeable filmmaking aesthetic was his love for the female form, and Pretty Maids All In A Row features its share of nudity and lissome young women. If 92-minutes worth of eye candy is what you’re looking for, then Pretty Maids All In A Row is what the doctor ordered.
Beautiful people isn’t the film’s sole selling point – amidst all this Southern California superficiality lies a subtle yet darker message. With all these murders, the main worry at Oceanfront High School is whether the football team is going to win its next game! The film’s protagonists are actually more concerned with satiating their own desires than stopping the serial killer! With television’s often sensationalistic and exploitive look into murder, as well as our respective fascination with these shows, the subtle theme behind the film continues to resonate. Credit goes to Pretty Maids All In A Row for showing us a shape of things to come.
- Stellar Ensemble Cast – Including Kojak!!
Along with serving as an inspiration for razor edged teen comedies like Heathers and Election, Pretty Maids All In A Row served as a practice ground for Telly Savalas, who plays Sucher, the homicide investigator who’s bent on catching the killer. This cop role would serve Savalas well two years later with the 1973 debut of TV’s Kojak.
Star Trek fans will also get a treat as James Doohan (“Scotty”) has a bit role as Sucher’s homicide partner.Though Roddy McDowall is criminally underused as the clueless school principal, Keenan Wynn (Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb) does fine work as Poldaski, a clueless police chief who is horrible at handling a crime scene and directing traffic.
Pretty Maids All In A Row is a manufactured on demand title (MOD) that is currently available to order on WBshop.com or on Amazon.
To listen to my review of Pretty Maids All In A Row, check out episode four of CinemAddicts below (the review starts at 63:00). Our review of The Finest Hours and the Oscar Shorts are also featured on the episode:
Lastly, if you want to be part of our CinemAddicts giveaways, all you need to do is to rate and review our show, which is available on iTunes. Winners will be drawn each week randomly and announced on the show!! Here’s the iTunes link for CinemAddicts: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cinemaddicts/id1071941437?mt=2
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