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Cult Movie Essentials: Three Men and a Baby

Three Men and a Baby is a 1987 comedy film starring Tom Selleck, Steve Guttenberg, Ted Danson, and Nancy Travis, and directed by Leonard Nimoy. That’s right Leonard Nimoy.  It follows the mishaps and adventures of three bachelors as they attempt to adapt their lives to pseudo-fatherhood with the arrival of one of the men’s love child.

The script was based on the 1985 French film Trois hommes et un couffin (Three Men and a Cradle) and is perhaps the hairiest film of the Eighties’. There is more chest hair on show in this movie than in the entirety of all 8 Planet of the Apes movies.

Filmed when Tom Selleck and Ted Danson were on annual hiatus from their incredibly successful TV shows, Magnum P.I. and Cheers, with Steve Guttenberg who had just filmed the appalling Police Academy 4: Citizens On Patrol. The film entered the world of urban myths with a supposed ghost sighting just over an hour into the film. In this scene Ted Danson and his mother walk through the house with the baby. As they do so, they pass a background window on the left-hand side of the screen, and a black outline that appears to resemble a rifle pointed downward can be seen behind the curtains. As the characters walk back past the window 40 seconds later, a human figure can be seen in that window.

The persistent rumour began circulating shortly before the film’s sequel, Three Men and a Little Lady, that this was the ghost of a boy who had been killed in the house where the movie was filmed. The reality is much more chilling, the figure is actually a cardboard cut-out of Ted Danson wearing a tuxedo and top hat that was left on the set. This prop was created as part of a storyline, in which Ted appears in a dog food commercial, but this portion of the story was cut from the final version of the film.

Although I’ve never been a fan of Steve Gutenberg who seems to believe that acting is merely the art of TALKING REALLY LOUDLY, you can’t fault Danson and Selleck. Ted Danson’s comic timing is great and Tom Selleck’s warmth comes across as genuine. The scenes where he’s interacting with the baby are when the movie is at its most watchable. Yes the storyline is little more than a device to let the stars ‘do their thing’ but when ‘their thing’ is as entertaining as this then it’s easy to forgive. A feel good guilty pleasure, that still ‘lives long’ in the memory.

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Stephen Pryde-Jarman is a Cult TV and Film journalist, award winning short story writer, playwright and screenwriter. A natural hoarder, second hand shopping fulfils his basic human need for hunter-gathering; but rummaging through a charity shop’s bric-a-brac shelf also brought him the inspiration for his novel Rubble Girl having seen a picture of a Blitz survivor sat amongst the rubble of her house with a cup and saucer. Rubble Girl has been described as " thought-provoking" and "fast paced ... with plenty of twists and turns." Amazon.

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