It is difficult to decide what is more exhausting about this television film based on the strange-but-true story of physician/medical researcher Norman Grayson (Beau Bridges): Following his suicidal efforts to juggle three simultaneous marriages, or trying to connect the dots of the film’s porous plotline. Despite Bridges’ magnetically appealing performance, “The Man With Three Wives” never comes close to addressing the compulsion that drives him to pursue 10 years of conjugal self-destruction.
Grayson is loved by all: Wife Lillian (Kathleen Lloyd), three wholesome children, associates, patients and his mistress, Robyn (Pam Dawber). But after years of simmering on the back burner of Norman’s life, Robyn flees to another town.
To satisfy his insatiable need to be needed, Grayson begins an affair with beautiful career woman Katy (Joanna Kerns). When Katy issues the leave-your-wife-and-marry-me-or-else ultimatum, Grayson embarks on his life of bigamy.
Meanwhile, Robyn has been in and out of a marriage and has a daughter to prove it. Robyn and Norman begin a long-distance affair that culminates in wedding bells for Grayson for a third time. When told on his third wedding day that he is a lucky man, Norman declares, “I make my own luck.”
Unfortunately, Norman’s luck runs out when the demands of connubial bliss to the third power drain not only his time and finances, but his health as well. Shortly after Robyn discovers his triplicity and annuls their marriage, Norman suffers a massive heart attack.
Scriptor Deborah Serra and director Peter Levin race by the peaks and valleys of Grayson’s journey of self-destruction but the vitally important logistics of how the good doctor managed to keep his charade viable over the years is left to the viewers’ imagination.
Bridges approaches every aspect of Grayson’s warped personality with commitment. It is easy to believe that this man actually thinks he’s acting in the best interests of those he loves. Madge Sinclair and Michael Flynn offer support as Grayson’s suspicious but loyal colleagues.