Roger Vadim once referred to it as “the most enjoyable film I made in my career.” Gene Roddenberry fans generally have no idea it exists. Rock Hudson was at the tail end of his career when he made it. And the Osmonds recorded the totally awesome theme song.
So why doesn’t everyone already own “Pretty Maids All In A Row”?
Oh, that’s right. It’s been totally unavailable until next week, when Warner Archive (who should be given some sort of Congressional medal for their efforts in the last few years) releases the film on DVD for the first time. I saw the movie in February of 1999, when I was at QT III, the third film festival that Quentin Tarantino programmed at the old original Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, and I fell for it, head over heels. It’s a slasher movie, and it’s a teen sex comedy, and it’s a sort of last lap around the pool for Rock Hudson, and somehow, all of these different things going on work together.
Angie Dickinson is exceptionally sexy in the film, and Rock Hudson may have been in his sunset years, but he is sharp and charming and manages to make an incredibly distasteful role into something almost charming. Roger Vadim packed the film with crazy gorgeous ’70s girls, all of whom seem practically offended by the notion of wearing clothing. The young lead in the film, John David Carson, should have had a real career, but for some reason this is one of those one-offs. I don’t think Vadim is a great director, but I think he’s occasionally a really fun director, and maybe it was the chemistry between his sensibility and the totally wackadoo screenplay by “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry, who reveals himself as sort of a gleeful superfreak with this one. Whatever the case, this was a case of Vadim getting it all just right.
Be warned… “Pretty Maids All In A Row” plays rough, and it’s a genuinely dirty little movie. One of the things that makes me laugh is just how shameless it really is. It’s a film that throws everything at you, and Vadim seems to operate without restraint here. Maybe it’s because it was a low-budget teensploitation film and no one was paying attention, but it feels like they got one over on everyone, and now, with Warner Archive finally putting the film out, it feels like they’ve put one over as well.
And I couldn’t be happier about it.
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