Whoever came up with the made-to-order DVD service at WarnerArchive.com is a genius. All studios have quite a number of titles in the vaults that for one reason or another the decision-makers don’t think warrant the financial investment required for a mass-market home-video release. In the past, these titles used to sit and collect dust, but now the technology is both available and affordable for the studios to create DVDs upon a consumer’s request and have opened up new revenue streams.
Pretty Maids All in a Row is now available to order, and I understand why no one had faith in it: it’s a terrible movie. Star Trek’s Gene Roddenberry produced and adapted Francis Pollini’s novel for this combination sex comedy/crime story, which is director Roger Vadim’s first American movie. Neither aspect is well executed and the movie is just an excuse to showcase very attractive women. It likely had an appeal to young boys and shy men at the time who couldn’t see naked women on their own, but now seems rather quaint.
Ponce de Leon Harper (John David Carson) is a sexually obsessed, high school virgin. He leaves his classroom because the presence of his sexy substitute teacher Miss Betty Smith (Angie Dickinson) gives him an erection. He goes to the bathroom to relax and finds a dead female student with a note pinned to her in the stall next to him. Captain Sam Surcher (Telly Savalas) arrives on scene to lead the investigation.
Michael McDrew (Rock Hudson) is the football coach, school psychologist, and co-principal. His nickname is Tiger and he sleeps with a number of the female students. Apparently that sort of thing was all right in 1971. And he’s not the only one. Tiger schemes to get Miss Smith to sleep with Ponce and because she wants to sleep with Tiger she goes along with it. Apparently I went to high school in the wrong decade.
After the second dead body, it’s obvious who the killer is to the audience. When two more bodies show up, it adds to the unbelievably of the story’s conclusion because not only does the killer escape but is assisted.
The end of the movie is even odder because after bedding Miss Smith, who appears destined to hook up with another student, Ponce has become a stud. He is seen making plans to have sex with three different women after school. Of course, they are at different times otherwise it may appear ridiculous.
Pretty Maids All in a Row is a male fantasy filled with beautiful women who are eager and willing to have sex. It plays out like a softcore porno with all the sex cut out and doesn’t have much to laugh at, neither intentionally nor unintentionally. The print is damaged and contains some of the worst ADR I have ever heard. The one positive the film has to offer is how nice it is see women not altered through plastic surgery.