The 3 Threes: Movies about Men and Women

This summer I saw three movies that depicted “threesomes” — not of the menage a trois variety, instead there were situations that reflected in my mind much of the “era” and time each of these movies were made.

     “Two-Lane Blacktop” (1971)

DIrected by Wim Wenders, this film stars James Taylor (the musician) as the driver and Dennis Wilson (of Beach Boys fame) as the mechanic.  This movie has developed, I’m told, something of a cult following.  The female character is a young hippie played by actress, Laurie Bird who gravitates first toward one of the guys and then the other.  The film doesn’t have a lot of dialogue and the main concern of the males is to drive their souped up 1955 Chevy across the U.S., making money by drag racing along the way.  The woman was in some ways secondary to the men’s purpose and concern with the car, however she does manage to have an impact nevertheless.

     “Cutter’s Way” (1981)

A drama with memorable acting, this film is the story of a physically and psychologically damaged Vietnam vet played by actor, John Heard, his wife, actress Lisa Eichorn and his best friend, Jeff Bridges.  The plot concerns what happens when Jeff Bridges finds a dead woman stuffed in an alley garbage bin and is able to identify the culprit who put her there.  When he tells his best friend and his best friend’s wife about what he saw, the friend (John Heard) gets caught up in trying to catch the murderer.  All of these characters are flawed in one way or another — John Heard is a bitter hard drinking man; Lisa Eichorn is his caring yet disillusioned and cynical wife who finds refuge in drinking as much as her husband does.   Jeff Bridges is something of a ladies man who is loyal to his best friend yet yearns for his best friend’s wife’s affections.  What redeems these three people is that they care about one another deeply — their friendships are longstanding and complex.  What eventually occurs in the movie is unsettling and sad.  In many ways this film depicts the heaviness of the post Vietnam War years of the mid-to-late 1970s.

    “Savages” (2012)

In Oliver Stone’s most recent film there are two best friends, Ben and Chon, and their shared girlfriend, Ophelia (referred to as “O”).  Business partners (they grow and sell pot) as well as friends, these two young men are as different as night and day.  It is their differences that balance them, however, and also partly why O is able to love both of them.  When O is kidnapped by the Mexican drug cartel who are looking to take over Ben and Chon’s pot business, there is no question that these men are going to try and bring her home safely.  The dynamic between these three characters stems from the openess of their relationships that in turn seems to foster free flowing communication among them.  How they eventually work through their harrowing ordeal with the drug cartel as well as the interaction among themselves forms the ending of the film.  This current day movie is both a romanticized depiction of a freer lifestyle and a reflection of the dangers of doing business in what continues to be illegal, the growing and selling of marijuana.

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