The Evolution and Revolution of Love and Clint Eastwood’s Breezy (1973) Part Two

*contains spoilers

Upon that fateful return to my home town a few years after moving interstate and quitting my first job… I resumed work as a journalist in that snake pit of a newsroom after failing again to produce a novel worth publishing and instead tossed off something worthless… And then shortly afterwards the poetess came into my life again as I was burning myself out working those two jobs and being underpaid in both… We met almost by chance when her organisation had lunch to promote itself to the media… Our mouths locked in a passionate kiss as soon as we excused ourselves to go to the bathroom and were out of sight. Then began the steamiest affair of my young life… If it burnt me out then it was worth it! But, again, I wanted more, for her to leave her husband as I craved a kind of conventionality… I didn’t realise I was still unattractive in that I had no money or real power. I wasn’t well-hung either.

Oh the shame! Paul Newman can’t get over it in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
Yes, turning up to work can sometimes feel like this… or lead to this! A scene from The Snake Pit (1948)
Like Lenz’s hippie, I sat on the fence like a double agent… maybe I still do, to quote Tightrope (1984)

Then my grandfather died suddenly… and she told me I was better on my own as I started to disintegrate due to burnout… We parted ways after less than a year and I went back to my family to have my long-gestating breakdown. The final night I saw the poetess, was a gin-soaked nightmare on her parent’s houseboat on the Murray River with friends. I disgraced myself with an overdose on what the alcoholics call the ‘suicide drink’ of gin… and I was ghosted and blacklisted by them all…. My disturbed soul retreated interstate, moving further from reality and into possible total forever deranged insanity. To further rub it in she also told me she didn’t understand my movie obsession while I didn’t let on that I couldn’t relate to poetry – it wasn’t ME. I hadn’t reached my intellectual peak as that would come too late.

Most disillusioned lovers such as the hippies seen here turned to drink… as the dream ended.
The drinking of gin is also known as ‘mother’s ruin’…
It depends on how you look at it…

Yet, all this was perhaps part of the catalyst for the performance artist which emerged from within this woman just as she was the catalyst for the so-called artist within me. She confirmed by physical heterosexuality in a way that I needn’t question it again and with such torrid sex that the memories would last a lifetime. The priapic young kid humiliated in the change-rooms and covering his common vital statistic due to the shame it brought upon my past friends who had been bullied simply for not having the same… returned to haunt me as the neuroses were starting to pile up amid the world’s uncaring neurosis which seemed pointed at me! No wonder I couldn’t lose my virginity all those years ago…

Breezy opens with a song which sounds like the one that was used in The Graduate, the ballad about impossible tasks asked of a lover, Simon and Garfunkel’s version of Scarborough Fair: “For once she was a true love of mine…” But it is only a riff in Breezy which is composed by Michel Legrand (1932-2019 sepsis) who wrote the score for Portney’s Complaint (1972) the year Breezy was shot despite its release being delayed by Eastwood until 1973. He had brought the film in well under budget and within its shooting schedule. Breezy was one of the first movies made by Eastwood’s production company Malpaso, which would go on to far greater success with later releases. However, Breezy was not a success at the box office.

Kay Lenz with husband David Cassidy
Clint Eastwood and Kay Lenz on the beach during the making of Breezy (1973)

But Eastwood’s fascination over the beauty and innocence of its star Kay Lenz is indelible in the finished product. Lenz is probably best remembered today as the former wife of singer David Cassidy (1950-2017 liver failure) and for appearing in tv mini-series Rich Man, Poor Man (1976) and its sequel and winning a couple of Emmy awards. Her feature career never really took off after she made one of her first appearances in American Graffiti (1972) as a girl named Jane. That movie is a relation to the tv series Happy Days and is also about the never-ending quest by some teenagers to lose their virginity. Lenz got a Golden Globe nomination as Most Promising Newcomer for Breezy.

“You know what stops me? Fear,” says Holden’s friend played by Roger C. Carmel (1932-86 suicide/overdose/cardiomyopathy/possible homicide) to Holden about his failure to leave his marriage and start again. He asks if Holden gets lonely and gets the answer from Holden who then swigs from a glass of spirits: “I don’t know what loneliness is… If I did, I’ve forgotten it.” I don’t know if Holden’s alcoholism was hereditary, certainly I inherited it.

Roberta Flack sings The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face from Play Misty for Me (1971)
A young Kay Lenz with Ron Howard who wears a turtle-neck as Opie in The Andy Griffith Show
Ron Howard directs Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind (2001)

The provocative sexuality of Breezy predicts the perishing of Eastwood’s first marriage but not the bitterness… It is an evolution of sorts for Holden instead of the revolution of the so-called free love of the hippies as they parade in public before returning to their tawdry squats or their affluent parents. But perhaps it really is hard to know what Eastwood really thinks as he was a man of action and of few words who does not really do commentaries on his workmanlike movies. Locke once said she was frustrated by his inability to express himself. But I don’t think he was consumed by bitterness over his failed first marriage as he was too clever and career driven for that to happen. Like most men, he just wanted to get laid upon being rich and famous and succeeded where others had failed. Breezy was also the catalyst in the creation of the artist as director within Eastwood too I think as it sublimated that sex scene contained within Play Misty for Me which includes images under a waterfall that almost seemed inspired by a deodorant commercial as it is accompanied by the Roberta Flack song The First Time… Ever I Saw Your Face. The First Time again… It seems we’re hooked on love over and over again as we can’t get enough… Just like movies or ‘ent’.

Eastwood said that Breezy was one of his favourite movies and perhaps he laid Lenz at the time as he kept Sondra Locke in a holding pattern when he denied her Lenz’s role. Who knows?

Wishful thinking? Or the dreams of old men? The foresight of Breezy (1973) came to fruition for its director Eastwood. Many are just left with a memory.
Harold and Maude (1971) poster
Susan Sarandon in the far more politically correct White Palace (1990)

The flip-side of Breezy in terms of much older women inspiring love in a younger man who is dead on the inside in terms of emotions and perhaps still a virgin came in the wake of The Graduate and in the form of Harold and Maude (1971). It is seen as a bit of a dirty joke compared to the sentiment in Breezy. White Palace (1990) starring Susan Sarandon (1946-) as an older woman is far more acceptable in terms of relationships which push the boundaries of age and social class… And remains a role model as a result.

I met Clint Eastwood on 3 June in 1991 and I know the date because it was the opening of Warner Bros. Movie World on the Gold Coast. I optimistically packed a Dirty Harry poster along with a The Thing poster and a Foul Play poster because Eastwood and Kurt Russell and his partner Goldie Hawn were making appearances to officially open the fun park. I was heading towards a breakdown after being burnt out that second time but was still functioning enough to pre-meditate a possible meeting with the stars – somehow. My father scored tickets and so the family went.

Clint Eastwood meets Dickie Knee on Hey! Hey! It’s Saturday! in 1991.
The Dirty Harry Bar is still at Movie World on the Gold Coast

Anyway, the stars opened Movie World in front of a crowd on a large stage and promptly didn’t sign any autographs and disappeared. Disappointed, the family unit of my parents and a family friend and myself retreated to Movie World’s licenced restaurant… The fact everyone was exploring the park and lining up for the rides, most forgot to eat beyond the concession stands… Anyway, all three stars were inside having lunch in an almost empty restaurant with minor Aussie tv celebrities as well as the Premier of the state of Queensland… I right boring twat… We sat and ordered and I wondered when to make my movie… When Eastwood went for the main entrance to possibly go and christen the Dirty Harry Bar across the forecourt by having a beer … I followed and since he had been on the Aussie variety show Hey! Hey! It’s Saturday! the previous evening and had encountered the stick puppet Dickie Knee much to his delight, I stupidly copied Dickie Knee’s voice and started calling out: “Mr Eastwood! Mr Eastwood!” in the same tone as he encountered the previous evening. I nearly tripped over the roped barricade as I sent myself up as some sort of crazed fan in search of an autograph. Obviously thinking I was a crazed fan – despite the fact I’d met Mick Jagger, interviewed singer Robert Palmer and various other celebrities in my journalistic past to name a few – Clint turned and put up the palm of his hand as if to signal ‘stop’ in the deserted square as he stared at me with the famous protruding vein in his temple apparently throbbing…

Yes, the veins were protruding… in my encounter with Clint!

He then held out his hand for the poster and pen and upon being unable to open the pen handed it back to me… I twisted it open, coolly and handed it back to Clint who sensed I was essentially sane and then he rasped to me: “You’ve really got to settle down.” I had asked him to write something like: Go ahead, Play Misty for Me!, but all I got was something like: “Clunk Eistwoal” due to the lack of a hard surface – Anyway, it’s framed and hangs on my lounge wall along with Goldie and Kurt who I later approached and to which Russell said to the burgeoning crowd I’d initiated: “It’s cool.” So, that’s my Clint Eastwood story. No, we didn’t share a beer and talk about transcendental meditation or the possibilities of his work containing some sort of auteur theory… But that hand outstretched without a .44 Magnum in it will suffice forever! Yes, nerd! This was before Eastwood’s golden period as a director which began with Unforgiven (1992) starring new lover and muse Frances Fisher (1952). Lest we forget the birth of son Scott Eastwood (1985-) to airline hostess Jacelyn Reeves (1951-). Scott and Jace – I like that, as it was me and my best friend and country boy born Scott who so worshiped Clint as young teenagers!! Scott’s dad the cop took an underage fifteen-year-old Scott to see the R-rated Sudden Impact. So cool. Scott was a friend I loved more than all those other schmucks at school huddled together and I still miss him… And Carl, love you too, mate! … Then Clint went on to make Mystic River (2003).

Clint Eastwood went on to his golden era here directing Mystic River (2003)
Rasputia Latimore

So, I took Clint’s advice to settle down along with the poetess’s tip that I was better off alone. I still held the torch for the poetess and did for many years… as I echo again the words of the alcoholic William Holden in that “I don’t know what loneliness is…” Then I met an old work colleague – Rasputia Latimore – who totally humiliated me in the fashion almost exactly portrayed in the movie Norbit (2007)… and, as if I hadn’t totally humiliated myself like the schlemiel louche etc. I had been over decades, I then found the poetess’s phone number where she lived with her husband and drank and dialled upon my release from Rasputia’s clutches and told the poetess, who I hadn’t spoken to in years, about the whole sorry episode – I was always naïve when it came to what women want. The words the poetess used weren’t quite those used by the heroine from Sondra Locke’s movie Impulse, when she says to a coded Eastwood character when she’s about to get away with a fortune in cash: “Blow it out your ear, asshole!” … But I shall remember the words which broke my leaden heart in two, kind of like the little sparrow did to the statue when it died at the end of Oscar Wilde’s story of The Happy Prince, when the poetess said simply: “I don’t care.”

They all add up to the same thing…
Oh, what a fool to dream of love eternal!
Like to the town dump… or the morgue. No-one seemed to care.

Well, upon hanging up the phone you never saw such a second nervous breakdown as a result! It happened almost in slow motion and in splendid Monster’s Ball fashion where I gave into paranoia and while I wasn’t officially arrested after I drove off into the countryside with vague plans of turning up uninvited at some imagined film award show in a far-off city… I had no idea when or where it was happening after I imagined that Foxtel was communicating with me at home on the telly… Instead, I drove around in circles lost on dark country roads until I ran out of fuel! Country road take me home… I don’t think I said a word between the phone call and being picked up by the police!! Oh, well… I was then taken back to the city hospital locked ward without handcuffs because the police felt sorry for me because I wasn’t taking drugs or alcohol. It’s amazing how just a few words can totally destroy someone’s life… and I can joke about it now, just as I can joke about the first breakdown… Meanwhile said poetess published her poems which related to Hamlet’s Ophelia and went on to great success in her field… feted and honoured within the literary community. I remained broken and forgotten for many years as my psychiatrist nearly killed me with his ‘good overdose’ as I battled alcoholism and a vague feeling of being lonesome as I fell under the influence of further demons and neuroses. My dreams of literary celebrity dashed forever. How does a once happy hippy turn into this character? And I remember once again a critic lisping at the end of a preview of the Ron Howard movie A Beautiful Mind (2001): “At least he got better!” as I wept on my way down the plughole and eventually down that country road. I’m sure I’m repeating myself from the Joker article.

Yes, I give up! You all seem to want me to!!

But to end on a word about the love portrayed in Breezy – and to a lesser degree myself around that age – about its seventeen-year-old who wanted to live a life of peace and sexual freedom and I know it’s impossible and that the hippie dream is all an exploitative hustle, especially if you have no money or permanent home… and you are instead just proclaimed mentally ill and labelled… Peace, love and freedom – who’s he kidding!? I may remain one of the great unwashed… I missed my opportunity and played the game wrongly and yet the experience has left me rich in ways unimaginable.

There is a moment towards the end of Breezy where Alice, which is Breezy’s real name, stands on the outer of a group of hippies at a park… It is an aimless life where ‘love’ is a concept to the individual as he or she passes through transitory moments with other individuals as they hustle to live with older heteros or homos with the dough or bread to keep them. It is probably not surprising that in Holden’s character’s house there is a copy of the book Roots by Alex Haley (1921-92 heart attack) which is upside-down on the shelf…possibly symbolising the rootlessness, both in terms of sex and a home and the love of a community which really does not care. It could be just upside down as Eastwood is not really known for depth. Alice was also a name used to describe individuals in the gay community in Dirty Harry by Eastwood and yet here it is used for a woman who loves one and all… She is anybody’s and yet nobody’s… Just like I was in a snap-shot during a period of my life and continue to be in a way… But now more of a prisoner of near-poverty and the fear of rejection… especially the fear of meeting another Rasputia Latimore!

Cher’s journey ends in tears as she paints it black in Chastity (1969)
Daffy Duck utters the word like Cher’s Chastity did in the end: “Mother”

Those words: “I don’t care…” uttered by the poetess echo still in my mind as I remember I put down the old-fashioned phone receiver with tears welling from my broken heart and into my eyes. Does anyone really care at all? I am amused by my reaction in retrospect. Part of me is the hardened cynic played by Holden in Breezy. And yet there is still a part of me which is again that young teenager, who was like the double agent played by Laurence Harvey in A Dandy in Aspic (1968), which happened to be completed the month I was born and ‘cut’ in the wake of the fatal heart attack of director Anthony Mann (1906-67) … Harvey’s character of Eberlin is left homeless in the end … and dead to the world as a result. No one really did care.

Was the thrill of it all, the love and all the hatred in the world, all over a neurosis-inducing vital statistic, which still strikes fear into young boys out-numbered at the occasional school public urinal? I’d rather not know or take any notice of what they say and in a way I’ve been taught the lesson of first love: “I don’t care…” And a gross louche that is myself comes to mind again as I am back in reality!

Some of us don’t appear to be physically perfect and thus beautiful…
Something about a clean heart…
Not quite the Hebrew metaphor… different but kind of the same.

The fact a secular circumcidere had no meaning led to neurosis when all I had to look at instead was the Muslim metaphor of it symbolising a clean heart and the Jewish metaphor of it as leaving a reminder from birth that men and women and the world will treat you just as badly and leave their mark on you as well. You also don’t have to carry the scar to be circumcidere in your mind, just as the fact that if you do carry the scar means your mind is circumcidere as well. Part of the beauty of freedom from organised religion is that it’s like eating meat. You don’t have to just eat a goat, when you can take the best cuts of meat from different types of animal or the best meanings from differing religions… Some don’t eat meat at all, or possibly won’t know what the hell I am going on about in this article! Life’s a banquet yet some poor souls are starving to death, to quote something inexactly from Auntie Mame (1958). It doesn’t matter and my father who went through the humiliation of the procedure due to a pre-cancerous foreskin in his mid-70s cannot change his thinking or accept the metaphor as I think he was against me being ‘done’ when I was a baby due to the fact that he was Catholic and his best friends growing up were Italian.

Breezy (1973) trailer
Breezy (1973) artwork
Clint Eastwood at the climax of Gran Tarino (2008)

Which explains why I’m kind of on the fence and my former neurosis was compounded by being the only circumcidere boy in the family …. No grandfathers or uncles or cousins or even brothers… I thought I was strange growing up when I saw other male family members naked. But it remains some sort of initiation into maleness if not masculinity and Clint Eastwood would probably be baffled how I have linked love and sex with this subject and the movie Breezy. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter and no-one takes any notice of the meaning… which I guess is why this procedure is practised less and less these days. It’s just a neurosis and society must evolve as well.

Before I met Rasputia, I stalked Clint Eastwood one more time in 2000, when I wrote a screenplay for a proposed final Dirty Harry movie entitled Callahan. In it, Harry had lung cancer and dreamt of retiring to fly-fish at his country retreat but is haunted by the figure of Scorpio – to be played by an older Andrew Robinson again – as if he has returned from the dead to stalk Harry. He also gets involved with a young black orphan… I sent this unsolicited manuscript to Malpaso but they sent it back apparently unread. Later, a dying Eastwood character would appear in Gran Tarino (2008). Futility won out.

I had a dream recently that the poetess and I met and we ran away together… It’s just she had to pull out a machine gun and shoot her husband and her entire family to do so in full-on and gory Quentin Tarantino style. It was an epic dream! Keep them coming.

Or was it Rasputia with the machine-gun? Meet the Feebles (1989) poster.
One inspiring book out there…
Life was a beach in 1984 – and I was a son of a bitch!

Finally, Breezy keeps alive the possibility of love for a rainy day and therein lies the hope in this time capsule of youthful folly and its dreams of the teenage sexual libertine whose philosophy about such can only end in short-lived conventionality and then possibly a total break from reality and love… It seems that way no matter how you look at it… Even if you turn it round and look at it… Does the scar tissue which results, after it was done in the beginning with what I am ensured was love and tenderness, look the same to you? Love, along with sex, can be a religious experience which has us return not because of the difference of each experience – sure, there are different positions – but because we hope to chase the same tail of the dragon…  And so, humans go about loving one another equally for a little while as those who go without such love and carry on alone must rely on being second class citizens who are left to admire a God which we deem superior to quell some Fear of Missing Out… Can’t we all be one and love one supreme being equally? It sounds like hippy bullshit, man!! Bring on world war three instead…

 “I don’t know, if we’re lucky, we might last a year…” William Holden tells Breezy about their love and sex life as they walk into the distance at the end of the movie. I remain forever grateful for those affairs in my life, the one’s that lasted only a summer or even a year or more… even the one-night stands that I can remember! I keep those women deep in my heart. The poetess in particular. And that ends the over-zealous self-mythologising in this two-headed freak of an article – one non-circumcidere and the other, well… it was probably caused by the mind-controlling nano-particles in my Astra Zeneca anti-Covid jab finally kicking in!!

Addendum: Speaking of A Dandy in Aspic (1968) and if you watch The Rockford Files episode The House on Willis Avenue and there is the acronym A.S.P.I.C. which is Atlanta Southern Personal Information Centre which “smells of powerful people and the invasion of personal privacy” with a disclaimer at end about the threat to “liberty” that the results of such a computer pose to the world. Scary for criminals and those who don’t want happiness within themselves and the community…

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