Sleeve Story #2 – Claustrophobia amongst the fleshpots with 3 In The Attic…

As jury selection for the Harvey Weinstein rape trial begins this week in Manhattan (he is incidentally still a Citizen of the British Empire (CBE)), it’s hardly novel but it is timely to point out the dispiriting history of Hollywood from which the Miramax co-founder sprang from, specifically the flood of schlock made by US and UK studios that must have been as depressing and mind-numbing for actresses to appear in as it was for audiences to suffer them.

For every Some Like It Hot or Midnight Cowboy, there were hundreds of piss-poor B movies and X flicks made for the sole purposes of displaying flesh and soliciting dumbshow acting.

3 In The Attic, a sexploitation flick, is about a lothario – or slag as might be better known today – who is cheating on three women. These voluntary sex objects provide semi-nudity and titillation for hypocritical dads who scorn hippies… They exact their revenge by sexually humiliating their former sweetheart in a university attic. It’s hardly female empowerment, but rather par for the course.

The shamed shagger is played by Christopher Jones who plays support to his hippie signifier, a bead necklace, and to the three actresses whose washboard stomachs, shapely shoulder blades and bouffant hair took centre stage on screen and on the sleeve.

Judy Pace is black and at the back on the front of the cover. She was a frequently-seen guest star in US TV soaps and dramas (and whose daughter followed in her footsteps with her two-year run in The Young and the Restless and a small appearance in the Biggie Smalls biopic Notorious). C’est plus change.

Maggie Thrett on the left of the sleeve cover made the cracking single Soupy for esteemed poppy soul songwriter Bob Crewe and also dated Byrds-affiliate and smackhead songwriter Gram Parsons two years later in 1970. Her on-line biography is thin to say the least.

At the front on the right, someone who perhaps didn’t get a crack of the whip: Yvette Mimieux, celebrating her 78th birthday today. She regularly appeared in largely or wholly silent and supine roles – a mentally simple girl, an uncommunicative alien, a surfer on her deathbed for example – opposite the intellectual beefcakes that were Charlton Heston, Rod Taylor and Richard Chamberlain.

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Mimieux is credited with being the first person (i.e. woman) to show her navel on American TV but by the early 1970s she had voiced her unhappiness with the parts offered to her. “The women [male screenwriters] write are all one-dimensional,” she said. “They have no complexity in their lives. It’s all surface. There’s nothing to play. They’re either sex objects or vanilla pudding.”

She later wrote the screenplay for the 1974 TV film Hit Lady which attempted to go one step further than 3 in the Attic in depicting a female killer at work. If you wonder how successful Mimieux was at sticking to a man and then another, clips have been posted on YouTube by porkypricklypants and warriormale which perhaps show how that one worked out…

Back in 1968, The Beatles couldn’t supply every film soundtrack with memorable hits. Every beat group who each owned a shiny suit, possessed vaguely decent teeth and lived within a thirty-mile radius of the River Mersey has long been snapped up by record companies. What to do? Step forward Chad & Jeremy and their ‘Oxford Sound’ (albeit with one of them hailing from Windermere in the Lake District in north-west England. Their record company simply billed him as being from ‘outside of London’. Harumph).

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A slightly straightened Scaffold or a Righteous Brothers gone wrong, this English duo pumped out benign songs which didn’t scare the horses or the suburbs so they were  viewed no doubt as a safe pair of hands for the score. The Small Faces produced Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake and The KinksVillage Green Preservation Society that same year, putting their shared English foibles through a psychedelic mincer to great effect so Chad & Jeremy had to tap into similar vibes.

Their five songs offer the promise of a sample or two for beat-makers, but, largely, it’s all a bit meh… a more than fitting judgement given they were scoring an inter-racial sex comedy – and few four-word phrases have dated as badly as this one.

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A GRIM TALE: The back of the soundtrack sleeve promises viewers oodles of female nudity with Jones’ meat and two veg grumpily hidden to spare his shame.

 

As a post-Tarantino genre, blaxploitation films like Hell Up In Harlem and Superfly have largely been given a pass, though they were quick to shove the likes of Pam Grier in a bikini, so it says something that such two-a-penny films as 3 in the Attic have neither been critically re-discovered nor quietly sustained throughout the years as cult classics.

Given this occasional series is focused on vinyl sleeve covers, let’s look past the lamentable premise of a forgettable film as the artwork does have a certain kitsch appeal (even if little else does). There might not be room to swing a cat in that attic let alone harness a ’68 free love ethos to get it on; the atmosphere is stifling and not sexy; but the semi-transparent drapes and lampshades are to die for.

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