From 1971, "Pretty Maids All in a Row" is a study in contradictions. It's a sex comedy, but written by "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry. It stars Rock Hudson as quite the ladies' man, but, well, Rock Hudson. It's rated R, but sports a theme song by those famous Mormon vocalists known as The Osmonds. And for a comedy, it's not really funny.
But for all its wrong turns, "Maids" is still something to see, just to experience how daringly bizarre it is.
John David Carson plays 17-year-old virgin Ponce de Leon Harper, a high schooler with constant erection problems who discovers the dead body of a female student in the boys' restroom. Telly Savalas investigates, sans lollipops. Hudson is Michael "Tiger" McDrew, a wacky guidance counselor with a porn 'stache who beds more coeds than counsels them, despite having a way-hot wife waiting at home.
Drool-worthy substitute teacher Ms. Smith (Angie Dickinson) wouldn't mind putting a Tiger in her tank, but instead, he convinces her to help cure Ponce of his sexual frustration "? after hours and at her own pad, of course.
And then more girls' bodies start turning up.
Like a proto-"Heathers" without the whip-smart script or staying power, director Roger Vadim's near-freeform black comedy rings rather dated, what with its hippy-dippy ideals and multiple peace signs. It's to be admired for pushing the envelope, even if the act serves no purpose. It certainly stands of its time, as I doubt today's Hollywood would dare attempt to play sex with students for laughs "? not when that kind of thing makes uncomfortable headlines on a regular basis.
Vadim is known primarily for two things "? "Barbarella" and "And God Created Woman" "? which are known primarily for their respective lead actresses' two things. "Maids" doesn't utilize the sweater-filling Dickinson enough to enjoy such nostalgia with viewers today, but this movie is actually a lot like those: almost proud of its messy nature and emphasis on sexiness over style over substance. "?Rod Lott