Friday, October 22, 2010

PRETTY MAIDS ALL IN A ROW

Warner Archive, the studio's Manufacture-On-Demand division, is really digging deep into the vaults lately, unearthing some truly offbeat cinematic treasures. Among their latest batch of releases is the 1971 film PRETTY MAIDS ALL IN A ROW - a great example of how bizarro mainstream studio films could be during that era.

Things are really hopping at Oceanfront High. The married football coach/guidance counselor, Tiger McDrew (Rock Hudson, ICE STATION ZEBRA, THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES) is sleeping with half of the underage female students in the school, the smokin' new substitute teacher (Angie Dickinson, BIG BAD MAMA) is seducing an awkward senior with the unfortunate name of Ponce de Leon (John David Carson, EMPIRE OF THE ANTS)... and somebody is murdering the school's shapeliest student bodies and leaving notes pinned to their panties. Fortunately, tough cop Sam Surcher (Telly Savalas, HORROR EXPRESS) is on the case, and determined to hunt down the psychopathic killer....

Originally released by MGM, PRETTY MAIDS was the first American film from French director Roger Vadim (BARBARELLA, AND GOD CREATED WOMAN), and was produced and scripted by STAR TREK creator Gene Roddenberry, from a novel by Francis Pollini. It is a very strange, politically incorrect  movie - part teen sex comedy, part murder mystery, part black comedy, with a slew of recognizable actors (including Keenan Wynn, Roddy McDowell, Barbara Leigh, and Jimmy Doohan) and a bevy of nubile teenage beauties. I was personally delighted to discover that the "pretty maids" included a young Joanna Cameron, star of the 70s Saturday AM kid's show SECRETS OF ISIS, and Margaret Markov of BLACK MAMA, WHITE MAMA fame.

Definitely deserving of a cult following based on its director and writer alone, PRETTY MAIDS also rates pretty high on the sleaze scale, with an exploitative plot line and enough underdressed cuties to rival anything from Roger Corman's film factory. That it was a major studio release with A-list stars makes it even more bizarre.

Warner Archive's DVD-R of PRETTY MAIDS presents the film in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital Mono sound. The cover declares that it is a "Remastered Edition," but in truth, the transfer is just adequate. A little soft, a little grainy, but perfectly watchable, and it looks pretty good a for a film of its vintage. As with the other Warner Archive titles, there are no extras.

For fans of offbeat cinema - or Gene Roddenberry - PRETTY MAIDS ALL IN A ROW is definitely worth checking out. While certainly not a great movie, it is both odd and entertaining... and filled with gorgeous babes.

Right now, the disc is only available direct from Warner's online store.

BUY: Pretty Maids All In A Row