Hippie-dippies and craggy squares, the Generation Gap in the Hollywood Hills, the diminished state of movie romance ("...crumbs and no cake at all"). The cultural chasm is sketched as an office window separating the black polyester suits from the "low tide" of peace signs and rainbow-colored beads, then bridged by the canoodling of a graying broker (William Holden) and a teenage vagabond (Kay Lenz). The fogy has had it with no-strings sex in his hilltop glass castle; the pixie has come to terms with transience, weeps at the sight of a wounded pooch, is enraptured by her first glimpse of a Los Angeles beach. Their love scene is sculpted with silences and genteel half-light, though not before some sub-Erich Segal sparring. (He: "All this love that you give away... Wouldn’t you once like to have it returned?" She: "Does becoming old mean feeling foolish?") Something of the Lost Movie in Clint Eastwood’s directorial oeuvre, its pastel-soft hope for mismatched relationships relates to the savage male-ego scrutiny of Play Misty for Me just as the ragtag community of The Outlaw Josey Wales relates to the sagebrush Armageddon of High Plain Drifter. Focus on outdated lingo and Michel Legrand-scored beach montages, however, and risk missing the inexorable peeling of the values from bourgeoisie and counterculture alike, Eastwood’s Sirkian attention to vivid reds within hollow interiors, the pointed way the protagonist is exposed in all his male dread by a Mephistophelian sauna comrade, and Holden’s abrupt realization, while paying for his girlfriend’s new duds, that he is now playing the Norma Desmond part. A bit of low-key captivation, specifically Californian yet curiously Gallic, a duet to be picked up and crystallized decades later in The Bridges of Madison Country. With Roger C. Carmel, Marj Dusay, Joan Hotchkis, Jamie Smith-Jackson, Shelley Morrison, and Dennis Olivieri.
--- Fernando F. Croce