10,000 Bullets   Exploring the world of Cinema from the Arthouse to the Grindhouse™

Pretty Maids All In A Row (Warner Archive) 
Written by: on November 2nd, 2010

Theatrical Release Date:
USA, 1971
Director: Roger Vadim
Writers: Gene Roddenberry (Screenplay), Francis Pollini (novel)
Cast: Rock Hudson, Angie Dickinson, Telly Savalas, John David Carson, Roddy McDowall, Keenan Wynn, James Doohan, William Campbell, Susan Tolsky, Barbara Leigh

DVD released: October 12th, 2010
Approximate running time: 92 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
Subtitles: N/A
DVD Release: Warner Archive
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95

Synopsis: Ponce is a shy high school student who’s a completely invisible to the girls. He gets encouragement from Tiger, the guidance counselor and football coach, who sets him up with a sexy substitute teacher. Meanwhile, dead girls are showing up all over the school.

If you haven’t seen this in widescreen, then you haven’t seen it. I watched it repeatedly on VHS, and could not understand how all this talent could result in such a disappointing end product. Directed by Roger Vadim (Barbarella), written and produced by Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek), and sporting an incredible cast. The first string consists of Rock Hudson (Seconds) as Tiger, Angie Dickinson as the sexy substitute, and Telly Savalas in a proto-Kojack role as the detective investigating the murders. His sidekicks are James Doohan (‘Scotty’) and William Campbell (‘Squire Trelane’), both from ‘Star Trek’; and for comic relief there’s the always entertaining Keenan Wynn and Susan Tolsky (‘Biddie’ in ‘ Here Come The Brides’). Then there’s the knockout Barbara Leigh (Terminal Island), mostly wasted as eye candy, and Roddy McDowall as the principle, mostly wasted as a stuffed shirt.

But my first exposure to the film was with the April 1971 issue of Playboy magazine which featured a pictorial on the girls from the film. Rock Hudson’s coach Tiger is sleeping will all the major misses, even though his wife is superfine. But he’s got a thing for teens, which she isn’t anymore. The girls are stunning, which is not surprising from the likes of Roger Vadim, and this film pushed the envelope for nudity in a major US studio production (especially for MGM). Joanna Cameron (B.S. I Love You) later achieved a measure of fame in the Saturday morning live action Isis series, and Angie Dickinson was somewhat past having her legs insured for $1M, but still quite attractive.

The film itself is a mixture of sex comedy, murder mystery, and dull dialog (it was sourced from a novel), but that’s not what’s important. I was a junior in high school when this was released (1971), and I was Ponce. The knockout student bodies in the miniskirts were real, the rampant promiscuity was both unavoidable and unattainable (for Ponce and myself, not the jocks), and the highlight of the day was walking up the steps to classes on the second floor (had to wait for a foxy little mama in a mini skirt to go first). Yes, people smoked in the school building, I was sexually propositioned by a teacher, and another teacher and extra-curricular mentor was fired for sleeping with several of his students. He even told me in great detail why he preferred teenaged girls. That was creepy, but this film is REAL, and that’s what makes this an extraordinary experience.

The DVD:

Another of the new ‘Remastered Edition’ series of Warner Brothers Archives Collection DVDR releases. It certainly would have been groovy if they had included subtitles and maybe a trailer with this otherwise impressive but barebones release.

If you don’t know who the Beatles are, then you probably won’t consider this film to have an ounce of credibility, but trust me, it’s the real McCoy. Only thing missing is the streaker.

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