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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > College > Murder > Comedy > Pretty Maids All In A Row (1971/Warner Archive DVD)

Pretty Maids All In A Row (1971/Warner Archive DVD)

 

Picture: C+†††† Sound: C†††† Extras: D†††† Film: B-

 

 

Some films are so interesting that you wonder how they disappear from the discourse of discussing interesting movies.Sometimes it is because they get lost in the vast catalogs of major studios.It can also be because a good print of the film has been hard to track down and not enough people know about the film.The great thing about the Warner Archive series is that it is uncovering these films and putting them out, even if they may not have huge sales.Then there are films like Roger Vadimís Pretty Maids All In A Row (1971), which may turn into one of their more popular releases.

 

This gem was based on the Francis Pollini novel and had a screenplay written (and co-produced) by no less that Gene Roddenberry, known for his work in the Science Fiction genre with Star Trek and other such projects he tried to launch, but he proves here he can write a smart murder mystery with wit and comedy you might not expect from him or an American production set in the then-modern day.Vadim just came off of the hit Barbarella (1968) and it was felt by MGM that he could well handle a large female cast film with a style that would stand out.Then there was the cast, one that has appreciated a good bit since this first arrived.

 

Rock Hudson plays a football coach whose side hobby is sleeping with several of the female students, though the strict principal (Roddy McDowall) would not approve of this at all, he does not know.Then there is the sexy older teacher (Angie Dickinson, whose star was on the rise) who has been isolated personally since her last relationship ended.The coach may be interested in her, but wants her to help out a young male student (John David Carson) discover his sexual prowess.

 

However, the games on and off the field go on the backburner when one of the female students turns up dead in a bathroom.In comes a police investigator (Telly Savalas just before Kojak) and a rowdy police officer (Keenan Wynn) to find out what has happened on this otherwise happy campus.James Doohan, William Campbell and a large amount of very sexy actresses as the female student body only make this all the more interesting.This includes JoAnna Cameron, who would be the most successful four years later as the superheroine Isis, a big hit TV show on Saturday morning TV.

 

The film is not perfect, but so much of it works, it has some funny scenes, some memorable scenes, is frank about sex without being stupid about it and the mystery is thoroughly thought out.I was surprised how much I started to remember, but glad I forgot how the killings were being done, why and by who.A top-rate A-production from MGM, Pretty Maids All In A Row is about to turn 40 and could go a few rounds with any current such film with ease.This one is worth going out of your way for, from its new camp value to just how well it is actually made.

 

 

The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image is from a remastered source and was lensed by Director of Photography Charles Rosher, Jr., who later worked on several Robert Altman films (3 Women, A Wedding) and other important works like The Late Show, Semi-Tough and The Onion Field.This is very well blocked and shot throughout, makes great use of locations and the MetroColor usually looks really good here.The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is a little weak and though it is also fixed up, you can hear some flaws in the sound and uneven volume in the dialogue recording, especially where audio was later looped in post-production.Lalo Schifrinís score is very good and another gem from his amazingly prolific period of music making at this time.Sadly, there are no extras, but this film is worth going out of your way for.

 

 

You can order this release exclusively at the Warner Archives website at this link:

 

http://bit.ly/wac_ROW

 

 

-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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