Written by / 2/13/2013 / 1 Comment / , , , , , ,

BUTTERFLIES ARE FREE

year: 1972 cast: Goldie Hawn, Edward Albert, Eileen Heckart, Paul Michael Glaser rating: ***1/2
Edward Albert plays Don Baker, a young blind man with an artistically shabby San Fran apartment and, thanks to a girl we never meet, has acquired newly-found independence from his uptown suburban mother. 

How perfect that he's quickly attached to free-spirited hippie Jill Tanner, played by a lithe and breezy Goldie Hawn, whose pad is practically connected. 

The two strike up a conversation that feels much like a stage play. No surprise since this was based on a popular Broadway production, and the transition to the screen is smooth and involving.
Edward Albert with Goldie Hawn
Hawn portrays Jill with the kind of bubbly prowess (the girl next door who's been around the block several times) that attracts Don’s senses right away.

Jill and Don see (as it were) eye to eye on music and clothing. The only thing she’s more experienced at is seduction and what follows – he catches on soon enough. But his overprotective mother – scene stealer Eileen Heckart as Mrs. Baker – can view the relationship a little more clearly… at least she thinks so.

During a prolonged surprise visit, Mrs. Baker's constant jabs at Jill’s lifestyle (hence the entire counter-culture generation) are punctuating and funny, but Jill, striking back with a comparison to the evil stepmother in Snow White, isn’t as vapid as she lets on.
Edward Albert as Don Baker
Edward Albert has the kind of spacey-blue eyes liken to other cinematic blind characters. He does a great job in the physical movements and truly becomes the character, although at times his delivery feels sort of stiff, not always vulnerable enough for someone placed in the center of two polar opposites (Mrs. Baker and Jill) pulling him like a wishbone. 

Throughout his childhood, mom had written popular children’s books based on a character named “Donnie Dark,” a blind kid superhero that can (and always does) save the world. Perhaps Don’s laidback personality resonates from being brought up to believe that he’s just like everyone else. That is, if you don't know what you're missing, are you missing anything at all?
Edward Albert with Eileen Heckart
At one point, in a moving, emotional scene, Don breaks down to his mother after realizing butterflies are not only free, they keep on flying…

This is where Mrs. Baker climbs down off her high horse, providing Edward Albert and Eileen Heckart an opportunity to make everything else, including who the movie's really about, perfectly clear.
Goldie Hawn and jerk boyfriend Paul Michael Glaser
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1 comment:

  1. I love this movie & enjoyed your observations about it, but it takes place in San Francisco, not NYC. All the opening footage establishes this clearly. It also comes out in later conversations.

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