HTF REVIEW: "Butterflies Are Free" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Apr 9, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Ronald Epstein

    Butterflies Are Free

    When I was sent a list of new titles to review
    for the forum, I oddly chose Butterflies
    Are Free for two reasons. First, it was
    a film I had never seen before. Second, it
    was a film that earned Eileen Heckart an
    Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
    Butterflies Are Free is based on a
    Broadway play. It's the story of a young
    blind man, Don Baker (Edward Albert) who has
    just moved into his first apartment gaining
    independence from his over-protective mother
    (Eileen Heckart).
    It's not long before he makes acquaintance with
    his next door neighbor, Jill Tanner (Goldie
    Hawn), a liberated and spirited aspiring
    actress who is attracted to Don. The two soon
    become friends and lovers much to the dismay of
    Don's Mother making a sudden surprise visit to
    the apartment. You can guess about his Mother's
    apparent disapproval of her son's budding affair.
    I found this film to be somewhat enthralling,
    though slowly paced. Being that it is based on
    a Broadway play, one must accept the fact that
    the entire movie mostly takes place in the
    confines of Don's apartment. The movie relies
    heavily upon witty dialogue to move the story
    along as both characters begin to learn new
    things about each other.
    When Don's Mother arrives, the movie takes on
    a wonderfully new tone as Eileen Heckart dominates
    the screen as a disapproving mother who is not so
    much an ogre than a contrast to Jill's femininity.
    Some of the scenes between Heckart and Dawn are
    priceless -- especially upon their first meeting
    when Hawn is wearing nothing but bra and panties.
    How is the transfer?
    Butterflies are Free is presented on
    a two-sided DVD, containing both 16X9 enhanced
    widescreen (1.85:1) and standard (1.33:1) transfers.
    I was surprised that this 1972 film looked
    as good as it does. Image quality is very clean,
    with vibrant colors that give it that feel of
    60's/70's era film. The transfer does have its
    share of video noise, but it only becomes
    abundantly annoying in a few of the darker scenes.
    Otherwise, this transfer is quite nice and exhibits
    very little film blemish. Even the film's title
    credits look remarkable clean.
    The audio is mono. Though it sounds rather flat,
    I would have not expected anything more from a
    film of this period.
    Special Features
    What I find hard to understand is why the film's
    original theatrical trailer has not been
    included on this DVD. Columbia is notorious for
    not including original trailers on catalog titles.
    Between their disregard for using original cover
    art and including film original trailers, the
    studio is really thumbing their nose at preserving
    these films with historical accuracy...but that's
    another complaint for another time.
    What you do get are three trailers: Groundhog
    Day, Seems like Old Times and Cactus Flower.
    Final Thoughts
    I would presume that Butterflies Are Free
    is going to be purchased only by those familiar
    with its content and admiration for Heckart's
    performance. Otherwise, it's an interesting
    rental for those interested in a not too serious
    romance that sports the wonderfully cute Goldie
    Hawn prancing around in her bra and panties.
    Release Date: April 23, 2002
  2. Jeff_A

    Jeff_A Screenwriter

    Mar 6, 2001
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    I have eagerly anticipated this release and the transfer sounds admirable. Thanks for the great review, Ron. [​IMG]
    I love the screenshots, BTW!
  3. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist

    Feb 8, 1999
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    Robert Harris
    Harold Krents, whose writing served as a basis for this film was an extraordinary person. We went through pre-high school public school together and he was a friend. No one in class ever thought of him as being blind -- he just was.

    During the late sixties his local draft board apparently didn't understand that he had this small handicap and classified him as 1-A, which led to his writing.

    A sample of his style and humor can be found in a short extract which I've attached as a separate reply.

    I never knew him as an adult.

  4. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist

    Feb 8, 1999
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    "Blind from birth, I have never had the opportunity to see myself and have been completely dependent on the image I create in the eye of the observer. To date it has not been narcissistic.

    There are those who assume that since I can't see, I obviously also cannot hear. Very often people will converse with me at the top of their lungs, enunciating each word very carefully. Conversely, people will also often whisper, assuming that since my eyes don't work, my ears don't either. For example, when I go the airport and ask the ticket agent for assistance to the plane, he or she will invariably pick up the phone, call a ground hostess and whisper, "Hi, Jane, we've got a 76 here." I have concluded that the word "blind" is not used for one of two reasons: Either they fear that if the dread word is spoken, the ticket agent's retina will immediately detach, or they are reluctant to inform me of my condition of which I may not have been previously aware.

    On the other hand, others know that of course I can hear, but believe that I can't talk. Often, therefore, when my wife and I go out to dinner, a waiter or waitress will ask Kit if "he would like a drink" to which I respond that "indeed he would." This point was graphically driven home to me while we were in England. I had been given a year's leave of absence from my Washington law firm to study for a diploma-in-law degree at Oxford University. During the year I became ill and was hospitalized. Immediately after admission, I was wheeled down to the X-ray room. Just at the door sat an elderly woman - elderly I would judge from the sound of her voice. "What is his name?" the woman asked the orderly who had been wheeling me.

    "What's your name?" the orderly repeated to me.

    "Harold Krents," I replied.

    "Harold Krents," he repeated.

    "When was he born?"

    "When were you born?"

    "November 5, 1944," I responded.

    "November 5, 1944," the orderly intoned.

    This procedure continued for approximately five minutes at which point even my saint-like disposition deserted me. "Look," I finally blurted out, "this is absolutely ridiculous. Okay, granted I can't see, but it's got to have become pretty clear to both of you that I don't need an interpreter."

    "He says he doesn't need an interpreter," the orderly reported to the woman.

    The toughest misconception of all is the view that because I can't see, I can't work. I was turned down by over forty law firms because of my blindness, even though my qualifications included a cum laude degree from Harvard College and a good ranking in my Harvard Law School class. The attempt to find employment, the continuous frustration of being told that it as impossible for a blind person to practice law, the rejection letters, not based on my lack of ability but rather on my disability, will always remain one of the most disillusioning experiences of my life.

    Fortunately, this view of limitation and exclusion is beginning to change. On April 16, 1976, the Department of Labor issued regulations that mandate equal-employment opportunities for the handicapped. By and large, the business community's response to offering employment to the disabled has been enthusiastic.

    I therefore look forward to the day, with the expectation that it is certain to come, when employers will view their handicapped workers as a little child did me years ago when my family still lived in Scarsdale. I was playing basketball with my father in our backyard according to procedures we had developed. My father would stand beneath the hoop, shout, and I would shoot over his head at the basket attached to our garage. Our next-door neighbor, aged five, wandered over into our yard with a playmate. "He's blind," our neighbor whispered to her friend in a voice that could be heard distinctly by Dad and me. Dad shot and missed; I did the same. Dad hit the rim: I missed entirely: Dad shot and missed the garage entirely. "Which one is blind?" whispered back the little friend.

    I would hope that in the near future when a plant manager is touring the factory with the foreman and comes upon a handicapped and nonhandicapped person working together, his comment after watching them work will be, "which one is disabled?"
  5. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

    Aug 3, 2001
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    Robert...that was incredible! [​IMG] Thank you for sharing that. I have two cousins who were born deaf: one male (Steve) and the other female (Marcia), and both are highly successful career individuals and parents these days. I remember Steve taking me and my brother to a Yankee game back when Yankee Stadium was being renovated and the Yanks were playing at Shea Stadium. My cousin Steve handled the crowd like a pro, and thoroughly enjoyed the game with me and my bro. He ordered hot dogs for all of us, and was able to mystify the vendor with his lip-reading ability. He never let his situation slow him down.
    Years later, when I became a retail store manager, my "mentor" and best friend was George, another manager who had lost part of one leg in a motorcycle accident. George never let himself get slowed down, either. He decided I wasn't athletic enough, and drew me into his weekly bowling league and his street basketball games. He was good natured about his prothesis. Once a customer of his was shocked by an exchange between him and I:
    Me: I'll get you for that...I'll put termites in your pegleg!
    George: Nah; won't's plastic!
    It was good-natured ribbing between two friends, and he just appreciated that I never treated him differently.
    Back on-topic: Ron, thank you for the review of BAF. I was wondering how the transfer was on this, and you've just answered the question. I'll pick it up at Borders tomorrow. This film is one I enjoyed as a young man, and am happy to own now.
    Now if I could only get If You Can See What I Hear.

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