Breezy (1973) from Tuna

Breezy (1973) stars Oscar winner William Holden and a very young Kay Lenz in her second film and first starring role. It was directed by Clint Eastwood, and Clint has said in interviews that this is his personal favorite of all the films he has made. So why hasn't anyone heard about it? Eastwood blames an "R" rating, which he didn't think was justified. By 1973 standards, he might well be right, but it has enough nudity and simulated sex to rate an R today, easily.

It is a May - December romance story. Bill Holden plays a reasonably prosperous real estate agent who is divorced and is not especially entertained with the women he dates in his age group and social class. Lenz plays a young hippy girl named Edith Alice Breezerman, or Breezy. After her parents died, she stayed with an aunt and uncle in Intercourse, Pennsylvania long enough to graduate High School, then grabbed her guitar and came to L.A. Breezy is an apt name for her, because she is happy-go-lucky, tends to trust easily, and has a wisdom beyond her years. When she is picked up by a real creep hitchhiking, she jumps out of the car, but finds herself in the hills around L.A. She happens on Holden's house as he is leaving for work, and charms her way into a ride to town. The ride doesn't go well, because she insists they stop for an injured dog, he is unsympathetic to the dog, and she runs off.

Later that night, she shows up at his house to retrieve the guitar she left in his car. She decides pretty quickly that he is a good person who is living under a black cloud, and wants a relationship with him. She manages to get him in bed easily, but getting him to accept a relationship with someone so much his junior is more of a challenge.

This is my era, and my stomping grounds, and I knew this couple. Sure, she wasn't from Intercourse, PA, and he was a Physics Professor, not a real estate agent, but the age difference was the same, and it was a mutually satisfying relationship. She was a lovely hippy chick and free spirit, and he was a rather prominent professor. In other words, the film was very credible. I especially liked the minor character of a stoner chick who was Breezy's best friend. She, again, was somebody I knew. Eastwood also got the dialogue, attitudes and supporting characters right. In one of the few reviews listed at IMDb, they criticize the fact that Holden sometimes uses hippy jargon, and that it is really jarring coming from someone that age. That is also 100% percent authentic. People over thirty mimicked the hippy jargon, sometimes even using it correctly, but it was always jarring. 

I first saw an edited version of this film on television, and later picked up a Betamax of it, but the tape also seemed to have some awkward cuts where nudity belonged. Even with the censorship job, I loved the film. It was wonderful to finally have a great transfer of the unedited version on DVD. If you hate romantic comedies, this one won't win you over, but, otherwise, it is a very good one, and is hence a C+. IT is also worth seeing for anyone trying to understand what the 60s were really like.


Kay Lenz shows breasts and buns in several scenes.

Scoop's notes in yellow:

Eastwood has now directed two dozen feature films over a period of nearly 35 years. There's nothing really bad on the list, and there are some mighty good films in the top three spots. The variety of his projects is surprising. I guess most of us think of him as a squinty-eyed, hoarse-voiced tough guy, but there are romances and light comedies on the list with the crime stories and Westerns.

  1. (8.19) - Mystic River (2003)
  2. (8.10) - Unforgiven (1992)
  3. (7.59) - Outlaw Josey Wales, The (1976)
  4. (7.39) - High Plains Drifter (1973)
  5. (7.17) - Bird (1988)
  6. (7.00) - Perfect World, A (1993)
  7. (6.99) - Play Misty for Me (1971)
  8. (6.90) - Pale Rider (1985)
  9. (6.80) - Bridges of Madison County, The (1995)
  10. (6.60) - White Hunter Black Heart (1990)
  11. (6.50) - Space Cowboys (2000)
  12. (6.40) - Absolute Power (1997)
  13. (6.40) - Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)
  14. (6.30) - Blood Work (2002)
  15. (6.30) - True Crime (1999)
  16. (6.21) - Heartbreak Ridge (1986)
  17. (6.21) - Sudden Impact (1983)
  18. (6.12) - Eiger Sanction, The (1975)
  19. (6.05) - Honkytonk Man (1982)
  20. (6.04) - Breezy (1973)
  21. (6.02) - Gauntlet, The (1977)
  22. (5.84) - Bronco Billy (1980)
  23. (5.52) - Firefox (1982)
  24. (5.23) - Rookie, The (1990)

I don't really enjoy Breezy the way Tuna does. I liked Bill Holden as the world-weary cynic, and Kay Lenz as the naive yet insightful Breezy, but I find the development of the film to be very, very slow going, and there's really no emotional punch until the last ten minutes. Breezy tells the real estate guy she "loves" him about ten minutes into their relationship, but he never really asks her "is this like the man-women-lifetime type of  love or more like the hippies-love-all-creatures type". Given their generation gap, and built-in communication gap, he'd want to know what she meant. Frankly, I didn't know either. Whether in 1973 when I was Breezy's age, or now when I'm the age of the real estate dude, I'd be uncomfortable with somebody throwing around the word love after she had known me for a couple of hours.

The ending is pretty darned good in a "kinda like an offbeat soap opera" way. The emotions of that finale seemed genuine, even if they were provoked by a fatal accident, which seemed like an artificial and much too obvious plot device.

On the other hand, I do agree with Tuna's points. I didn't find the film's general premise to be false. When I was an up-and-rising corporate executive, in an era close to the one pictured here, maybe a bit later, I fell for a barefoot 19 year old on the beaches of Florida. The events and feelings pictured in this film were a very reasonable reflection of the way it was - the way our relationship was perceived by our friends, the way each of us was changed by the relationship, and the highs and lows we experienced in the course of our time together. We did not have a lifetime together, but we had some good time, and it lasted longer than either of us could have imagined.

DVD info from Amazon

  • widescreen anamorphic

  • no features

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, Tuna says, "This is a C+. If you like light romantic drama, this is a very good one, directed by Clint Eastwood." Scoop calls it a "C", saying, "I found it good in some ways, but it is too slow-moving for my taste. Overall, I didn't really enjoy watching it".

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