Pretty Maids All in a Row by Mark Shipper



By Mark Shipper. Mark is an old radio colleague of Jay’s with a unique perspective on the movie.

It amazes me that nobody has seen (or even taken seriously) “Pretty Maids All in a Row”. I mean if you don’t count Quentin Tarantino. He has it on his list of the “12 Greatest Movies Of All Time” (along with “Taxi Driver”, “Jaws”, and “Apocalypse Now”, among others).

The original movie poster

The original movie poster

This is not a new film, it first hit theaters in 1971. Critics didn’t understand it, the public was shocked, and it quickly faded into obscurity. I first saw it in 2007, at Tarantino’s Grindhouse Film Festival. It knocked my socks off. The movie stars Rock Hudson as football coach and Assistant Principal “Tiger McDrew”.  I’ve never seen any other Rock Hudson movie before or since, all I know is he was one of the top leading men in Hollywood in the ’60s and ’70s, and it would’ve been career suicide at that time if the world knew he was gay. Hell, it still is today when it comes to leading men. Recently, Rob Pattinson was an object of lust for millions of teenage girls, yet his live-in girlfriend Kristen Stewart was so starved for sex, she did something unheard of: she slept with a director AFTER she had the part! Starlets have always done that to get the role, but after they’ve got it, it never happens. And don’t forget the GMD, a term coined by the ultimate insider’s website, Lainey Gossip: You’d think by now, in these more enlightened times and with Gay Marriage all but legal, there’d be more tolerance when it comes to this subject. And there is, but not for Leading Men. It’s still a career-ender.

 Tiger takes time out to personally coach a female student

Tiger takes time out to personally coach
a female student

However, in this movie at least, Hudson couldn’t possibly have been more macho. You could watch it with the full knowledge that he, sadly, was the first Major Celebrity to die from AIDS (in 1985), yet the thought that he might be gay never even pops into your head. That’s called “Good Acting” [and “Bad Timing”, it was right before the brilliant scientist Dr David Ho invented the so-called AIDS-cocktail, which prevents the HIV virus from turning into full blown AIDS].

One reviewer [who saw the film in 2007] described Hudson’s character by saying “He’s the prototypical big man on campus, with easygoing charm and a million-dollar smile. Women fall at his feet. Men worship him. He leads a charmed life, with a beautiful wife and a child, but that isn’t enough. So this conflicted man embarks on a never-ending quest for gorgeous high school cheerleaders. Not only does he have sex with these underage girls, the moment they become too demanding, he murders them”. [Note: He ended the lives of 4 of them—although he’s never shown in the act. The audience understands right away that they’re watching a very dark comedy. Key word there is “comedy”. Since we only see his likeable side, there’s actually laughter in the midst of all this].

Angie Dickinson does her best to remove a student’s virginity

Angie Dickinson does her best to remove a student’s virginity

There are other details that should be mentioned: Tiger mentors the fatherless water boy on his football team, a 17-year-old virgin, and convinces the boy’s sex-bomb teacher (Angie Dickinson) to sleep with him. Like every other female on campus, the teacher also wants some Tiger in her tank. But he makes it clear that the only way that’ll ever happen is if she teaches the boy everything she knows about sex. Which turns out to be a lot. They both come away satisfied.

At times, the movie is just plain fantasy: every female at this Malibu high school is dazzlingly beautiful. Just stunning. One by one, they march into Tiger’s office. The moment they do, he locks the door and turns on a neon sign that says “Testing”

Finally, after another lifeless girl is found, a Homicide Detective [Telly Savalas, 2 years before “Kojak”] starts to suspect the unthinkable: Could the real killer actually be the beloved Tiger McDrew? Despite being under suspicion, Tiger cheerfully seduces more girls, and one of them does not live to regret it. [We only hear about that, we never see it].

Kojak gets suspicious

Kojak gets suspicious

Yes, it’s sick, but let me ask you a question: did you ever see a movie where a criminal is so charming, so likeable, you forgive his crimes and want him to get away with it? That never happens, of course, except in “Pretty Maids All In a Row”. The final scene takes place at a funeral for his latest victim. We see Tiger’s beautiful wife slip a plane ticket to Brazil in her handbag. However, this is also seen by Kojak, who decides that he, too, should take a vacation to Brazil. But that’s it. On that ambiguous note, the movie ends. If he ever did get arrested, we don’t see it. We leave the theater with the impression he got away with it. And, somehow, most people in the audience I saw it with were happy for him!

Brigitte Bardot

Director Roger Vadim’s first wife Brigitte Bardot (widely considered the most beautiful woman in the world during their marriage)

The movie has a first-rate pedigree. The screenplay was written by Gene Rodenberry after he finished work on a little TV series he created called “Star Trek”. It was directed by a Frenchman, Roger Vadim, who knew a thing or two about beautiful women: the first of his five wives was the legendary Brigitte Bardot. His third was Jane Fonda (who he met while directing her in “Barbarella”). The other 3 wives were famous [at the time] models, but Vadim still wasn’t done. He also had a child out of wedlock with another legendary beauty Catherine Deneuve.

Vadim’s book, where he kisses & tells all

Vadim’s book, where he kisses & tells all

So what are you waiting for? There’s a beautifully remastered DVD at Amazon for 12 bucks. And if you don’t like it, I personally guarantee not to refund your money. And remember, this was just a movie. Nobody really got killed, they just got paid. Click this link to get it. Doiop.com/GetItHere

— Mark Shipper

And here’s a couple of trailers Doiop.com/OneMinuteTrailer Doiop.com/SeeThisToo