on October 29, 2002
I know people who have visited Venice and Prague and seen only the graffiti. I know people who have watched Harold and Maude and seen only an affair between a young boy and an old woman. I suspect they're the same people, and I feel for them.
I love movies. I love a lot of movies for a lot of reasons. My "top ten" probably includes about a hundred. But if I have to choose one, I can never think of one more complete, sweet, amazing or satisfying than Harold and Maude.
on March 9, 2004
Here is a film that I just cannot get enough of, and, I fear, is grossly misunderstood by far too many people. A love story like no other, an inspired lesson in self-awareness and fearlessness in self-expression - this may fall into the "cult" department, but should be seen by all.
Unfortunately, the extreme May-December romance of Harold and Maude raises eyebrows to the point that many see only this aspect of the film - "Oh my God he slept with an 80-year-old woman oh my God" - but in actuality, this has so little to do with the film's message. It points out that love comes in all shapes and sizes, and most often when we least expect it. Also, that a friend of any age can open us to seeing the world in a new, more truthful light. Harold begins as an introverted, unhappy young man, whose only creative outlet consists of tormenting his image-obsessed, utter snob of a mother (thus forming the most hilarious visuals for the viewer). After meeting with Maude, his world rapidly opens to new discoveries, and a greater understanding of his fellow human beings. If you have any kind of heart, the final sexual union (relax, folks - we don't see the details) between Harold and Maude doesn't offend - rather, it warms the heart and soul.
The DVD offers a few treats - theatrical trailers, and, well, a great print. I feel that this is a definite must-own... it is truly an amazing film.
on June 5, 2004
Harold and Maude is an insightful, comedic and touching view of two individuals who are seemingly polar opposites. Ashby, the director, reminds the viewer that in death there is life and in life there is death and having a sense of humor is the best, if not the only antidote to both phenomena.
As many have mentioned, with a few dissenters, this is truly a wonderful film, full of irony and paradoxes. One falls in love with the characters and thus the film. Cat Stephens' haunting music provides a perfect soundscape to a film that will haunt
your memory for all time.
on January 30, 2004
"Harold and Maude" is not really a love story in the conventional romantic sense. It's more of a story about how one person can change another person's life just by being themself. Harold is a wealthy, bored, morose young man who gets his kicks by attending funerals of people he doesn't know and staging elaborate, fake suicides to rattle his mother. At one funeral he happens to meet Maude, another "funeral crasher". Maude, about to turn 80, is starting to wonder if her own death shouldn't be coming soon. The two quickly embark on a friendship (and, yes, even sexual relationship) which completely changes Harold's views on life. Maude is one of the greatest characters I've ever seen portrayed on film. At the same time daring and sensitive, childlike and wise, rebellious and spiritual, Maude is an elderly iconoclast whose fierce love of life has inspired her to free herself of almost all of society's restrictions. Frankly, she's my hero. At times touching, funny, inspiring and strange, "Harold and Maude" is one of my favorite films of all time.
on November 5, 2003
Everything I ever needed to know about life I learned from Harold and Maude. Mostly Maude, but why quibble.
1. As alike as people are, we have discernable differences.
These should be celebrated, expounded upon, enjoyed - not forced into ill-fitting boxes, for they make us what we are. Ignoring them is tantamount to erasing a person.
2. You're alive for as long as you feel alive; you're dead as soon as you stop feeling.
Maude knew this. She also knew that going out at the top of your game is far better than being ushered off the field, limping. Harold never realized he wasn't really alive until he had in his view someone whose life was in stark contrast to his own.
3. Loving one person means embracing love in general.
Go out and love some more! That's what Maude told Harold, though he refused to listen, initially. We cannot be decimated by love, only hurt temporarily. The real damage comes from not loving at all.
4. Some movies should be bought, viewed, viewed again and cherished.
Harold and Maude is one such movie.
on July 8, 2012
Harold and Maude is one of my favorite movies. I was really excited to own it on bluray. I didn't mind paying $40.00 for it, I figured there must be some really interesting extras or a booklet of something that would justify the price. A couple of interviews and some songs is all I got. Defiantly not worth the price tag. However the movie is fantastic.
on December 27, 1998
I have been raving about this movie for about 15 years now. To see it once is to see it dozens of times. I can recite it and still get something out of it every time. It is by far, my favorite movie of all time. Whenever you lack lust for life, see Maude in action. "I feel that much of the world's sorrow comes from people who are this.... allow themselves to be treated as that." Maude
I think we all have a bit of Harold in us that is waiting for a Maude.
May you find it.
on January 5, 2004
"Harold & Maude" must be my favorite movie of all time. I've probably seen it at least 40 times. Perhaps that's why the DVD wound up under this year's Christmas tree for me. Director Hal Ashby does a wonderful job with this offbeat flick. After winning a Best Editing Oscar for "In the Heat of the Night," this was Ashby's 2nd film as director to be followed by an impressive list of classics, "Coming Home," "Shampoo," "The Last Detail," "Bound for Glory," and "Being There" before he died of cancer in 1988. Not a frame is wasted.
Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon are magnificent as the leads in this unlikely love story. Gordon who won an Oscar for "Rosemary's Baby" is full of life as Dame Marjorie Chardam or Maude. She gets the classic lines, "How the world still dearly loves a cage," and "It's best to aim above morality; otherwise you got nothing to talk about in the locker room." Bud Cort as wide-eyed Harold draws us inside his heart, despite the incredibly bizarre suicidal behavior. But as is referenced several times in the lines, "It's absurd"; and H&M is an absurdist film, showing alienation from society.
The richness of the film is reflected in the great care with the minor characters. Charles Tyner as Uncle Victor is described as General MacArthur's "right hand man," only to be shown as a military officer whose right hand has been amputated. Vivian Pickles is incredible as Harold's mother, one who lives in her own world. From the moment we see Harold hanging in the drawing room and his mother casually calling to reschedule her hair appointment, we know we are in for a very unusual look at competing values.
The three dates are each marvelous cameo performances. Will Geer's daughter Ellen Geer who has also played in "Clear & Present Danger" & "Patriot Games" plays actress Sunshine Dore (Door actually!) who commits hari-kari. Shari Summers as the wide eyed Edith Fern who sells chicken feed to not quite the whole Southwest gets to watch Harold chop off his hand with a clever. Cort's smile as she exits is a perfect Mona Lisa. Judy Engles who plays Candy and bubbles about majoring in Poli Sci as Harold apparently sets himself aflame is priceless as is her insane exit from frame. Eric Christmas as the priest who starred in other odd classics like "Porky's" & "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" is marvelously revolting as he tells Harold that the thought of his young flesh commingling with Maude makes him want to vomit.
Harold & Maude is so well loved for so many reasons. Maude's odorifics where Harold smells snow is magical. Maude's description of the lillies having so many observable differences when Harold comments that they're all the same is powerful, followed by her pointing to a graveyard and saying, "I think much of the world's sorrow is from people who are actually this (flowers), but allow themselves to be treated as that (gravestones, dead)."
The ultimate reason why "Harold & Maude" is considered classic by so many is that it touches universal truths in our hearts. Some can't get beyond the older woman, younger guy thing; and that's a shame. Many of us will watch it another 40 times with equal delight! Enjoy!
on November 11, 2003
In one of THE original cult movies (4 years before ROCKY HORROR & 7 years before BLOODSUCKING FREAKS) Bud Cort plays 20 year old Harold, a young man who has a morbid fascination with death. For leisure he drives his long-suffering mother mad by enacting fake suicides to get attention such as "hanging" himself and "slashing" his throat and wrists, much to the chagrin of Harold's pompous mother who sends him to see a shrink. A true believer in the old "mother knows best" adage, she answers and fills out the questionaire for her son. So its not that surprising when we learn that Harold drives a hearse and for leisure he attends strangers' funerals.
However, one such funeral changes Harold's life forever. Its at one of these gatherings that he first meets Maude (Ruth Gordon), a 79 year old who is not your average crocheting, cookie baking Grandma. For leisure Maude likes to steal cars. And from here their friendship grows, with the eternally optimistic Maude encouraging Harold to embrace life instead of dwelling upon death. Their relationship soon blossoms into an unconventional, but true love; which again meets with mother's disapproval.
Written & Co-Produced by Colin Higgins, HAROLD AND MAUDE was unfairly overlooked on its initial release but over the years gained a strong following; and todays ranks as one of the very best black comedies/love stories ever made. Special highlights for me included Harold's efforts to escape being drafted into the army, and also Harold's hari-kiri "suicide" demonstration for one of the young women his mother has set him up with.
Both leads are excellent, especially Bud Cort; who was/is so convincing in his role that he found himself typecast for life- and some people really believed he was as "out there" as Harold in real life!! So poor old Bud was given the silver lining before the cloud! Hopefully one day some director will use his talents in the way he deserves. Ruth Gordon is hard to resist as Maude- she's probably the kind of Grandma every kid wishes they had.
Of course, the movie is also famous for the soundtrack by Cat Stevens which complements the film beautifully. If you haven't seen HAROLD AND MAUDE before then I strongly urge you to rent a copy. It's not for all tastes with its inconventional love story and its (often very) black humor; but this is one of those rare films that leaves you feeling alive and exhilarated after watching it and commands repeat viewings. Unless you're a P.C old prat who believes the "suicides" in the movie to be "injurious to the public good"(!!) and the idea of a 20 year old and an 80 year old being in love to be "immoral". (No prizes for guessing who I'm talking about). Maybe a little icky.
The DVD features aren't great, just a couple of different trailers for the film; but I can't recommend this movie highly enough. Put it on your must-see list. HAROLD AND MAUDE gets my seal of approval (Woop de doo, I hear you say) and despite being more than 30 years old it doesn't appear to have dated at all, and remains relevant today. Watch it and judge for yourself.
on October 16, 2003
If such an irreverently offbeat film were to be made today, I wonder how the putative audiences would react. As was probably the case when the film was released, people would probably find the theme edgy, if not inappropriate. This anti-establishment cult classic quite openly explores themes of suicide, love, death and life with a fresh perspective.
The interesting part is how this film will likely find you. In most societies, an older man will likely fall for a woman years his junior. Here though, Harold (Bud Cort) -- a shy teenager with an affinity for death -- meets his 80-year-old true love Maude (Ruth Gordon), not at a dance or social event, but at funerals.
I guess 'Harold and Maude' plays on '60s-esque themes of turning maverick, challenging societal moulds, denouncing materialism. The story is strewn with delectable humor, and thankfully is not of your average garden variety. Cat Stevens' open-air, acoustic-driven rock 'n' roll makes for a cherishable soundtrack giving the film an authentic organic sound indicative of its demeanor.
A great movie with a warm heart -- required collective for every self-respecting library!