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“Pretty Maids In A Row”
Reviewer:
Wayne Klein
Studio: Warner Archive Collection
Genre:
Drama
Release Date:
11/10/10
Special Features:

Trailer

Review:

Writer/producers have to do something with their down time and Gene Roddenberry who had recently had “Star Trek” cancelled decided to try his hand in a different arena—feature film. Unfortunately, Roddenberry found that he just didn’t have the ability as a feature film writer/producer. Exhibit A is “Pretty Maids All in a Row” Roger Vadim’s camp “classic” (exhibit “B” would be “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”). Vadim’s career had taken a downturn as well. Neither one of these men were at the top of their game with this film which starred TV and film veterans who were completely out of their element. ***

The stars of “Pretty Maids All in a Row” Rock Hudson, Angie Dickinson and Telly Savalas had watched as their film careers began to whither and each would find greater success playing what would become iconic TV characters. Putting together this many talented individuals and having them play outside of their comfort zone particularly on a project like this was a major mistake—“Pretty Maids” was a box office and critical disaster when it was released and while a minor curiosity is little more than footnote in the career of everyone involved. ***

Savalas plays a cop trying to solve the mysterious murder of coeds many of whom have ended up in the bed or involved with Michael McDrew (Hudson) a guidance counselor and football coach. There are many that have motive including teacher Betty Smith (Dickinson) and even one of McDrew’s student (John David Caron) but the clues point in a variety of directions. ***

When the audience is ahead of the characters in the film that’s often a bad sign particularly in a whodunit like “Pretty Maids” particularly if the twists are somewhat absurd or predictable (both in this case) and if the material is subpar or obvious (ditto). “Pretty Maids” is notable for who made it and rather than for being a good film and arrives as part of Warner’s burn-on-demand DVD series. ---

Image & Sound:

As with most of the burn-on-demand DVDs that Warner has put out the film print used looks nice—it’s clean although colors have faded a bit and there is occasional bits of wear and tear visible as well. Over all it is a nice presentation of the film without much sprucing up. ***

Audio sounds quite nice with the original mono soundtrack quite clear. ---

Special Features:

Nothing of note beyond the theatrical trailer for the film.

Final Words:

“Pretty Maids All in a Row” remains an artifact of its era—it’s certainly goofy but the camp charm of the film has worn thin 40 years later. Vadim and Roddenberry would move back to better things while the actors would win fame and some measure of critical respect with their respective 70’s TV series (“McMillian and Wife” for Hudson, “Police Woman” for Dickinson and “Kojak” for Savalas). ***

Is “Pretty Maids” worth the price tag? I’d suggest this only for the devoted but warn those who have fond memories of the film beyond seeing these vets in action, this film has little to recommend it including a poorly written screenplay and ham fisted direction that only proves that when Vadim was out of his element he could as lost as Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg and James Cameron. I’d take a pass.

 

 
 
 
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