|Pretty Maids All in a Row|
theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Roger Vadim|
|Produced by||Gene Roddenberry|
|Screenplay by||Gene Roddenberry|
|Based on||Pretty Maids All in a Row|
by Francis Pollini
|Music by||Lalo Schifrin|
|Cinematography||Charles Rosher, Jr.|
|Edited by||Bill Brame|
week of May 10, 1971 (LA)
|91-92 or 95 minutes|
|Box office||282,810 admissions (France)|
Pretty Maids All in a Row is a 1971 American mystery film that is part black comedy, part murder mystery. Starring Rock Hudson alongside Angie Dickinson, it 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.
In Oceanfront High School, a (fictitious) American high school, at 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 has participated in a number 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.
The "Pretty Maids:"
The novel was published in 1968. Producer Jay Weston and director James B. Harris originally optioned the novel and assigned William Hanley to write the script.Joe Namath was meant to star as the football coach.
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.
It was Vadim's first American film, though he said he had received offers before - a contract ten years previously with Paramount for five films, and one with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) three years earlier. He said he had bought himself out of both contracts because he could not get the necessary control. Vadim said he had to be persuaded to return to MGM:
It seemed this time they (MGM) were more interested to give more credit to the director. 'We have changed' they said. But from 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.
"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."
Rock Hudson was signed to star, and filming began in August 1970.Brigitte Bardot was offered the female lead but could not get out of a prior commitment; Angie Dickinson played the role instead. The cast included eight young female newcomers, the "pretty maids": Brenda Sykes, Joy Bang, Gretchen Burrel], Joanna Cameron, Aimée Eccles, June Fairchild, Margaret Markov, and Diane Sherry.
The film was in production from August 10 to October 25, 1970. It was shot in large part at University High School in West Los Angeles. Some years later, a University High administrator told the Los Angeles Times that the high sexual and violent content of the film should have precluded it from being approved for filming at the school. Other scenes were shot at Santa Monica Pier and Venice Marina., while the football sequence was filmed at Rancho La Cienega Park using a local football team and school band.
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.