6.2/10
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Pretty Maids All in a Row (1971)

California State Police Captain Sam Surcher investigates a string of teenage girl murders at Oceanfront High School.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (novel)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Tiger
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...
Surcher
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Ponce
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Proffer
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Poldaski
...
Follo
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Grady
Susan Tolsky ...
Miss Craymire
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Jean
Gretchen Carpenter ...
Marjorie (as Gretchen Burrell)
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Hilda
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Yvonne
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Polly
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Sonny

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Storyline

There's murder at a California high school, where female students are being targeted by an unknown serial killer, a married teacher hides his flings with nubile students, and an awkward male is frustrated by the plethora of uninhibited freewheeling young girls. Written by HC

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Roger Vadim, the director who uncovered Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve and Jane Fonda, now brings you the American high school girl...and Rock Hudson. See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

12 July 1971 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

Querido profesor  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Quentin Tarantino selected this film as one of his choices for Sight & Sound magazine's 2012 edition of Top 10 Greatest Films of All Time. See more »

Goofs

When Sunny Swingle records her message for Tiger, the reel of tape is near the end, but when Ponce plays it back, it is near the beginning. See more »

Quotes

Michael 'Tiger' McDrew: [Deciding to go ahead with the scheduled football game] We play on Friday. Once you start retreating, life will drag you down.
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Soundtracks

Chilly Winds
Music by Lalo Schifrin
Lyrics by Mike Curb
Performed by The Osmonds
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User Reviews

 
No Hollywood Film Has Broken So Many Taboos
20 March 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

One of the most politically incorrect films of all time, Pretty Maids All In a Row is easily Roger Vadim's most audacious film. Scripted by Gene Roddenberry it focuses on the strange happenings taking place at a California high school. To better understand this film, you need to know more about Roger Vadim. He was by all accounts a unrepentant womanizer. He wrote not just one, but two books concerning his love affairs with Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve, Annette Atroyberg, and Jane Fonda. The filmmaker practically invented the modern day sex film in 1956 with And God Ceated Woman. In 2005, Jane Fonda went public with allegations claiming that Vadim forced her to have threesomes with other women.

Director Roger Vadim obviously loved women. The way the camera takes in the female form in this film shows that this guy truly enjoyed this cast of beautiful high school girls who are dropping out of school in the most unfortunate manner: they are being murdered. The first body is found by student Ponce. He discovers the nude body in the boy's washroom. After discovering the body we are introduced to the detective assigned to the case as well as an amoral guidance counselor named Tiger (played by Rock Hudson) who also happens to be sleeping with his students in his office.  The investigation goes and we discover that the murdered girls happened to be sleeping with Tiger. Despite of all the heat pressure placed on him, Tiger doesn't seem worried that he'll get caught. He continues coaching the football team, eventually setting Ponce up with a sexy new teacher (Angie Dickinson), and of course carrying on affairs with the students. 

In his autobiography, Vadim recalled the casting of the students in Pretty Maids All in a Row: "...I had auditioned over two hundred boys and about the same number of girls. Most of the girls who applied in the roles of high school alumni were aspiring actresses, though some were local students who merely found the whole thing amusing." For a man recovering from love sickness (Jane Fonda had just divorced Vadim), this succession of young teenage and college age beauties was intoxicating. Vadim specifically ordered the wardrobe department to dress the girls in micro skirts and tight fitting shirts. Notably, a good portion of them aren't wearing bras. Vadim films these young ladies, many of which appear to be underage, in a method that is so unapologetically sexual that you'll soon understand why this film will likely never appear on DVD. With pedophilia being such a hot topic in today's society, no film company wants to risk being accused of exploiting minors by releasing this on DVD.

With its nonstop leering shots of teenage body parts and seemingly giddy portrayal of sexual relationships between adults and children, does Pretty Maids All in A Row seem like a celebration of pedophilia? Uh, the correct term is 'ebephophilia' which means 'love of adolescents'. I guess it's a matter of opinion. When I first viewed this film as a teen, the director's constant zooming in on the breasts and buttocks of female high school students was a bit shocking, but had a point to it. I mean, high school is a particularly sexualized place being that many students are entering in relationships for the first times in their lives. Then I read a movie review about how Pretty Maids All in A Row may have been the most widespread female-kiddie-porn film ever seen. The slow, misty shots of the braless pubescent girls in their micro skirts were far too prevalent to be incidental. When I saw this movie again, this time in my late 20s, I had no problem understanding the reviewer's point of view. For example, the opening scene of this movie consists of a closeup of a pair of butts belonging to two female classmates of Ponce. These two, who look barely 18, show up randomly during this movie, and every scene they are in, the camera is fixated so closely on their mini skirts that it's laughable. I can find no reason for so pointlessly including these two girls in the movie other than for the director to showcase their gorgeous bodies with series of gratuitous shots of their crotches and rears. It seems all quite juvenille. Still, I don't think anyone should not see this film just because director Vadim can't go two minutes without fetishizing a sea of young female bodies.

To better understand all the blatant voyeurism directed towards these girls, remember that this is an American movie made with a European mentality. The European school of film-making seems to approach the entire feminine image in a different sense than the Americans do; the female body is perceived to be a work of art in itself, that it is graceful, elegant, beautiful and sensual, an aesthetic object with erotic power. Presenting it in the proper manner makes one marvel instead of blushing and turning away--that seems to be the attitude this director takes, and it causes the frequent nudity in the film to be not so much dirty, obscene, and debaucherous, as being instead a presentation of a thing of beauty.

The acting in Pretty Maids is first-rate. The cast is by far the film's strongest asset. These are all truly courageous performers, and the acting is so good, it's scary. The standouts are probably Rock Hudson and John David Carson. Not surprisingly, Telly Savalas as a Kojak-style detective steals every scene he is in. Angie Dickinson is great, but I was distracted by her aesthetic qualities.

Pretty Maids is a good movie that has quite a few shocking moments. It's quite implausible and uneven, but I recommend seeing it. It's one of those movies where you just HAVE to see it, you know? Not because it's some great masterpiece of cinema, but because there's a lot there to talk about. Check it out.


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