Pretty Models All In A Row (1969)

I’ve never been one of those guys who sits around the house in a sexy underwear-diaper. Until now.

You know what’s great about Pretty Models All In A Row? Star Ed Wood. He may be drunk. His big ass may be hanging out of a diaper. He may be (mostly) incoherent. But the man is clearly beaming. And why not? Throughout the 60 squalid minutes of Pretty Models, Ed is surrounded by an aquarium of flesh that he gets to rummage, lick, and kiss. Now, to you and me, the folks who actually have to watch that happen, this scenario is as sexy as my great Uncle Chet’s shoe horn. Probably less so. Because there is no way Uncle Chet’s shoe horn would cause me to fast forward through an orgy. Pretty Models does. And yet, unlike some of Ed’s other late-career prances through soft-and-hardcore misery (have you seen Fugitive Girls?), this film’s lingering aura is not one of hopeless despondency. It’s one of cartoon merriment. And that’s all thanks to resident dirty-old-man Edward D. Wood, Jr. and his healthy supply of drunken witticisms:

“Egads! What a milk factory!”

Photographer Ed is hanging out at his stately moaner. I mean, manner. After a flip through the yellow pages, a model arrives. He helps her undress. They roll around on a bed with red sheets. The doorbell rings. Ed gets frustrated by the interruption. Repeat a dozen times until the red bed is overflowing with nude people. At one point, Ed walks outside and drinks whiskey. Then, towards the end, a Cadillac full of ladies shows up. They put Ed in a dog chain and “force” him to dress in drag and lick a girl’s boots. Tout se fait!

To answer your main questions: 1. We do not see Ed Wood in his birthday suit, and 2. There is no explicit sex. There is moaning and laughing and one lesbian orgasm. There are also zits, bruises, dirty feet, weird teeth, cheap jazz, and plenty of doorbell rings. So it’s pretty much like real life, but with a troglodyte grasp on sexuality. Take H.G. Lewis and Dave Friedman’s The Adventures Of Lucky Pierre, subtract the creativity, add the full-frontal groping, and you’ve got Models. But is it watchable?

“I tell ya, the photography business isn’t what it used to be!”

This is Ed Wood’s show. The guy is going for it. He’s a joy to witness and often hilarious. Flailing, slurring, smiling, but ever the old-Hollywood sophisticate. When it comes down to it, that’s why you watch this movie. Regardless of Ed’s health and social standing in 1969, his performance in Models rarely inspires pity or disgust. Because this is showbiz Ed being showbiz Ed, and loving every second of it. He’s in the spotlight, entertaining a room full of people and displaying that obvious knack for quick wit, however lowbrow the results might be. Of course, Ed’s entire paycheck for Models may have gone straight to the bottle. But who cares? His eyes tell us that he was having a ball making this film, as if it were one last gasp at cinematic joy before fully succumbing to demons. Given the circumstances, much can be gleaned from such a display of unconditional self-ownership.

I watched Pretty Models All In A Row once, and I may not watch it again. But that doesn’t diminish the fact that I was thoroughly entertained in a thoroughly un-sexy way by an odd cloister of awful puns, naked writhing, and Ed Wood’s sincere and infectious blather. This film cannot be casually recommended anymore than Andy Milligan’s Fleshpot On 42nd Street can. Or even Chaplin’s Limelight. But I know how I feel. Chances are, so do you.

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