Just finished Pretty Maids All in a Row
. It's exactly the kind of movie I would've expected Gene Roddenberry to write and produce given completely free rein -- totally obsessed with sex and the female body from beginning to end, and finally including the (relatively) full nudity that I bet he wished he could get away with on TV. It's very much a product of its time -- today there's probably no way a movie about a sexual-predator high-school teacher seducing his underage students could be played as a comedy, even a dark one. At least not one that painted him so sympathetically. It's trying to be about the sexual revolution, the way that the young generation doesn't have the sexual inhibitions of the old, but director Roger Vadim and Roddenberry seemed to interpret female sexual liberation mostly to mean that hot young girls were now happy to participate in being sexually objectified for men's gratification.
Rock Hudson was his usual Rock Hudsony self for the most part, even though he was ultimately playing against his usual type. Telly Savalas did a good job as the homicide detective, two years before he first played Kojak. Keenan Wynn did a decent job as a really stupid local cop. Roddy McDowall was a bit wasted as a feckless principal, but I guess my inclination thanks to Lord Love a Duck
is to expect him
to be the featured psychopath in a dark high-school comedy. Angie Dickinson was okay as the main romantic interest, but since she didn't really have much of a character beyond being a sex object, I can't say that much about her. And John David Carson, who was nominally the sympathetic male lead as a sexually frustrated and shy teenager, was really kind of creepy and stalkerish, even more so than the guy who turned out to be the murderer.
There were some familiar Star Trek
faces here: James Doohan and William Campbell played Savalas's police underlings, and frequent Trek voiceover actor Bartell LaRue had an uncredited role as an newscaster (one that IMDb hasn't caught onto yet, but I recognized his face and voice). Roddenberry also brought Trek costume designer William Ware Theiss onboard the production. Although the most pleasant surprise for me was a supporting role for the stunning JoAnna Cameron, later to play the superheroine Isis on a Saturday morning show infinitely more wholesome than this movie. I have to admit to being very disappointed that she wasn't one of the actresses who had nude scenes in the movie, although she certainly showed off her spectacular legs to good effect.
Surprisingly, TCM host Ben Mankiewicz's introduction and afterword made absolutely no mention of Roddenberry's involvement in this film. You'd think it would merit at least a footnote, given that it's Roddenberry's first feature film and the only non-Trek feature he was ever involved with.