Three in The Attic - Plot Summary

Plot Summary

Paxton Quigley (Christopher Jones), a renowned womanizer, is a student at the fictional Willard College for Men, located one mile away from the fictional Fulton College for women. The schools are located in small college communities in the middle of Vermont.

After meeting at a Zeta Chi (ZX) fraternity party, Paxton and a Fulton undergrad, Tobey Clinton (Yvette Mimieux), begin dating. They then take their relationship to the next level by spending the summer together by the beach in Providencetown.

Paxton and Tobey are then caught living together by Tobey’s parents at their family house in Providencetown. Following a fight between Tobey and her mother, the two separate for the rest of the last two weeks of summer break. Tobey, by now deeply in love, is ecstatic to be with Paxton upon their return to school.

While out on his motorcycle, Paxton has a chance encounter with a young artist in need of a ride, their meeting is quite sexually charged. The young artist, Eulice (Judy Pace), another Fulton student, entreats Paxton to let her paint him naked. When she is finished, Paxton learns that she only wanted to paint his face, but got him naked for fun. She promises to get nude for Paxton as compensation. After a meal, they retire to a motel that Paxton frequents with his many different conquests.

Following his initial escapade with Eulice, Paxton brags to his fraternity brothers that he feels no remorse.

While they are on a trip to a cabin, Tobey asks Paxton to move out of his fraternity house and move into an apartment with her. Paxton overreacts; Tobey explains that her father bet her that if she rented an apartment for the two of them Paxton would get cold feet and end the relationship. A bitter fight ensues but they soon make up.

Paxton receives a phone call from Eucile at his fraternity house, and is goaded into seeing her again. While racing over to Eulice’s residence Paxton trips and happens upon a hippie-girl, Jan (Maggie Thrett), who is making a flower-collage in the woods. They strike a conversation, and soon after Paxton takes Jan to his favorite motel. The two eat some of Jan’s “magic-brownies” and then Jan uses body paint to cover Paxton’s back in flowers. As soon as Paxton makes a move, Jan runs for the door. Paxton aggressively attacks her, and then stops and feigns to be homosexual who was abused by a junior high school coach. This exploitative trickery wins her sympathy and they soon become intimate.

Again, Paxton brags about his exploits back at his fraternity house. One of his brothers gives him the idea of dating all three girls at the same time. They scheme over some beers, and come up with an elaborate plan for Paxton to trick all three girls into thinking he is seeing each one exclusively.

While at a movie which Paxton is watching with Tobey, he is almost discovered by both Eulice and Jan, who spot him from the front; he barely escapes detection. Paxton returns to the Zeta Chi house and walks into a party where brothers are taking advantage of a drunken co-ed. Paxton, hit with a sudden sense of guilt, tries to protect the girl from the brothers’ jeers.

Paxton, filled with his new-found conscience, rents an apartment for himself and Tobey and goes to her dorm building to surprise her with his new level of commitment. Tobey, obviously very distraught, tells Paxton to follow her into her attic where she reveals that she, Eulice, and Jan have discovered Paxton’s secret infidelity. Tobey caught him after seeing Eulice’s painting of Paxton at an art show and tracking down the artist. The three then lock Paxton in the attic and plan to continue sleeping with him constantly to physically wear him out as a punishment. Paxton rebels by going on a hunger strike.

After noticing his drop in class attendance, the dean of Willard College sends out a description of Paxton to neighboring colleges, labeling him as a missing student. A nosy dorm mate of Tobey’s notices the actions of Paxton’s captors and reports them to the assistant dean of Fulton. Meanwhile, Paxton is being worn to physical extremes from a combination nearly two week’s malnutrition and being unable to resist the relentless advances of Tobey, Eulice, and Jan. The assistant dean of Fulton, Dean Nazarin (Nan Martin), connects information listed in a missing person’s report and information from a nosy student. She then concludes that Paxton is being held in the attic of Fulton’s Ford Hall, Tobey’s residence. Tobey meets with Dean Nazarin and explains the situation. Although unable to officially condone the actions of the young women, the dean offers a chance for Tobey to carry out Paxton’s “punishment” while turning a blind eye.

Meanwhile, Paxton has vivid hallucinations where he accuses his three captors and fantasizes that they are unanimously hated by all of Fulton College while he is shown love and comfort. Failing to make Paxton explain his actions, Tobey finally consents to release him from the attic and, disoriented, he stumbles into an unsuspecting female dorm. He is attacked by the female residents as an intruder and knocked unconscious. An ambulance soon takes him away. Thanks to intervention from Dean Nazarin, the three girls get out of the scandal without punishment.

With the help of Eulice, Paxton is then able to chase down Tobey before she leaves town on a bus, and reconciles with her after a desperate display of love.

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