REVIEW WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
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“The Third Floor Movie Mystery” by North Wales resident Daniel McTeigue is a curious book.
He sets you up for what initially sounds like a revealing and thoroughly researched study of how often a third floor of a building is referenced in movies, only to shove it to the back burner to simmer for a very long time to tell you his life story — the “back story,” as he puts it.
McTeigue’s life story is worth telling, for sure. A North Penn High School graduate, he throws in a couple of story gems — although some ramble off track — that are a window into growing up in this area in the 1970s, and coming of age in the 1980s. For example, there’s a mention of going to the former movie theater in Lansdale, and playing pickup hockey at the old Melody Brook ice skating rink in Colmar (There’s even a mention of the Peggy Fleming picture that used to hang on a wall there).
Who remembers the mid-’70s back-to-back Bux-Mont League track championships won by Penndale Junior High? Or that one wild mud celebration by Penndale’s soccer team and cheerleaders after a dramatic victory? Or when North Penn’s ice hockey team played their games outdoors at White’s Road Park? McTeigue played on all of those teams. There’s much detail about falling in love with the music now regarded as classic rock. The first band he was in was Lansdale’s On the Rocks, which featured Echolyn’s Brett Kull. For some reason, the author spells his name “Brit Kole.” Eventually McTeigue drummed for the local band Third Floor — named for their third floor “studea” rehearsal space in Bridgeport — in the late ‘80s. Among the venues they played, according to the book, were the VFW in Lansdale, the former Ambler Cabaret and Philadelphia’s now-defunct J.C. Dobbs/Legendary Dobbs.
Knee-deep in the memoir section of the book, he writes: “You may be wondering what does this drumming stuff have to do with the ‘Third Floor Movie Mystery.’” It’s chapter nine till we get back to McTeigue’s mysterious Hollywood “third floor” conspiracy.
It should be noted that it was after the breakup of Third Floor that he began obsessively watching movies at home, and even started noticing third floor references on TV. He breaks down all the third floors in “Aliens,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Home Alone,” “Elysium,” “Admission,” “Monsters University,” “R.I.P.D,” the 2013 re-make of “The Great Gatsby,” McTeigue’s personal all-time favorite — the 1987 Mickey Rourke/Faye Dunaway film “Barfly” and more than 100 others.
Leaving it open to interpretation, he sort-of concludes that maybe it has to do with a universal mystical significance of the number three.
With McTeigue’s conversational writer’s voice; youthful, blue-collar hyperbole and hubris; and rough-around-the-edges spelling and grammar, the autobiographical portion of “Third Floor Movie Mystery” would work better — believe it or not — as a separate audio book.
Speaking of audio, you’ll miss a lot of the story if you don’t check out recordings of the songs McTeigue’s various bands did at www.thirdfloormm.com.
The book is available through www.authorhouse.com.