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Roger C. Carmel

Review: Breezy

[Originally published in Movietone News 35, September 1974]

Breezy confirms the fitful but definite promise of Play Misty for Me and High Plains Drifter: Clint Eastwood can direct. Not brilliantly—at this point, anyway—but intelligently, and with conviction to spare. Conviction has a lot to do with the success of his third film, a movie one has only to synopsize in order to appreciate its bountiful capacity for ending up something dreadful: footloose hippie with big dark eyes, a funky hat, and a guitar keeps getting entangled with middleaged, joyless-playboy divorcé in real estate; she decides she loves him, he decides he “can’t cope” with loving her, they part, and an endearingly disproportionate dog reunites them. You can cut yourself off a generous portion of skepticism and still be won over by the cliché-trampling sincerity of Kay Lenz and William Holden in the respective roles. Eastwood himself stays offscreen this time (save for a brief atmosphere bit in longshot) and perhaps that helped his directorial concentration. Yet in another sense one almost feels his presence in the unforced sympathy he brings to both the young representatives of the counterculture (Breezy’s nicely characterized pals as well as the girl herself) and the well-preserved, semi-sporty, but distinctly middleaged lovers and other strangers Holden shares his California lifestyle with (Eastwood, almost incredibly, is pushing 50). It was by no means a given that Holden’s silvering hair and creased face should play off so movingly against Kai Lenz’s breathtakingly tawny-sleek flesh and clear eyes; shot after shot unobtrusively defines their awakening to a kind of mutual knowledge beyond facile paraphrase, and when Holden turns to Lenz in the night after recounting the failure of his marriage and fairly gasps, “You’re so incredibly new!”—well, it’s a considerably more awesome moment than anyone would have expected from a one-time cattle drover on Friday night CBS.

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Review: Thunder and Lightning

[Originally published in Movietone News 58-59, August 1978]

Corey Allen is best remembered as the Nick Ray actor whose sleeve got hung up on a car door handle during the chickie run in Rebel without a Cause. Last year he directed a Roger Corman programmer about moonshiners and badder cats in the B-movie South where cheerful corruption is about as plentiful and as conspicuous as sweat on a fat red neck. It was called Thunder and Lightning and, to the best of my knowledge, it never saw service in the greater Seattle area until this summer, when it was laid on as second feature to another 20th Century–Fox release with revving engines in it, The Driver. I trust no one will be overprimed with anticipation if I suggest that Thunder and Lightning is probably the most slaphappily endearing low comedy since Russ Meyer’s The Seven Minutes; on the other hand, other self-flattering slummers like me who can handle that sort of endorsement are advised to file the title away and take note of it if and when it fills out another double bill in the future.

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