erhaps Little Donnie Dark says it best at the end of each of his children's story books: "There are none so blind as those who will not see."
Two of the three main characters in this Milton Katselas directed bittersweet drama demonstrate this quote. The other has no choice but to live it.
Butterflies Are Free commences by giving a visual mini-tour of 1972's culturally revolutionized San Francisco. Psychedelically inspired rainbow vans fill the crammed streets of SF, while long haired young men meander the littered sidewalks wearing women's fur coats and Tyrollean hats. On one corner of the street pacifistic hippies loiter in clusters, while the other corner boasts a solitary Asian man semblatantly practicing martial arts. Amiable and bizarre, early '70's 'Cisco is not unlike modern day Hollywood.
The first and most engaging of the characters that we meet is Jill Tanner (Goldie Hawn). Ex-hippie turned Young Republican turned sloppy free-wheeling actress, Jill is the quintessential early 70's chick. Blonde, petite and bright-eyed, Jill's physical appearance smacks of an auspicious lead in a romantic comedy, but her seemingly ingenue beauty hides an abundance of worldliness. Married for six days in Los Angeles at the age of sixteen, 19-year old Jill has come to the conclusion that love, among other things, is "too confining". All she needs in this world is freedom... And food.
JILL: "For dinner I'd come out of a coma."
Don Baker (Edward Albert) is of a similar age to Jill, but of a very dissimilar background. Blind since birth, Don has mastered how to become very self-reliant in his immaculately tidy apartment. Originally from Hillsborough, located ten miles from San Francisco, Don's ex-girlfriend Linda Fletcher gave him the valor to seek independence with a home of his own, but unfortuantely she soon deserted him for a painter and the two eloped to Mexico. However Don is open to a new love, and so is Jill... Sort of.
JILL: "It's the greatest bed I've ever seen. And I've seen a lot of beds."
The walls connecting Jill and Don's apartments are about as soundproof as air, and the two meet when Don tells Jill to turn down her radio. The rest of the film follows the couple through a blue streak relationship in which the two confide their vulnerabilites and strengths to each other;go shopping for "wild" ensambles at "Asparagus's" clothing store; eat a quaint meal on the "beach"; and make free love with each other.
The duo are idiosyncratic to say the least, but that is to be expected since they reside in 1972, a very evolutionary and sometimes tragic year: The United States was at war with North Vietnam; "Pong" introduced the video game craze; and lovers around the country were necking to Carole King's "Tapestry".
Chaos is introduced to the lovers shangri-la when Don's mother, Mrs. Baker (Eileen Heckart) makes a surprise cameo to Don's modest diggs. She is horribly displeased to find Don and Jill in their underwear and sarcastically mouths off at nonchalant Jill who in turn seems to become disenchanted with her newfound romance, and trapses out of the apartment and into the arms of another man.
Jill has strong feelings for Don, even is she denies it, but so does his mother, and Don's future is in a tug of war between the two women in his life, especially in an intense scene where Mrs. Baker takes Jill out for lunch.
JILL: "Well you might be dead right about me, I'm not the ideal girl for Don. But I know one thing, neither are you! And if I'm gonna tell anybody to go home, it's gonna be you Mrs.Baker. You go home!"
Will Mrs. Baker stop being so blind to her sons true needs? Will Jill understand that she can only truly be free when she unlocks the chains around her heart and lets Don in?
Butterflies are wild, but surely not incapable of being free to fall in love.
Don't forget that Butterflies Are Free is now available to order on Widescreen DVD using our special 70s search device... [See DVD section or click here for more details]
By: Bridgette Marie
This is my absolute favorite film from the 70's, and my second favorite Goldie Hawn movie, the first being 1980's Seems Like Old Times.
I know this is not one of the most famous blockbuster films of the decade, but it has such a great script and romance and heart. The lead character reminds me of myself in a lot of ways, zany yet serious at times as well. Sort of like Susan in 1985's "Desperately Seeking Susan."
If you haven't watched this film, I definitely recommend it as one of your must have's for any 70's film collection.
The character of Jill Tanner in BAF was originally based on Leonard Gershe's real life next-door neighbor, Mia Farrow.
Before it opened in 1969, potential producers scoffed at the marketing value of Leonard Gershe's sentimental play Butterflies Are Free,let alone xpecting it to be a long-running hit. 1,128 performances later, those same producers were forced to accept that a play about a blind man's attempt at self-reliance was the right material at the right time.
Leonard Gershe based his play Butterflies Are Free on a real life blind attorney.
When BAF originally played on Broadway at the Booth theater, the play was peformed from October 21st 1969 through July 2nd 1972. Eileen Heckart played Mrs.Baker, like in the film, but the role of Jill Tanner was played by Blythe Danner (Gwyneth Paltrow's real mother),and the role of Don was played by Keir Dullea.
The filmmakers purposefully accentuated the theatricality by keeping the locations and characters to a small number.
When Stephen Schwartz got to town in 1969, his agent told him that there would be a new comdey called Butterflies Are Free, and that if he had the time or the inclination, he could write a song for the show and she's submit it to the creative staff. Schwatrz did just that, never dreaming he'd be the winner, but he was. The song was heard in all 1,128 Broadway performances as well as being sung by Edward Albert in the 1972 movie. The song has since been recorded a number of times.
Eileen Heckart won a Best Supporting Actrees Oscar for her work in the film.
BAF was Edward Albert's first film as an adult. He was just 21 years old at the time, and the film won him a Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer.
While the film version of BAF was set in 1972's San Francisco, the Broadway play version was set in 1969's East 11th Street New York.
The personality of Dr.Elliot Reid (Sarah Chalke) from the t.v show "Scrubs" was inspired by Goldie Hawn's character in BAF, according to writer Bill Lawrence.
Edward Albert says he is still complimented on his performance to this day, but he always modestly replies that he wouldn't have been as convincing without the aid of his fellow co-stars.
The saying butterflies Are Free comes from Charles Dickens's novel Bleak House. The complete quote is:"I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free. Mankind will surely not deny to Harold Skimpole what it concedes to the butterflies."
In 1986, a musical movie version was made of Butterflies Are Free.
In 1972, San Francisco was a city in transition that served as the metaphoric backdrop for the characetrs who grow through the film.
Goldie Hawn's real life personality was not much different than her character of Jill Tanners in the 70's. In 1977 she was quoted as saying, "Monogamy is impossible these days for both sexes. I don't know anyone who's faithful or wants to be."
When Mrs. Baker takes Jill to lunch in order to kick her out of her sons life she takes her to "Perrys" restaurant which is is still located to this day on Union Street in san Francisco.
Marvin Marsh was the set decorator for Butterflies Are Free. He's done sets for literally dozens of well known films, just to name a few: "Star Trek", "Annie", "Flashdance", ""Ghostbusters", "Peggy Sue Got Married", ""Lethal Weapon", "Adams Family Values", "The Generals Daughter", "Home Alone 2", ""The Golden Child".
Goldie Hawn has played a character named Jill in two movies: "Butterflies Are Free" and "Shampoo".
Alyssa Milano performed as Jill in the stage production of this play a few years back, either in 2000 or 2001. [Thanks to Lisa]
know some Butterflies Are Free trivia that we could add? [Please
send it in]
I am not completely positive if a soundtrack was ever put out for Butterflies Are Free, but it seems reasonable since some great timely 70's music was used in the film. No disco, which came much later in the 70's thank goodness, but only great folk rock type songs are included in this film.
The songs included in the film are:
Butterflies Are Free by Edward Albert
Take Me Home,Country Roads by Edward Albert
Carry Me by Steve Adler
Soundtrack Available: Unknown
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