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  Three in the Attic They Love Him To Death
Year: 1968
Director: Richard Wilson
Stars: Christopher Jones, Yvette Mimieux, Judy Pace, Maggie Thrett, Nan Martin, Reva Rose, John Beck, Richard Derr, Eve McVeagh, Honey Alden, Tom Ahearne, Elizabeth Tanner
Genre: Comedy, Drama, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Paxton Quigley (Christopher Jones) is a self-confessed womaniser, and when he was at college as a student he was admired by his fellow, male students for his success with the opposite sex, but there comes a time in a young man's life when he must think of the future and find someone he wishes to settle down with. He found the young woman who seemed to be ideal after a chance meeting at a bar; it was not an initially promising encounter, as he walked in on Tobey Clinton (Yvette Mimieux) who was sipping a drink alone and she caught him admiring her bottom, leading to a terse exchange for she was unimpressed. But then she turned right around when Paxton quoted Kierkegaard at her - was this the beginning of something?

It was certainly the beginning of something decidedly strange, an apparent comedy that wasn't very funny, but did have a take on the battle of the sexes which culminated in the film's main selling point: its lead lothario taught a lesson once and for all by being trapped in an attic by his three girlfriends who proceed to wear him down with sex until he is heading for his own enervated demise. Don't go thinking that was a spoiler, for the introduction informs us of this, presuming we would be getting impatient if we didn't know where all this was heading, which would not have been the case when Three in the Attic was released as that premise was plastered all over the advertising to lure the punters in.

The sexual revolution threw up some very unusual reactions as far as pop culture went as the seismic rocking of society's foundations caused by the apparently outrageous suggestion that women should be treated on equal terms with men left many creators of movies, television, music and so on uncertain of where they stood now. Not that it really stopped the dodgy opinions in their tracks, and with more and more possible of what you could show on a cinema screen as the sixties moved into the seventies illustrated that mixture of confusion and hedonism (along with political points to be made, should you pay attention to that). Go back to the start of this upheaval, and you would uncover movies like this, still coy about showing too much yet conjuring up some daring scenarios.

Christopher Jones was an actor who established a cult following as the possible next James Dean, something he perhaps took a little too much to heart, but by 1970 he was burnt out and a wreck, never making another film (aside from a slight return for one role in the nineties), finding more solace in his painting. As is the case with stars who shine briefly bright rather than fade away, Jones was the source of much speculation as to what was going through his mind, and watching him now he looks less like a Dean wannabe and more a prototype for James Franco, same delivery, same demeanour, same looks, same public eccentricities. For Jones, the final straw was a combination of the intense workload and losing his good friend Sharon Tate to the Manson Family massacre.

This has left what appearances he did make with more scrutiny than some of his contemporaries, and watching him in Three in the Attic, whatever you thought about his straining to succeed as a serious actor, he's not quite as accomplished as you think he might have wished to be, yet had a charisma that you could understand why these three very different women would be attracted to him. As well as Mimieux's Tobey, the partner he would settle down with should he have been sensible, there's famed beauty of her day Judy Pace as artist Eulice, marking a then-mildly controversial interracial relationship which would have been nicer if Eulice didn't speak in what sounds like is on the verge of outright, stereotypical jive, plus the "whatever happened to?" Maggie Thrett, a hippie chick who has a habit of painting flowers on bare skin. When this trio find out about each other, it's as if the screenplay was demonstrating how what sounds like wish fulfilment can be akin to a horror story if taken to its illogical conclusion: a conclusion even more troubling. Music by Chad and Jeremy (another sixties flash in the pan).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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