Pretty Maids All in a Row

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For the nursery rhyme, see Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary. For the Eagles song, see Hotel California (Eagles album).
Pretty Maids All in a Row
Pretty Maids All in a Row1971.png
Pretty Maids All in a Row theatrical poster
Directed by Roger Vadim
Produced by Gene Roddenberry
Written by Francis Pollini (novel)
Gene Roddenberry
Starring Rock Hudson
Angie Dickinson
Telly Savalas
Music by Lalo Schifrin
Cinematography Charles Rosher Jr.
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • April 28, 1971 (1971-04-28)
Running time 91 min.
Country United States
Language English

Pretty Maids All in a Row is an American mystery film that is part dark comedy, part murder mystery. It starred Rock Hudson alongside Angie Dickinson, and was released on April 28, 1971. Roger Vadim directed the film, which Gene Roddenberry produced, having dramatized a novel written by Francis Pollini into the screenplay from which Vadim worked. This was Roddenberry's only feature film writing credit.

Basic synopsis[edit]

The story is set in "Oceanfront High School," a fictitious American high school in the height of the sexual revolution. Young female students are being targeted by an unknown serial killer. Meanwhile, a male student called Ponce is experiencing sexual frustration, surrounded by a seemingly unending stream of beautiful and sexually provocative classmates.

Michael "Tiger" McDrew (Hudson) is the high school's football coach and guidance counselor. But there is another aspect of Tiger's character: He is quite fond of sexual encounters with female students. Tiger tries to befriend Ponce and help him deal with his sexual needs by encouraging him to seek the affections of a sexy substitute teacher, Miss Betty Smith (Dickinson).

Meanwhile, one young girl after another turns up dead. A police detective captain, Sam Surcher (Telly Savalas), investigates the case but never obtains enough courtroom-admissible evidence to make an arrest. Tiger is suspected, but never caught red-handed. Surcher suspects that Tiger has faked his own death when he notices that his supposed widow is hiding a ticket to Brazil.

Production and reputation[edit]

Pretty Maids was Vadim's first American film. The April 1971 issue of Playboy magazine published an article about the movie written by Vadim. This includes a nine-page pictorial of actresses Angie Dickinson, Gretchen Burrell, Aimee Eccles, Margaret Markov, Playboy bunny Joyce Williams, and others.

The production was largely filmed at University High School in West Los Angeles. Some years later, a University High administrator told the Los Angeles Times that the sexual and violent content of the film should have precluded it from being approved for filming at the school.[1]

Quentin Tarantino selected this film as one of his choices for Sight & Sound magazine's 2012 edition of Top 10 Greatest Films of All Time.[2]

Primary cast[edit]

The "Pretty Maids:"

  • Brenda Sykes: Pamela Wilcox, an African American student
  • Joy Bang: Rita
  • Gretchen Burrell: Marjorie
  • Joanna Cameron: Yvonne Millick, a dark-haired student
  • Aimée Eccles: Hilda Lee, an Asian American student
  • June Fairchild: Sonny Swangle, an always-laughing student
  • Margaret Markov: Polly
  • Diane Sherry: Sheryl


External links[edit]