Pretty Maids All In a Row (1971) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Pretty Maids is an all-but-forgotten 1971 black comedy which was written by Star Trek's creator, Gene Roddenberry, and directed by Eurotrash legend Roger Vadim. It featured a theme song by the Osmond Brothers.

It sort of hinges on the premise that all of our high school fantasies were true. All the chicks had perfect bodies, ran around in mini-skirts, and had sexual habits that made minks look like the Sisters of St. Joseph. Remember that sexy teacher whose dress you looked up every day? Well, she really wanted to sleep with you, but you just never asked. Remember that wise coach who was also your guidance counselor and who taught you so much? You should have told him you needed some poontang. He'd have been there for you, dude. He would have told the hot teacher (who wanted his bod) that you were impotent and needed the cure, and that only she could help. And then she would have cleaned your pipes.


  • John David Carson showed his butt briefly, when in bed with Angie Dickinson


  • Angie Dickinson showed her butt. There is a brief flash of her breasts, and even a frame or two of pubes as she rolls over.
  • Joy Bang showed her breasts during and after a sex scene with Hudson
  • Gretchen Burrell showed her breasts and possibly a brief, dark flash of her crotch
  • Aimee Eccles showed the top half of her butt while sitting naked on a desk
  • June Fairchild showed her breasts and pubes as she was taking a Polaroid of herself
  • an anonymous pretty maid took off her dress in Hudson's office

Rock Hudson plays the coach, “Tiger” McDrew, a former professional sporting great who has a wholesome recipe to turn youths into happy adults. For the boys - plenty of sports to keep them away from disruptive influence like girls and drugs and did I mention girls. For the girls - well, there's only one way that they can ever learn to be women, if you catch my drift. Ol' Dr Hudson has the prescription of love. Yes, that's right, Rock was sleeping with the females and pimping females for the males. He was really into that whole heterosexual thing. Unfortunately, more and more of the high school chickadees start to feel possessive about Rock, and their desire to hook him seems to coincide quite closely to their commitment to an eternal Dirt Nap.

Why, whoever could be killing them all? Well, Rock is happily married, and he just can't have his wife find out about his special proclivities, can he?

It is a completely irresponsible movie, filled with amoral characters, other characters who know about the amorality but don't care, and other characters who simply don't care - period. It features plenty of high school teachers seducing students of both sexes, and gratuitous camera angles up the skirts of high school girls, except of course for the ones who are already naked. In fact, this film will absolutely make you squirm when you experience it with today's eyes and ears. Women found naked and brutalized? The perfect setup for plenty of cavalier remarks (“Cool! We never practice on the day of a murder”) and visual jokes. Roddy McDowell, the principal, offers a fitting funeral oration, that so-and-so was a great girl and a "terrific little cheerleader". I suppose a film like this could be made today, but only as a no-budget independent film, almost an underground film, by someone like Larry Clark. Clark's film Ken Park is similar in some ways, but Ken Park was virtually unreleased. In the early 70s, however, this script was able to attract the wholesome Rock Hudson to star, backed up by Telly Savalas, Scotty from Star Trek, Roddy McDowell, Angie Dickinson, and Keenan Wynn.

I guess the film is sort of fun in a shallow, superficial Roger Vadim kind of way, although Vadim's slimy European softcore attitude didn't exactly mesh very well with the wholesome "palm trees and cheerleaders" setting, and the humor really didn't work for me, neither in 1971 nor now. The film's smirking condescension toward the dead women was coldly funny, and still is, as a satire of how little people really care for one another, but this is not your basic laugh-out-loud kind of humor.

On the other hand, I'm embarrassed to admit, when I first saw this film with my friends, back when it was in the theaters, some of us were wont to repeat the line about "a terrific little cheerleader" when we discussed people who died tragically.

"Yeah, remember Bobby Kennedy? Geez, he was a great man ... and a terrific little cheerleader."

I guess you had to be there.

We did this for years, so I guess the film made some kind of an impression on us.

Of course, we took a lot of drugs in those days.


The Critics Vote

  • Two and a half stars from the name critics. Maltin 3/4, Ebert 2/4.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDB readers say 5.6/10
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C. Quite interesting in some ways, although more as a time capsule than anything else.

Return to the Movie House home page