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Argent Towers
02-27-2009, 12:23 AM
Has anyone here seen the film Pretty Maids All in a Row (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067610/)? It was made in 1971 and it had an all star cast. Rock Hudson, Telly Savalas, Angie Dickinson, James Doohan, and John David Carson as the bewildered young man at the center of it all.

It is one of the most bizarre, and delightful, films I've ever seen. It's about a high school where beautiful female students are turning up dead - and meanwhile, the guidance counselor, Tiger McDrew (played by Rock Hudson) is serially seducing and sleeping with student after student. Such a thing would never play in a film today, but I guess for the time, it was acceptable. And in the midst of all this is a young man, bizarrely named "Ponce de Leon" (Carson), who Rock Hudson convinces Angie Dickinson's character to sleep with. This plot sounds incoherent but in the movie, it actually comes together pretty well.

The women are absolutely gorgeous. Great late-60s/early 70s styles with very long hair, short skirts, etc. And man, is that Rock Hudson a show-stealer! Even with some extra pounds and a very cheesy mustache, he manages to bring more charisma to the screen than nearly any actor I can think of today.

The young John David Carson did not have much of a leading man career afterwards - although he did appear on some soap operas and "Charlie's Angels," and he appeared in the obscure Arnold Schwarzenegger/Jeff Bridges/Sally Field flick "Stay Hungry." His last film role was in "Pretty Woman" in 1990. According to IMDB he set his hotel room on fire in 1994 when he passed out drunk with a lit cigarette. Funny how some people just vanish into the ether.

Has anyone else seen this great comedy?

Zebra
02-27-2009, 12:33 AM
I saw this once on late night cable in the mid 80's.

IIRC Gene Roddeberry was the producer, hence James D. getting some work.

Greg Charles
02-28-2009, 02:01 AM
It was filmed at my high school, University High in West Los Angeles, though long before my time there. Was it a comedy? I only made it through about half an hour, but I had it pegged at as a porno.

outlierrn
02-28-2009, 02:33 AM
Yeah, I've seen it, though it's been awhile




Was it a comedy? I only made it through about half an hour, but I had it pegged at as a porno


what's the difference?

Starving Artist
02-28-2009, 03:20 AM
I saw it when it came out. Nobody at the time thought anything about him seducing and sleeping with all those students. It was only a movie and not taken seriously. My impression of it was the same as the OP's: a delightful flick that was fun to watch.

FYI, I saw an interview with Angie Dickinson around the time of Hudson's death or shortly after and she commented on working with him in this flick and said that when it came to love scenes he really knew how to turn it on. She seemed to be getting a slight case of the vapors just thinking about it. :D

ETA: I really liked McMillan & Wife too. It started at about the same time as Pretty Maids and his look the first few years was much the same. The chemistry between Hudson and Susan St. James was fun to watch (as was his chemistry with John Schuck and Nancy Walker, come to think of it. The guy was just all around good I guess). I think some of the episodes are available on DVD if you're interested.

CalMeacham
02-28-2009, 10:48 AM
They showed it on our campus in the mid-1970s, with advertising lines about Gene Roddenery being a "dirty old man" -- so, yeah, the content was pretty questionable even then. I don't think it was taken as generally accepted behavior.

Starving Artist
02-28-2009, 11:03 AM
I didn't mean it was "accepted", only that it wasn't taken seriously as a comment on the propriety of teacher/student relations.

Hail Ants
02-28-2009, 01:20 PM
Saw that movie on HBO several times, must have been late 70s. It was a dark comedy/murder mystery. And, for the late 70s, it was spank-o-licious! :D

Khadaji
02-28-2009, 02:03 PM
I too saw it on HBO and remember it as one of the first films where I saw naked women. Alas, I don't remember much more than that. Maybe I'll rent it for nostalgia.

Evil Captor
02-28-2009, 02:42 PM
I think it's been on some premium cable channel in the last year or so. I watched it several years ago and just thought it was fluff.

cbawlmer
02-28-2009, 09:38 PM
I really enjoyed that movie. I saw it at a film festival a few years back, then DVR'ed it from TCM (and burned it to a DVD) in the middle of the night sometime later. People would be up in arms if you made that movie now, but I kind of wish they would. I mean, it's not supposed to be a serious drama or a how-to.

Argent Towers
03-01-2009, 05:34 PM
Wow, thanks for the responses! I had no idea that anyone else had even known about this movie.

I wrote to John David Carson about a week ago about this film, I will let you know if I hear back from him.

oliversarmy
03-01-2009, 11:58 PM
I've seen it several times. It has its moments. Definitely a movie of its time.

Argent Towers
03-04-2009, 06:45 PM
Well, here is an update for those who might be interested. I tried to contact John David Carson, with the intent to interview him for an article I wanted to write about this movie. I was able to get in touch with his ex-girlfriend, who lives in Las Vegas. According to her, the last she heard, John David Carson was homeless and living on the street. She said he had a terrible gambling problem and had lost all of his money, and was also 86ed from many of the hotels and casinos in Las Vegas. She also said that his agent died and left him some money, which he was trying to use to get a screenplay that he had written about his own life published. Apparently he was close with Rock Hudson and with George C. Scott, who he appeared in "The Savage is Loose" and "Day of the Dolphin" with. Scott had tried to help along Carson's career but I guess the man's own personal problems got the best of him.

I was stunned to learn of his current situation. Quite a sad case. It's a reminder that for every actor that becomes huge, there are more who went nowhere, and some who wound up with nothing.

Starving Artist
03-04-2009, 07:07 PM
Wow! That's too bad. Sorry to hear it.

But thanks for the update.

Argent Towers
03-04-2009, 07:46 PM
You know what the hell of it is? I've been watching some other old movies and shows from the 70s with John David Carson - "Empire of the Ants," an episode of "Fall Guy" with Lee Majors - and in a lot of his roles, he seemed to play the exact kind of guy that he apparently wound up as - a down on his luck gambler/alcoholic/general loser who can't catch a break in life. I wonder if he deliberately sought out these kind of roles, or whether it was just an uncanny coincidence?

Argent Towers
03-05-2009, 01:30 PM
Update: I was told that J.D. Carson had worked as a janitor at the Stratosphere Hotel in Las Vegas, but this information is over 10 years old. I called the Stratosphere but they were unable to release any information about employees. I highly doubt he was able to keep a steady job there, anyway, given what I've heard. I also saw one post (one of only three) on his IMDB forum which said he had been, as of last year, staying at a weekly hotel called the St. Louis Manor on Paradise Road in Las Vegas. I called them, too, but they also said they were unable to provide any information about their guests and they could not even tell me whether or not he was, in fact, living there.

I was going to write a review/article about Pretty Maids All in a Row, and was hoping to get in touch with Carson for a short interview/Q&A section as part of the review, but now I think I'm more inclined to write the article about Carson himself. I think it's a very sad story and it's one that I think people ought to know about, since Hollywood is so glamorized and put on a pedestal that it's easy to forget that for every actor that makes it big, there are others who struggle for years and wind up destitute. It reminds me of the case of Bobby Driscoll, who starred in Disney's Treasure island and was later found dead of a drug overdose in an abandoned building.

Even guys like Robert Downey Jr, Nick Nolte and Mickey Rourke, who have all hit bottom at some point, are celebrated when they wind up making a comeback, and because they're huge stars to begin with - so their problems are almost glamorized, in a roundabout way. But in the case of an obscure cult actor who never had much success to begin with, the story is much more troubling. There's no comeback, and no happy ending. I think these are the stories that more people should know about.

Starving Artist
03-05-2009, 01:41 PM
Any chance you could do both, either together or at separate time?

Encinitas
03-05-2009, 03:38 PM
Argent Towers, just an idea, why don't you try writing directly to Carson c/o the St. Louis Manor? If he is there, the management will likely just hand over your letter to him. Include a SASE so that he can respond without incurring any expense. I bet he still lives in Vegas and someone will know how to contact him.

Argent Towers
03-05-2009, 04:44 PM
I think that is what I'm going to do. I asked the St. Louis Manor office (who still, annoyingly, refused to tell me whether or not Carson was even staying there) if, in fact he WAS staying there, I could send a letter to him at the hotel's address and they would deliver it to him. They said that they would - so that seems to be my only option.

What IS a "weekly hotel" anyway? Is it somewhere in between a hotel and an apartment? If he is in fact staying there, at least he's not homeless, which is a good thing. And yeah I will include a SASE.

oliversarmy
03-05-2009, 05:17 PM
I don't know anything about John David Carson, but I certainly remember this movie. It is very unusual and very interesting from a '70s "how did they come up with this?" sense.

I also saw "Stay Hungry," another "different" film from that era. Interesting insights into the body-building culture and good performances by Field, Bridges and the governor.

I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who remembers this stuff.

Argent Towers
03-05-2009, 05:25 PM
I LOVE Stay Hungry. That might be my favorite movie of all time. A brilliant, ingenious, quirky, heartwarming comedy that is wonderful in every way. I also read the original novel by Charles Gaines - GREAT book.

John David Carson is in Stay Hungry - he plays a character called "Halsey" who torments Arnold Schwarzenegger's kind-hearted bodybuilder/fiddler. He can be seen in this brief clip (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBawYEfglow) (on Youtube) of Arnold playing the fiddle (and he is actually playing, for real) in that movie. Carson is the obnoxious guy in the tuxedo who yells "Let's hear it for MUSCLE BEACH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA!" The other tuxedoed troublemaker, in the blue jacket, is Mayf Nutter, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBawYEfglow) a well-regarded country singer.

(Hilarious line in that clip too - "Let's give him a standing ovulation!"

oliversarmy
03-05-2009, 05:39 PM
Argent Towers said:

What IS a "weekly hotel" anyway? Is it somewhere in between a hotel and an apartment? If he is in fact staying there, at least he's not homeless, which is a good thing. And yeah I will include a SASE.

I think it's what used to be known as "flop house," where people of limited resources can stay at a low, weekly rate. They're usually old hotels. They have no amenities -- no private bathrooms, you have to pay for towels, etc.

Also, since you seem to like these types of quirky '70s movies, did you ever see "Rancho Deluxe" with Bridges, Sam Waterston and a special guest appearance by Jimmy Buffett?

Or "They Only Kill Their Masters" with James Garner and "Isn't it Shocking" with Alan Alda?

gonzomax
03-05-2009, 08:12 PM
I didn't mean it was "accepted", only that it wasn't taken seriously as a comment on the propriety of teacher/student relations.

Well it was directed by Roger Vadim. I saw it when it came out. I have seen it once since. It is not my kind of movie except for lots of pretty women.

Evil Captor
03-05-2009, 08:33 PM
Even guys like Robert Downey Jr, Nick Nolte and Mickey Rourke, who have all hit bottom at some point, are celebrated when they wind up making a comeback, and because they're huge stars to begin with - so their problems are almost glamorized, in a roundabout way. But in the case of an obscure cult actor who never had much success to begin with, the story is much more troubling. There's no comeback, and no happy ending. I think these are the stories that more people should know about.

To tell you the truth, when I run across stories like this, I think, "Well, a lot of people who AREN'T in Hollywood have ruined their lives via drugs/gambling/etc. or had their lives ruined by mental or physical illness. What makes people from Hollywood so different?

Argent Towers
03-05-2009, 11:42 PM
Nothing, I guess...in this particular case it's just that Carson, in Pretty Maids All in a Row, was such an epitome of youthful innocence, that it's a little shocking (to someone who's a big fan of that movie and has seen it many times) to find out what ultimately happened to him.

Rock Hudson, for that matter, has so many scenes that in hindsight appear to be blatant homoerotic innuendoes in that movie, it's almost impossible to ignore. At one point, he raises a glass filled with a milky-white, thick, creamy concoction made from "apples, milk, honey and brewer's yeast" to his lips, and the camera lingers on his face in close-up as he drinks the whole glass down.

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