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
Screenplay by Gene Roddenberry
Based on Pretty Maids All in a Row 
by Francis Pollini
Starring Rock Hudson
Angie Dickinson
Telly Savalas
Music by Lalo Schifrin
Cinematography Charles Rosher, Jr.
Edited by Bill Brame
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • April 28, 1971 (1971-04-28)
Running time
91 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office 282,810 admissions (France)[1]

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 1968 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. Ponce, however, discovers that Tiger is guilty when he discovers evidence hidden in his office. Tiger drives Ponce to a pier where he confesses, and apparently commits suicide by driving his car into the ocean with Ponce as his witness. However, Surcher suspects that Tiger has faked his own death when he notices that his supposed widow is hiding a ticket to Brazil.

Primary cast[edit]

The "Pretty Maids:"

Production and reputation[edit]

The novel was published in 1968.[2] Producer Jay Weston and director James B. Harris originally optioned the novel and assigned William Hanley to write the script.[3] The movie was set up at MGM.[4][5] Joe Namath was meant to star as the football coach.[6]

Eventually Gene Roddenberry rewrote the script and came on board as producer; the job of directing was given to Roger Vadim - his first movie in two years. "There is no role in the film for Jane Fonda," said the director who was estranged from his wife at the time.[7]

It was Vadim's first American film, though he said he had received offers before - a contract with Paramount for five films ten years previously, and one with MGM three years earlier. However he says he bought himself out of both contracts because he could not get the necessary control. Vadim says he has to be persuaded to go back to MGM:

It seemed this time they were more interested to give more credit to the director. 'We have changed' they said. But form the moment I get here I fight like hell. They want names but they don't want to pay for them. For the first time I will be at a studio for a major company in Hollywood. In a way I like a challenge. I really think it's necessary to get involved with something new. It's so good to break all your habits. In France I can do anything, here I have to fight.That's a good thing. They respect you if you fight and it keeps you alert.[8]

"I am not trying to make a statement on America," added Vadim. "I tell a story and the story happens to be located in America."[9]

Rock Hudson was signed to star and filming began in August 1970.[10] Brigitte Bardot was offered the female lead but could not get out of a prior commitment and Angie Dickinson played the role instead.[8]

The cast included eight young female newcomers, the "pretty maids": Brenda Sykes, Joy Bang, Gretchen Burrell, Joanna Cameron, Aimée Eccles, June Fairchild, Margaret Markov, and Diane Sherry.[11]

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.[12] 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.[13]

Reception[edit]

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.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Box office information for Roger Vaim films at Box Office Story
  2. ^ Tiger McDrew: PRETTY MAIDS ALL IN A ROW Sokolov, Raymond. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 20 Oct 1968: Q59.
  3. ^ Paging Ethel Waters By A. H. WEILER. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 24 Nov 1968: D18.
  4. ^ MOVIE CALL SHEET: 'Eye on Sparrow' Film Set Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 26 Nov 1968: g16.
  5. ^ MGM Will Begin Nine Films in '69 Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 30 Nov 1968: a5.
  6. ^ Burbank Honors Rowan, Martin Haber, Joyce. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 15 May 1969: d21.
  7. ^ Vadim's 'Pretty Maids': Vadim's 'Pretty Maids' By A.H. WEILER. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 03 May 1970: 109.
  8. ^ a b Vadim Reappearing With Promising Film for MGM: Vadim and Promising Film Thomas, Kevin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 23 Aug 1970: q10.
  9. ^ Movies: In Vadim's Garden 'Pretty Maids All in a Row' By ALJEAN HARMETZ. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 06 Sep 1970: 65.
  10. ^ Rock Hudson in Star Role Lundy, Dori. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 24 July 1970: h12.
  11. ^ THE VADIM GIRLS: First he catapulted Brigitte Bardot to stardom, then Catherine Deneuve... and now director Roger Vadim sets his sites on these luscious lovelies. Has he done it again? Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 27 Sep 1970: f7.
  12. ^ Uni High Footballers to Appear in Film Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 07 Sep 1970: h22.
  13. ^ Patricia Ward Biederman, "Campuses Make Popular Film Locations : As Stars, Schools Are in Class of Their Own", Los Angeles Times, March 1, 1987.
  14. ^ "Read New All-Time Top 10 Lists From Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Francis Ford Coppola, Quentin Tarantino & More | The Playlist". Blogs.indiewire.com. Retrieved 2012-08-05. 

External links[edit]