Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: William Holden, Kay Lenz, Roger C. Carmel, Marj Dusay, Joan Hotchkis, Jamie Smith-Jackson, Norman Bartold, Lynn Borden, Shelley Morrison
Written by: Jo Heims
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 106
Date: 11/16/1973
IMDB

Breezy (1973)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Hippy Chick

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Up to now I had seen all of the 38 films directed by Clint Eastwood except this odd duck, this lone outcast in his filmography that looks like some remnant from the hippie days. But what a surprise to see that Breezy is really quite touching and even delightful.

Toothy, peppy Kay Lenz is adorable as the title character, a carefree hippie who accepts a ride from a man that turns out to be a lecherous creep. She escapes but finds herself stranded in a wealthy section of Los Angeles. She comes across the serious bachelor Frank Harmon (William Holden) and gets a ride from him. They make an instant connection; Frank tries to size her up, but her complete guilelessness — she has a positive spin on every grumpy, cynical thing Frank says — blindsides him.

The rest of the movie deals mainly with Frank's struggle with their age difference (he's roughly 55 and she's roughly 20), and with the fact that he has never allowed himself to be tied down. Thankfully Breezy is allowed to do more than just react to him; she's a strong, and sensual force.

Eastwood already seems to have a sure touch here, using the large picture windows in Frank's house to suggest both intimacy and separation. There's a great shot as Frank crumples up a phone number and lets it drop in an ash tray as he watches his latest conquest depart.

But perhaps more interesting is his respectful presentation of this powerful, self-assured woman, the opposite of Evelyn, the psychotic female of his directing debut Play Misty for Me. Placing her alongside the women in the rest of Eastwood's filmography sheds new light on them all, suggesting that even the ones who are defined by male characters are still strong and singular.

Breezy reminded me of Chaplin's A Woman of Paris, a similar, early "outcast" movie usually ignored in favor of his more famous movies, and the movies that starred its director. But both movies also reveal a kind of love and respect that remains important in the rest of the work. (In one scene, Breezy and Frank go to the movies to see Eastwood in High Plains Drifter, a movie that came out earlier in 1973.)

Kino Lorber released this worthy film on a gorgeous new Blu-ray for 2020. It includes a co-commentary track by film historian Howard S. Berger, and author/screenwriter C. Courtney Jayner, and a batch of trailers.

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