Directed by Clint Eastwood
Written by Jo Heims
Produced by Robert Daley
Folded into a 1973 seat cushion between High Plains Drifter (which he starred in and directed) and Magnum Force (which he reprised his role as Dirty Harry to stellar box office returns) is a slightly crumpled but remarkable sketch Clint Eastwood directed William Holden and up and comer Kay Lenz in titled Breezy. A ‘70s kind of love story written by one of Eastwood’s friends — screenwriter Jo Heims — and produced by a pal in Robert Daley, this vintage curio is further off the aisle than any film Eastwood involved himself in once he started directing. Striking a modest tone and devoting itself entirely to the male-female dynamic of its time, Breezy skillfully avoids feeling stuck in time by planting its characters downtown and relegating political diatribe to the outskirts.
Clint Eastwood himself can be spotted twice in Breezy, once in an Alfred Hitchcock styled cameo and again on a poster for High Plains Drifter. Those are the most obvious signs that he hadn’t found a comfort zone as a director yet. The atmosphere seems inert — Heims wrote Play Misty For Me to take place in L.A. and it’s a wonder Eastwood stuck with her floor plan instead of shooting this somewhere like Monterey — while Holden & Lenz, both give sensitive performances, but seem to be acting in the movie by themselves. But the screenplay is acute when it comes to the insecurities a man in his 50s might experience shacking up with a flower child. The dialogue, music and Frank Stanley’s camerawork all attain a timeless quality and the movie comments intelligently on its day without feeling like a relic of its day.
In the beatnik Los Angeles enclave of Laurel Canyon, a 19-year-old named “Breezy” (Kay Lenz) wakes up next to a guy she bedded down with in exchange for a place to sleep. Grabbing her guitar, Breezy thumbs a ride to the Valley, but has to hop out in the Hollywood Hills when the driver turns out to be a creep. She ends up in the driveway of Frank Harmon (William Holden), a real estate broker impatiently putting his date (Lynn Borden) from last night into a cab. Frank sizes Breezy up and refuses to be put on a hook for anything but a ride down the hill. Visiting his lover Betty (Marj Dusay) on his lunch break, Frank is surprised by the news that she’s getting married. That night, the divorcee is paid a visit by Breezy, who has returned for her guitar. Frank offers her a meal and a shower before urging her to leave.
Picked up by the police and delivered to Frank’s doorstep under the pretenses of being his niece, Edith Alice Breezerman is invited to stay this time. Revealing that she’s been in L.A. for three months without seeing the ocean, she pleads with Frank to take her to see the Pacific at 4:30 in the morning. The girl’s innocence and passion begins to bring some color back into the life of the withdrawn older man. They become lovers. Frank is convinced that a long term relationship with the much younger woman has little future, that his friends and society at large probably view their coupling as a “dirty little joke”. He sends Breezy back to the anonymity he found her, but changes in his life make Frank regret his decision.
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