Breezy: Eastwood’s Second Directing Effort

breezy_posterClint Eastwood’s second directing effort, Breezy, an intergenerational romance, is less impressive tan his debut behind the camera. This was the first film Clint Eastwood directed in which he did not star.

Dealing with an issue that was relevant in the late 1960s, the Counterculture versus the Establishment, the tale centers on Frank Harmon, played by Willaim Holden in one of his last roles as an older, rich, recently divorced businessman.

One morning, he discovers a hippie girl who calls herself Breezy (Kay Lenz) asleep on his front porch. Frank asks her to leave and she does. But realizing she forgot her guitar, she returns the next day to retrieve it.

Breezy asks Frank to take a bath, and gentleman that he is, he even lets her sleep at his house. A few days later, Breezy turns up at again at Frank’s, accompanied by a cop, after being arrested for vagrancy. Lying to the police that she lived with her uncle Frank, the latter plays along. Against his better judgment, he lets her stay with him.

breezy_5_eastwoodSpending time together, Frank and Breezy begin knowing each other, and their friendship turns into love affair. When he’s criticized by his friends, Frank breaks it off.

Jo Heims, who wrote the script about love between an older man and a teenage girl, initially wanted Eastwood to play the lead, but the star held that he was too young; Holden is 12 years his senior. After many auditions, Kay Lenz, who had recently appeared in American Graffiti, was cast as Breezy.

Shooting by lenser Frank Stanley began in November of 1972 in Los Angeles and finished five weeks later, three days before schedule and $1 million under budget, which established Eastwood reputation as a fast and efficient filmmaker.  Stanley would shoot four films Eastwood’s company, Malpaso.

breezy_4_eastwoodSneak previews yielded bad response, causing the studio (Universal) to shelve the picture for a year.  Released without marketing, it was a commercial flop.

Disappointed, Eastwood claimed that “the public stayed away from it because it wasn’t promoted enough, and it was sold in an uninteresting fashion,” but the problem might have been different: The film lacked real eroticism and the sex scenes were too mild and restrained for the racy years of the 1970s.

 

breezy_3_eastwoodThe movie had one lasting effect: Lenz and the Breezy characters appeared in the story of Philip K. Dick’s  novel, Valis. Scenes from the film are used on the music track “Breezy” (aka “My Name’s Breezy”) by French alternative group Make the Girl Dance, featured on their 2011 album Everything is Gonna be OK in the End.

Cast

William Holden as Frank Harmon

Kay Lenz as Edith Alice ‘Breezy’ Breezerman

Roger C. Carmel as Bob Henderson

Marj Dusay as Betty Tobin

Joan Hotchkis as Paula Harmon

Lynn Borden as Harmon’s Overnight Date

Shelley Morrison as Nancy Henderson

Eugene Peterson as Charlie