Harold and Maude (8/3/12)

Harold and MaudeMovie One Hundred Eighty One

Harold and Maude is the story of a young, death-obsessed man and an older, free-spirited woman becoming close.

Harold (Bud Cort) comes from a very well-to-do family and goes to elaborate lengths to stage his own death to get a rise out of people, usually his mother (Vivian Pickles), drives a hearse, and attends random funerals. At one of the funerals, he meets a plucky older woman named Maude (Ruth Gordon) who is about to turn 80 but acts like a carefree young child. The two instantly hit it off despite Harold’s love for the morbid and Maude’s love for life. While Harold’s mother continuously tries to set him up on dates (where he usually fakes his own suicide), Harold announces that he is going to marry Maude instead, who has shown him more about life than he ever imagined.

To put it bluntly, Harold and Maude is a very dark comedy but it is a comedy if you have kind of a sick sense of humor. It’s hard to describe the style of humor but it’s either very morbid and dry most of the time. Certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you do find it humorous then you’ll likely be laughing throughout most of the film. For the most part, Harold and Maude is meant to be taken lightly and it does not try to bring you down, some people simply may not find the humor in suicide the film revels in.

One thing I need to point out about Harold and Maude is the terrific original soundtrack by Cat Stevens. Even if you aren’t a fan of his music, it fits the film so well. You may even recognize the songs without knowing they originated from this film. Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon have surprising chemistry too, not in a sexual manner, necessarily, the two just seem very comfortable with each other. Bud Cort’s deadpan deliveries cracked me up and Ruth Gordon just lights up the screen.

Another great release by the Criterion Collection and a marked improvement over the DVD copy we had. I am in love with the cover art, which captures the mood of Harold and Maude so well. The extras are entertaining as well, but I didn’t dive into them very much. Picture and sound are above average, as one would expect from Criterion.

If you like your comedies dark and haven’t seen Harold and Maude then I think you’ll really be in for a treat. The unusual pairing makes such a wonderful story of love and friendship and the whole thing is made doubly unusual with the staged suicides and deathly humor. There is literally no other film quite like Harold and Maude.

I give it 4 Jaguar hearses out of 5.

Links:

Rotten Tomatoes

IMDB

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48 responses to “Harold and Maude (8/3/12)

  1. Congrats Andy! This flick was very cute and handled it’s strange material very well, but I felt like it didn’t go far enough with itself. Yeah, the whole idea is pretty daring but this should have been a whole dirtier and racier, in my opinion. But you cannot go wrong with that soundtrack. Good review bud.

  2. Excellent choice for #200. I’ve seen and greatly enjoyed other Hal Ashby films (particularly Shampoo, The Last Detail, Bound for Glory, Being There, and 8 Million Ways to Die), but none of them compare to the chemistry found in Harold and Maude. Personally I’d give it 5 Jaguar hearses. … Two flicks I’d recommend to those who enjoyed the humor in HaM, and which star two of its cast members, are Robert Altman’s Brewster McCloud (1970, with Bud Cort) and Ken Russell’s Isadora Duncan, the Biggest Dancer in the World (1966, with Vivian Pickles).

  3. I am so happy to hear that Criterion has released this classic movie. I agree with you ‘Harold and Maude’ is about as original as they come and nothing else quite compares to it. David gave you a great list of other Hal Ashby movies, but one I would like to add is ‘The Landlord’, which is really good as well.

  4. This is one of those that I’ve heard the name a million times but never really knew what it was about so didn’t care to watch. It’s sounds terrifically dark though and I love dark. :)

  5. Congrats on the 200th post. Not sure I should admit this, but this sounds like my type of sense of humor. I’m adding it to my list.

  6. Nice review. I think someone is telling me to see this. I saw another review somewhere else recently. Do you think it has the tone of Fargo? I find that one funny in spots where most people might cringe.

  7. Oh, I love this film so much. It’s such a cute heartwarming little story, Ruth was absolutly adorable, somehow she and But Cort managed to pull out an amazing love story from a pretty hard base (reffering to the age difference). And I’m glad you mentioned Cat Stevens, I fell in love with his music during the movie. It macthed perfectly the tone. I gotta rewatch it.

  8. I love this movie so much. It warmed my heart. I know it sounds cheesy but that’s what it did.

    “To put it bluntly, Harold and Maude is a very dark comedy but it is a comedy if you have kind of a sick sense of humor.”

    Then I must have a sick sense of humor. The suicide attempts all by themselves were not funny but the fact that the mother couldn’t care less because she’d gotten so inured by his efforts WERE hi-larious!

    I love how this movie is so optimistic about life, specifically young lives. The last scene couldn’t be any better.

  9. Pingback: My August Movies Round-Up | Andy Watches Movies

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