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Pretty Maids all in a Row

Pretty Maids all in a Row – 1971
Roger Vadim

Francis Pollini (novel)
Gene Roddenberry

Rock Hudson
Angie Dickinson
Telly Savalas

Review by Wayne Malin

Starts off OK but quickly gets tiresome,

Black comedy (I think) of a high school where girls are being murdered. While this is happening football coach Michael ‘Tiger’ McDrew (Rock Hudson) is giving lessons to student Ponce (John David Carson) on how to pick up girls(!!!). Throw in Roddy McDowall as the dean, Angie Dickinson as a teacher, Telly Savalas as a police detective, James Doohan as his helper and Keenan Wynn as a bumbling police officer and you got one strange movie.

I can’t quite figure out what they were aiming for her. Some of it is funny and I thought it was a comedy, but it was often pretty sick (the dead girls) and ended up showing as much female nudity as an R rating would allow. Director Roger Vadim seems more interested in female bodies and nudity than a coherent story and characters. At first the weirdness kept me watching–the characters act strange and things are shown at different angles. But that wore quick pretty fast and I started to get bored. By the end I was actually getting annoyed with the constant female nudity and all women being portrayed as young and beautiful with great bodies and not a brain in their heads. Guys don’t come off much better–Hudson is sleeping around with all the teenage girls (kind of amusing now that we know he was gay) and Carson is constantly horny.

Acting varies. Carson is just terrible and that’s a problem cause he’s the lead! His one-note performance drags the movie down. Dickinson is as good as she can be (not very) and Hudson tries but seems uncomfortable. McDowell, Savalas and Wynn however were good. And it was fun to hear James Doohan speaking in his regular voice and not the Scottish one he uses in “Star Trek”.

All in all a virtually forgotten movie–for good reason. This is more a skin flick than anything else. Also mixing dead teenage girls and sex as if it’s funny is in very questionable taste. I give it a 4.

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