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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.



(screenplay), (novel)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Susan Tolsky ...
Miss Craymire
Gretchen Carpenter ...
Marjorie (as Gretchen Burrell)
June Fairchild ...


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


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 »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

12 July 1971 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

Querido profesor  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


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 »


As Jill Fairbutt falls off the commode in the overhead shot, her right hand slides almost to the edge of the lid. Later, in a low-level shot, her hand is positioned more than halfway across the lid. See more »


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.
See more »


Chilly Winds
Music by Lalo Schifrin
Lyrics by Mike Curb
Performed by The Osmonds
See more »

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User Reviews

70's "Free Love" Thinking Taken To The Max
18 January 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This combination black comedy/sexploitation/thriller from director Roger Vadim is undoubtedly the most provocative American movie to come out of the 70's. It starts off with Ponce, our male protagonist, watching as girls pass by. We are given a shot that clues us into the tone of the entire film. Vadim films two teenage girls walking from behind and then brazenly zooms in on their behinds. I was a bit shocked to see Vadim open his movie with such a blatant butt shot. That was until I recalled that this same director opened up his 1956 film, And God Created Woman, with a closeup shot of Brigitte Bardot's bare behind. It's undeniably sexy, but some will see it as sexualizing children as these two girls in their mini-skirts look awfully young. But I credit the director for nailing what it feels be like to be a male high school student surrounded by beautiful female peers through the use of brilliant POV.

We then shift to an outside shot of a high school. We're given a few scenes of the students going about their daily activities. All the female students are impossibly beautiful here, dressed in mini-skirts, high heels, and low cut shirts. We are then introduced to Tiger, played by Rock Hudson, in one of his most offbeat roles. He plays a coach/counselor at a Southern Californian High School. Even though he is a married man, he has no qualms having sex with various female students. Meanwhile, a killer is leaving corpses of female students along various parts of the school. An investigation begins and Tiger is the prime suspect. In the meantime, one of his students, Ponce is having a tough time finding a girlfriend. Tiger is willing to give the young man some help. He enlists the help of Miss Smith, played by Angie Dickinson, to help Ponce along, and we are talking about a VERY adult education.

Pretty Maids was a mega flop on first release, and it permanently damaged Vadim's career. But today it has the earmarks of a classic, mostly due to three brilliant performances. First off, Rock Hudson in perhaps his last great picture. Just like he was in every other picture before Pretty Maids, he's the man girls want and the man boys want to be, but here it's darker and more cynical version of himself than he ever let people see on the screen. John David Carson is fascinating as Ponce. He goes from awkward school boy to confident man in a series of believable, sequences. It's a difficult role to play, but he makes it look easy. Angie Dickinson has never been better. Angie is sexy throughout the movie playing a naive young teacher, seemingly unaware of how sexy she is.

The premise of this Pretty Maids is "free love" for all, which includes teachers having sex with their students! It's shocking to look back and see how strange America was during this time of "free love," as the concept of this movie would be completely taboo now. American is far more puritanical today, especially when it comes to the issue of teens and sex. I think the reason it still hasn't found a home on DVD is because the film takes a libertine view of adolescent sexuality, far more than any other American film has. America has a hard time with this and this film could turn a lot more heads now than perhaps it did in the more permissive 70's. The basic plot premise is shocking, but what REALLY grabs your attention are the literally hundreds of leering shots of female butts, breasts, crotches, legs, or a combo of the 4, all belonging to the various female high school appearing in this film. Just about every female actress playing the part of a student is sexualized in this movie. Outside of a Tinto Brass movie, I can't recall any other film that lovingly showcased the female posterior by filming it in closeup again and again. As outrageous as the numerous shots of rear ends are, they can't hold a candle to all the up skirt peeks director Vadim shows us. We are given scene after scene of girls in impossibly sort mini-skirts bending over, crossing their legs, standing on elevated surfaces, or just walking up the steps. Vadim finds it mandatory to show us a flash of their panties every time. Pretty Maids must have set some sort of record for pantie shots than any movie in history. Did girls in the early 70's really dress like THIS? I can't help but wonder where were there parents during the making of the film? As a man who would like to have a child someday, and hopefully a little girl, it's odd seeing Vadim's camera practically rams itself up the mini-skirt of a young girl going through puberty. If you're a father of a teenage girl and you're reading this review, you might feel guilty for enjoying the content of this movie. But you really shouldn't be. However, I can't emphasize this enough: The girls who appear in this film are NOT the type portrayed in movies that deal with H.S. You know, 20 something actresses cast as H.S. students. The actresses playing the young girls in this movie are actually that, young girls. Some will find the nonstop leering shots of girls who appear to be in the 15-19 age range to cross the line of good taste. I found them VERY necessary considering they were meant to show how Ponce (not to mention director Vadim) views high school aged girls.

I suppose a film that deals this frankly with adolescent sexuality this could be made today, but only as an unreleased independent film, ala Ken Park. In the 70s, however, this script was able to attract a whole plethora of respected actors and actresses. You'll ask yourself the whole time how a movie like this could be made in the first place! See it now.

11 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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