Butterflies Are Free (1972): Comedy Starring Goldie Hawn and Eileen Heckart in Oscar-Winning Performance

Leonard Gershe adapted to the big screen his Broadway play about a blind boy (Edward Albert), living in San Francisco trying to make it on his own—despite protests of his domineering, overprotective mother (played by Eileen Heckart). When the boy falls in love with his cooky, free-spirited neighbor (Goldie Hawn at her sexiest), the mother tries to break up the relationship, using all kinds of arguments.

Though popular at the time, the stiff film, poorly directed by Milton Katselas, betrays its theatrical origins, and there is not much to look at, but the acting of the two women is good.

Oscar Nominations: 3

Supporting Actress: Eileen Heckart

Cinematography: Charles Lang

Sound: Arthur Piantadosi and Charles Knight


Oscar Awards: 1

Supporting Actress

Oscar Context

This was the last nomination of lenser Charles Lang, who received many nominations but won only one award. Eileen Heckart won the Supporting Actress Oscar at her second nomination; her first was for playing another distressed mother, in “The Bad Seed.”

The major competition in the 1972 Oscar race was between Coppola’s “The Godfather” and Bob Fosse’s musical “Chicago,” with each winning 10 nominations. The Academy voters split the awards between “The Godfather” and “Chicago,” which won 8 out of its 10 nominations, including Best Director. The other three nominees for the top award were: John Boorman’s “Deliverance” with 3 nods; the foreign-language “The Emigrants” with 4, and Martin Ritt’s Depression era saga “Sounder” also with 4.