Retro Film Report #1: Pretty Maids All in a Row

In my last post I brought up the film Pretty Maids All in a Row. This is one of those films I can barely recall, and would possibly dislike upon rewatching it. However, the longer it continues to be unavailable on DVD, the more intriguing it becomes.

One of the most interesting things about the film is the cast of characters associated with it:

Gene Roddenberry, the creator of "Star Trek", wrote the script and produced the film.

Roger Vadim, the director of Barbarella, directed it. He had just recently ended his marriage to Jane Fonda before directing Pretty Maids.

Rock Hudson stars as a pervert coach. Hudson's career was basically over in 1971, so I guess he was taking what he could get. In the film he looks rather haggard and unhealthy... a far cry from his Pillow Talk days.

Angie Dickinson is basically pimped out by Rock Hudson's character to one of the students, and Telly Savalas, of course, plays the cop.

The theme song, "Chilly Winds" was performed by The Osmonds.

The song was written by Lalo Schifrin who is best known for composing the theme music for the TV series "Mission Impossible". Schifrin has composed literally hundreds of film soundtracks including The Amityville Horror and Magnum Force.

One of the pretty maids is Joanna Cameron, perhaps best known as Isis from the TV series "The Secrets of Isis".

Another cop is played by Keenan Wynn, who played the Winter Warlock in Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

Other notable celebs of the day include: James Doohan (Scotty on "Star Trek"), Roddy McDowall (Planet of the Apes), and Barbara Leigh (Vampirella).

Now, I like to talk about movies as much as the next guy, but I hate to read reviews of films that just ramble on, and on, and on. So let me just quote Roger Ebert who put it pretty succinctly:

"One thing you can say about Pretty Maids All in a Row. Rock Hudson sex comedies sure have changed since Pillow Talk...The movie itself is, finally, embarrassing."

That about sums it up. The movie is certainly a far, far cry from Pillow Talk. The movie is so unbelievably sexually deviant that I would say it is a far cry from movies released today! I honestly think that if you tried to make this movie today, you would be criminally prosecuted (or at least kiss your film career goodbye).

Again, I haven't seen it in awhile (oddly enough, it aired uncut on Turner Classic Movies and I missed it), so my memory may be a bit cloudy. However, I just remember the way the camera leers at the high school students, the illicit relationships between teachers and students, and the way in which the maids are disposed of made this a truly irresponsible picture.... and hence my need to see it.

But here's the primary reason I want to see Pretty Maids All in a Row:

I really treasure a movie (or even a picture or song) that serves as a brilliant snapshot of the time. For example, Blow Up may not be the best movie to come out of the 60's, but it's a great time capsule of Swingin' London - and for that, it's worth a watch. (Sigh) Oh well, maybe some day we'll be able to see the film Roger Vadim called "the most enjoyable piece of filmmaking I have ever done in my career."


  1. AnonymousJuly 29, 2008

    PRETTY MAIDS isn't a good film but it's not an unwatchable one, either. It would make a great double feature with Russ Meyer's BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS.

  2. I think I need to see this.

  3. buzz- Good idea for a double feature. Oddly enough, the critic who slammed Pretty Maids (quoted in my post), Roger Ebert, actually wrote Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

    mr. trout- Me too. Unfortunately, the only place you can find this is probably in a dark alley in Bangkok.

  4. Was very dissapointed when I caught it on cable in the mid 80s. The problem I think is Rock. Although definitely in a lull, his career wasn't actually over. He was next to embark on 6 successful seasons of MacMillan and Wife in which his laid back, easygoing humor and Thin Man style romance really worked well! Here, though, he seems thoroughly disinterested to me!
    McDowall was Hudson's best friend and appears (sometimes uncredited) in a number of his films. Doohan was probably brought in by Roddenberry whose well-known (to TREK fans)kinks dot the film. Never liked Vadim, though, either so that doesn't help. Bottom line--Interesting...but dull as all get out!

  5. I own it on VHS and it is, frankly, cringe-inducing.

  6. Not only Doohan, but Bill Theiss (another Trek alum) was costume designer.

  7. There's a website that has this & other hard-to-find movies on DVD. Go to http://www.modcinema.com/page2b.html. They have this movie, "Toomorrow", "Skatetown, U.S.A.", and other movies I've seen you mention on Retroscpace.

  8. you can find a lot of these classic movies at http://www.dvdsentertainmentonline.com/ Good Prices

  9. There are classics like these at http://www.dvdsentertainmentonline.com/

  10. I really enjoy these movie reviews !! Have you thought of reviewing the other two Matt Helm movies , " The Wrecking Crew " and " Murderer's Row ?? " Also , I recommend the films : " Dixie Dynamite , " " Delinquent Schoolgirls , " and " The Lollypop Girls in Hard Candy . " Plus the Harry Novak films , and there are plenty of nurse and teacher movies that I'd love to see reviews of as well !!