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Shacking Up With a Flower Child

May 14th, 2010 · 4 Comments

Breezy 1973 poster A Breezy 1973 poster B

Breezy (1973)
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Written by Jo Heims
Produced by Robert Daley
108 minutes

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.

31 Days of Eastwood

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.

Breezy 1973 Kay Lenz

Breezy 1973 William Holden Lynn Borden

Breezy 1973 Kay Lenz William Holden

Breezy 1973 William Holden

Breezy 1973 Kay Lenz

Breezy 1973 William Holden

Breezy 1973 Jamie Smith Jackson Kay Lenz

Breezy 1973 Kay Lenz William Holden

Breezy 1973 William Holden

Breezy 1973 Kay Lenz

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Metacritic “Metascore” among leading critics says: Not available

What do you say?

Tags: Midlife crisis · Unconventional romance

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Moviezzz // May 14, 2010 at 9:12 am

    This has been one of his most underrated films. It was also one of his hardest to find until the DVD release.

    And by the way, great series!

  • 2 Joe Valdez // May 14, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Jim: I’m so glad you’re digging the series. As for Breezy, I wouldn’t say it’s a great film, but it is great that Eastwood got it made. I don’t know if it’s a testament to how popular he was as a star or simply a credit to how eager he was to grow as a filmmaker that early in his career, but I wish more directors would experiment this boldly.

  • 3 Walter Ty // Oct 24, 2012 at 3:08 am

    I like this film immensely. Pity it was underrated at the time of its 1974 release. William Holden & Kay Lenz are really convincing as the characters having a brief affair, & Holden, in his mid-50’s, was still capable of pulling off this degree of sex appeal coupled with his rugged handsome profile.

  • 4 bc mac // Oct 18, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Just caught film and it is me.Frank and Breezy have many years together! I met my 19 yr old Kathy when I was turning 40 in 1986. most people thought she was my daughter. we gotta lotta ribbing about that. after quite a bit of adjustments we finally made it. still going strong . we travel a lot now

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