Monday, April 08, 2013

cinema obscura: James Salter's "Three" (1969)


Sam Waterston, tall and dark, and Robie Porter, blond and hunky, with dream girl Charlotte Rampling in James Salter's lost film, "Three" (1969)
It's a thankless exercise delving into material already perfected by another filmmaker.

Just ask Paul Mazursky who, perhaps foolheartedly, challenged himself with the langorous relationship among two men and a woman in "Willie and Phil" (1980), despite the looming presence of Francois Truffaut's sublime "Jules et Jim" (1962).

Mazursky wasn't the only one. In 1969, novelist James Salter directed "Three," his first - and only - film in which his 23-year-old ingénue Charlotte Rampling seductively drifts around hugely photogenic Mediterranean locations, distracting college buddies Sam Waterston and Robie Porter. The film follows them as they eat, drink, tour and flirt around the subject of sex.

It's about the simple of joy of just hanging out.

Salter, a name who still intrigues cinéphiles, wrote the stories on which Dick Powell's "The Hunters" (1958), Stacy Cochran's "Boys" (1995) and Sean Mewshaw's "Last Night" (2004) were based. He penned the screenplays for Sidney Lumet's "The Appointment" and Michael Ritchie's "Downhill Racer" (both 1969 releases) and Richard Pearce's "Threshold" (1981), and he collaborated on the script for Gregor Nicholas's "Broken English" (1996). And that's it. Often described as a "writer's writer," Salter went to school with Jack Kerouac.

Note in Passing: James Salter's difficult-to-see "Three" airs on Turner Classic Movies @ 10 (est) tomorrow morning - Tuesday, April 9th. Enjoy.

3 comments:

Jeff said...

Amen, Joe. I like the Lumet and Ritchie films that Salter wrote. Wish he had written more. Never knew about "Three," but it sounds like one of those titles just about impossible to see.

johnny said...

Charlotte Rampling is one of those actresses that just gets better looking with age.

Kent said...

Having read and enjoyed Salter, I can see him as a filmmaker. He has the aesthetic sensibility needed to direct films. This one sounds like an indie version of "Two for the Road."