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  Breezy Free Spirit
Year: 1973
Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: William Holden, Kay Lenz, Roger C. Carmel, Marj Dusay, Joan Hotchkis, Jamie Smith-Jackson, Norman Bartold, Lynn Borden, Shelley Morrison, Dennis Olivieri, Eugene Peterson, Lew Brown, Richard Bull
Genre: RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Breezy (Kay Lenz) awakens in the bed she has spent the night in, beside Bruno (Dennis Olivieri) who she met the previous evening and was "good" enough to to offer her a place to stay. As she pulls on her clothes, he is roused from his slumber and asks her if she has any money on her; she tells him she has left a quarter on the bedside table, as she needs the rest of her change to buy a cup of coffee. After bidding farewell, she heads out to the Californian streets and starts hitchhiking for a ride to The Valley, but her first candidate picks her up and acts threateningly until she seizes her chance to escape. So who can she choose now?

How about William Holden, playing estate agent Frank Harmon, who happens to be leaving his house at the same time Breezy is hanging around outside? Whether he wants her to or not, and initially he does not, she jumps into his car and practically demands that he take her to where she wishes to go, and he is too surprised to do anything about it until his accustomed grumpy old man personality reasserts itself. But this is the start of something, one of those May to December romances so beloved of Hollywood which tend to look more like wish-fulfilment on behalf of the male filmmakers.

However, the male filmmaker in this case was Clint Eastwood, not a man especially wanting for female attention one would have presumed, although his first film as director, Play Misty for Me, might have indicated that he was not entirely enamoured of that kind of reaction from the ladies who appreciated his work. Breezy here does start acting like a fan of Frank's after a while, possibly it comes across that way as it's hard to see what else he can offer her other than security, but to Eastwood and writer Jo Heims' credit it was difficult to render these kind of relationships convincing in the movies without pandering to a certain crowd who might well be wishing they had Frank's luck.

Breezy is nineteen, and her new friend is over twice her age (Holden was fifty-five, but years of alcohol abuse had left him looking twenty years older), yet the story does not shy away from his unease with the affection shown to him by a girl young enough to be his daughter. Socially, it puts him in an uncomfortable position as his friends have trouble taking the affair seriously, not to mention his extremely bitter ex-wife who it is implied has forced Frank to find solace in his own company. Is he lonely or does he truly feel better when he's alone? Could be he's not even sure himself, although he does keep up to date with his circle of friends, with best mate Bob (Roger C. Carmel) making him question why he has got to know Breezy at all.

The fact is, Frank has fallen in love with her and she with him, so all the optimism the film has that two people from two different worlds could cross the generation gap and find common ground does at least find a sweetness in what could be unintentionally seedy. At the time this was released, it was not what Eastwood's fans were expecting at all, and it was pretty much ignored as audiences preferred to look forward to his next thriller or Western, but now, post-Bridges of Madison County, we can see it was the first exploration of the star's sensitive side, even though he does not appear in the movie at all (other than a tiny cameo that you need to be looking out for to spot). As far as that goes, it produces some interesting scenes, with Barbara Hershey-lookalike Lenz's analogies to Eve, what with her fondness for apples and frequent lack of clothes, but whether you can accept this as sincere is a matter of taste, and even if you do it is a slight tale. Music by Michel Legrand.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Clint Eastwood  (1930 - )

Becoming a superstar in the late 1960s gave Clint Eastwood the freedom to direct in the seventies. Thriller Play Misty for Me was a success, and following films such as High Plains Drifter and The Outlaw Josey Wales showed a real talent behind the camera as well as in front of it. He won an Oscar for his downbeat Western Unforgiven, which showed his tendency to subvert his tough guy status in intriguing ways. Another Oscar was awarded for boxing drama Million Dollar Baby, which he also starred in.

Also a big jazz fan, as is reflected in his choice of directing the Charlie Parker biopic Bird. Other films as director include the romantic Breezy, The Gauntlet, good natured comedy Bronco Billy, Honkytonk Man, White Hunter Black Heart, The Bridges of Madison County, OAPs-in-space adventure Space Cowboys, acclaimed murder drama Mystic River, complementary war dramas Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima and harrowing true life drama Changeling. Many considered his Gran Torino, which he promised would be his last starring role (it wasn't), one of the finest of his career and he continued to direct with such biopics as Jersey Boys, American Sniper and The Mule to his name.

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