Butterflies are Free (1972)

Butterflies are Free (1972)


Against the wishes of his domineering upper-class mother (Eileen Heckart, The Bad Seed), a blind young man, Don (Edward Albert, 40 Carats), leases an apartment in downtown San Francisco, USA. He wants to prove to his mother, and himself, that he can survive on his own. Don quickly befriends his next door neighbor, Jill (Goldie Hawn, Private Benjamin), a flighty teenager. They immediately form an emotional bond to the dismay of Don’s mother.

Reaction & Thoughts:

Entertaining drama-comedy based upon Leonard Gershe’s famous Broadway show of the same name. There is no attempt to open up the play and there is no need to — the dialogue is funny and the actors are excellent.

Butterflies are Free, directed by Milton Kastelas (40 Carats and Report to the Commissioner), is submerged in counter-culture milieu, but the story deals with universal issues. If you eliminate a few words and phrases, the story could easily be adapted to modern times. The generational gap, the fight for independence, individualism vs conformity, etc., are things that are still discussed today. I guess the old saying is true: “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Butterflies are Free takes place inside a single set, but it never feels claustrophobic (it was nicely shot by veteran Charles B. Lang, The Magnificent Seven and Wait Until Dark). The snappy dialogue, energetic performances, and clever editing, keep things moving at a brisk pace.

The three protagonists are superb. Goldie Hawn is a total delight in a role that fits perfectly with her screen persona; it’s one of her very best performances.

Hawn’s finely supported by Edward Albert (Eddie Albert’s son) and Eileen Heckart. It’s hard to believe that this is Albert’s second movie (his first as an adult). He looks comfortable in front of the camera. Heckart won a well-deserved Oscar for her performance. She turns the stereotypical abrasive mother into a real human being. Heckart delivers the film’s funniest lines too. Also starring Paul Michael Glaser (TV’s Stasky and Hutch) as a theater director.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Butterflies are Free is a charming and tender comedy/drama; a total delight from beginning to end. Color, 109 minutes, Rated PG.

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