Monday, March 21, 2011

Tarantino's March Madness Pt.8

Over the course of March the New Beverly Cinema is housing Quentin Tarantino's March Madness. The whole month is in celebration of Quentin Tarantino's birthday and will feature 37 movies selected by the master himself. Most of the films that are playing come from Tarantino's personal collection and a number of them are not available on DVD. The month long programming will feature plenty of grindhouse movies that have been influential to Tarantino and plenty of others as well. Tarantino's March Madness will also be capped off with a seven day run of the uncut version to "Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair." I will be attending thirteen nights of programming at the New Beverly Cinema and in an effort to give my readers the most in-depth experience I can I've planned to breakdown each of the events. Hope you enjoy and here's Part Eight...

Note: Technically this is the 13th event of Tarantino's March Madness however it is only the 8th event I've attended. I missed the "Crack House" and "Redneck Miller" double bill to kick off the month, the night of Ralph Bakshi animation with "Coonskin" and "Hey Good Lookin'," as well as the first midnight feature of March Madness, "Shame of the Jungle." Sadly I missed Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's extravaganza "Grindhouse" and "Machete" double (triple) bill as well as "Man Friday" and "Cooley High" double on March 16th and 17th.
This is the third midnight feature of March Madness Quentin Tarantino has programmed. A 1970's romp I'd never seen starring Rock Hudson. A film that as the days grew closer the more and more intrigued I was to see it. Earlier on during March Madness, the odd-ball trailer screened to promote the evening as well as the titillating feature. It is a trailer that had myself as well as the crowd giggling at all of the sex but also scratching our heads because the sex was taking place between students and their high school teachers. Before I get completely engulfed in taking about the midnight feature I will quickly mention the trailer ahead of it. In promotion of Friday March 25th's midnight programming we saw the trailer to "Friday." The stoner comedy vehicle that put Chris Tucker on the map. Friday is a comedy that I've seen a million times and the trailer is a nice tease to all the hilarity that goes on in the 1995 film directed by F. Gary Gray.

"Pretty Maids All in a Row" starts off by taking the inner-sexual thought process of a man and projects it on to the big screen for all to see. We are introduced to Ponce (John David Carson), a high school teen who has never had sex but constantly thinks about it. Opening with a walk through the California campus from Ponce's point-of-view, we are lambasted with nubile women and fixated shots of their breasts, asses and crotches. For straight women this could be a bit over-bearing but it is extremely valid depiction of the teenage male mindset. It is also a perfect reminder that we are watching a midnight movie, something that generally appeals to titillating, thrilling and horrific events. 'Maids' is hardly all tits and ass though, it is actually a totally different film than that.

Before we get to what 'Maids' is actually about lets continue to talk about all of the glorious sex appeal it contains. The entire film is stuffed full with um, pretty maids. Absolutely dripping wet with luscious women. Never before have I seen a high school body with so many gorgeous and sensual women. Seriously, there is not one teen girl in the film that couldn't be a model or in the pages of Playboy. Its a film that you could hear moans and grunts from men within the audience as we're given seductive glances up a various girl's skirts or as one of the various vamps undresses. Director Roger Vadim made sure he personified all the women as nothing more than lustful objects to pine over. The film does objectify women as sex objects however once the film gets moving and the real plot is revealed the continual lewd acts slow down and begin to make sense. That said, regardless of whether woman may find the amount of sex appeal offensive it is a perfect representation of the teenage male mindset.

Rock Hudson never officially announced his homosexuality openly, although knowing his real-life sexual preferences made this movie something of a enigma.  His role in the film is that of a womanizer. So much so his nickname is even Tiger. In the California high school he is the assistant principle, counselor and the football coach. His counseling sessions however are where things get racy. Instead of counseling, he is having sex with the female student body of the high school. Watching as Hudson is put through more than 3 sex scenes leaves us wondering where his head was at. Obviously Hudson is an actor, so he is acting, but watching as he struggles through these scenes with desirable women is pretty hysterical in hindsight. A perfect example of this is a scene between Tiger and a substitute teacher Miss Betty Smith played by Angie Dickinson. Tiger is teaching Miss Smith that sexual acts can be experienced without feeling anything. The irony of this scene is legendary. Hudson is fondling the seductive Angie Dickinson explaining he has no feelings, when in actuality he doesn't. Man is instead craving the studly John David Carson or debonaire Telly Savalas.

As much as Rock Hudson is a dreamy hunk in Pretty Maids All in a Row he is a bad guy and not a character you are suppose like as Tiger. First, he's sleeping with underage women. A big no-no. Adults sleeping with teens is like a lioness hunting a baby antelope, they are defenseless. Adults have certain advantages over young  and naive minds, knowing all the right things to say. It is sick, twisted and our first sign we shouldn't trust coach Tiger. The next warning sign comes when we realize Tiger is a married man with a seductive wife waiting at home as well as a daughter. So not only is Tiger a pedophile, he is also adulterer. Yeah, he's dreamy but he's also has a sinister agenda underneath that bawdy exterior.

The opposite to Tiger's pre-planned devilish objectives is Angie Dickinson's character Miss Betty Smith. She is asked by Tiger to help a Ponce with his lack of sexuality. There is an innocence to Miss Smith in the film that is absent from Tiger. Tiger knows what he is asking Miss Smith to do. He is pulling the wool over her eyes. On one hand Tiger is helping out a student by setting up a sexual escape for him, but on the other hand he is tricking Miss Smith into doing something she may not be prepared for. This balance is quite remarkable and earnestly hilarious. Especially the scenes between Miss Smith and Ponce. They are awkward, carnal and laugh-out-loud hilarious.

Pretty Maids All in a Row is a remarkable feat. On the surface it appears as just a simple male fantasy. Hot women in overly suggestive clothing or no clothing standing around looking pretty, but there is a lot more going on. It is a on one side a honest depiction of a teen male and their sexual appetite. The other angle of the film I will continue to leave a mystery. Nothing that I can find in the form of trailers, promotional items or synopsis reveal a major plot point to the film, so I too will leave it untouched. Said portion of the film is a fresh surprise and ends up making any curiosity and turning it into appreciation of such a engaging twist that is not really a twist. Is that cryptic enough?

Lastly, I tripped out learning that the suggestive script is written by Gene Roddenberry. Yes, the guy who created Star Trek! 'Maids' was of course post-Star Trek, but regardless you can see Mr. Roddenberry's genius here. This film on the surface looks like nothing more than cheap thrills for sex-craved men, but there is really a whole lot more going on underneath and it deserves to be credited for its ability to mix sex appeal, psychology and mystery. Director Roger Vadim also deserves credit for his ability to mix sensuality and comedy in a coming of age story filled with a array of thrills utilized to tickle all of our senses.

Quentin Tarantino's March Madness continues throughout the rest of the month. Check the New Beverly's website for full details and times. Also stay tuned for more coverage of March Madness as I will be continuing to do write-up's on the rest of the events scheduled. You can also check out my previous coverage to March Madness with Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7.


Might I gloat that one of the pretty maids, June Fairchild (she of the cackling-in-Savalas'-face moment), is a close friend? :D