BREEZY (director: Clint Eastwood; screenwriter: Jo Heims; cinematographer: Frank Stanley; editor: Ferris Webster; music: Michel Legrand; cast: William Holden (Frank Harmon), Kay Lenz (Breezy), Roger C Carmel (Bob Henderson), Marj Dusay (Betty Tobin), Joan Hotchkis (Paula Harmon), Jamie Smith Jackson (Marcy), Norman Bartold (Man in Car), Dennis Olivieri (Bruno), Lynn Borden (Harmon’s Overnight Date), Shelley Morrison (Nancy Henderson), Eugene Peterson (Charlie); Runtime: 108; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Robert Daley; Universal; 1973)
“It plays out as a sappy meeting between representatives of the Counterculture and Establishment.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Clint Eastwood (“Play Misty For Me”/”High Plains Drifter”/”Pale Rider”) directs, in his third directorial effort (now directing over two dozen films), this preposterous personal film; it’s a May – December romance story between a jaded and dour middle-aged square, Frank Harmon (William Holden), and a free-spirited kooky hippie teenager with a good-heart named Breezy (Kay Lenz) who is living on the poverty line for the last three months after graduating high school. Breezy is adjusting to life as an orphan by being into free love, as we soon learn that her folks died in a traffic accident a few years ago and she was raised by her aunt back in Pennsylvania. It plays out as a sappy meeting between representatives of the Counterculture and Establishment, in which each is shown to be equally shallow and in need of love and direction to straighten out their messed up lives. That this unlikely romance seems possible at all, must be credited to the skillful direction of Eastwood who takes Jo Heims’ muddled screenplay (though the dialogue is fine) over a bumpy ride to avoid most of its pitfalls. Unfortunately there are too many pitfalls to elude all of them.
The film opens with the amiable guitar-carrying hippie Breezy leaving the hippie Bruno, her one-night stand, to hitch a ride to the Valley. She’s picked up by a middle-aged leering well-dressed man who soon attempts to rape her but she uses her street smarts to escape his unwanted advances. Breezy lands near the exclusive secluded property of the prosperous Frank Harmon, a divorced real-estate broker who is unhappy in dating women in his own age group and social class. The chatterbox, living drug-free in California for the last three months (which might be the hardest thing about this film to digest), manages to talk her way into getting a ride with the reluctant and grumpy Frank into Hollywood. But the two have a difference over saving a stray dog laying by the side of the road that was hit by a car and part ways. Frank decides to do a good deed when Breezy is gone, and leaves the dog off at the vet for medical treatment. Breezy returns that night to pick up the guitar she left in Frank’s car. When she takes a shower and shows him her sweet melons and bun, it’s all over for him worrying about the fact that he’s more than twice her age and in a scene or two later they’re in the sack. The rejuvenated Frank tries to make a go of this unseemly relationship, but they have so little in common and his friends give him the evil eye that all the attempts to make this romance last for a year seem like a reach; nevertheless it’s what this flick reaches for.
The film is pretty to look at and the heroine is appealing, but it had little impact on me; its broad humor and conventional stereotyped take on hippies, and its ironical pronouncements on all relationships seemed like a mixture of sour grapes and an older male’s sexual fantasy of scoring a younger uninhibited chick with big boobs. Though it makes for a pleasant lighthearted watch, living up to its title, as it manages to deliver a few delights in its take on such an inappropriate and unbelievable relationship—it still never makes it believable. It sits as not one of Eastwood’s better films—even if he has said in interviews it’s one of his favorites.
It’s the first film that the action-oriented Clint Eastwood directed in which he did not star and his light comedy romantic sensitivity theme is much different from the way one usually perceives an Eastwood film, which may be a reason the crowds stayed away.
REVIEWED ON 5/20/2008 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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