Pretty Maids All In A Row is part sexploitation film, part drama, part comedy, and 100% camp. It all adds up to a somewhat odd but ultimately entertaining B movie.
One thing the 1971 release has going for it is a number of recognizable names. Rock Hudson, Angie Dickinson, Telly Savalas, and Keenan Wynn top the bill. It caught the first three at the crossroads of their careers. They had been successful movies stars and, in the case of Hudson, one of the leading men of the late fifties and sixties, but had been declining in popularity. Interestingly all three would go on to successful television series during the seventies. Hudson with Susan Saint James in McMillan & Wife (1971-1977), Angie Dickinson in Police Woman (1974-1978), and Savalas as Kojak (1973-1978) would emerge from the decade as the portrayers of memorable television characters.
The list of notable contributors did not stop with the actors. Gene Roddenberry of Star Trek fame was the producer and noted film musician Lalo Schifrin scored the soundtrack. This was also director Roger Vadim’s first American film. Today he remains best known for his many relationships and marriages which included Jane Fonda, Brigitte Bardot, and Catherine Deneuve.
The movie revolves around football coach and guidance counselor Michael “Tiger” McDrew (Hudson) who has an eye for the coeds who keep turning up dead. He is also the mentor for male student Ponce (John David Carson) who can’t get a date. Substitute teacher Betty Smith (Dickinson) has an interest in both Tiger and Ponce. Smart police captain Savalas is trying to solve the murders and not so smart police captain Wynn is just trying to survive. It all adds up to a somewhat obvious who done it with a couple of twists at the end.
Hudson alternates between creepy and debonair, Dickerson looks real good, and Savalas acts like Kojack without the lollipop.
The movie is just short of its fortieth anniversary and the years have not been kind to the participants. Only Dickinson and Schifrin are still alive as Hudson, Savalas, Wynn, Carson, Rodenberry, and Vadim have all passed away.
Pretty Maids All In A Row is the latest entry in The WB Archive Collection and has been remastered. The DVD picture quality is excellent given the age of the film. The package is just the movie, however, as there are no extras.
Pretty Maids All In A Row is one of those films that hovers between bad and good depending on the viewer’s tastes, but if you are so inclined it can be a pleasant why to wile away some time.