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133 of 135 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Carbon on the Valves.
This comedy performance by Walter Matthou ranks with his best work, such as in The Odd Couple, Sunshine Boys etc. Unfortunately, not as many people have seen it, as this movie is a little-known gem.

I saw it as a second feature and almost missed it as I had never heard or read anything about it. We stayed, and laughed so hard I looked for it for years and...
Published on April 27, 2001 by Archmaker

versus
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Blu-ray version has been tampered with - it isn't the original movie soundtrack.
This is one of my top 10 movies of all time, but it never had a DVD release. I was delighted when the movie came out on BR but was shocked and disappointed to find that the idiots who did this release had CHANGED THE SOUND TRACK. The original movie had a somewhat sad musical theme when the Walther Mathau character loses his money, it underwrote the scene's poignant themes...
Published 23 months ago by E. Bryan


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133 of 135 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Carbon on the Valves., April 27, 2001
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: A New Leaf [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This comedy performance by Walter Matthou ranks with his best work, such as in The Odd Couple, Sunshine Boys etc. Unfortunately, not as many people have seen it, as this movie is a little-known gem.

I saw it as a second feature and almost missed it as I had never heard or read anything about it. We stayed, and laughed so hard I looked for it for years and told people about this odd film no one knows about.

Thank God cable aired it and it became available on VHS so I could recommend it to friends. The movie is simply hilarious.

Matthau is an arrogant, cultured, vain, selfish and rich snob suddenly finding himself penniless. His only salvation is to marry a rich woman and he finds the perfect target in the introverted and socially inept heiress/botanist played by Elaine May.

Matthau, dreading this intrusion into his perfectly ordered bachelor existence, decides murder of this ditz-of-all-time is the answer to all his problems. But, that is just the beginning to a very funny and ultimately touching story.

There are some of the best written and performed comedy bits in this film that I've ever seen. Starting with William Redfield as an accountant trying to explain to a willfully uncomprehending Matthau that he's broke; James Coco as Matthau's detested uncle extorting him over breakfast; Jack Weston as May's conniving and crooked lawyer/boyfriend; Matthau proposing to May while kneeling on broken glass; the wedding with May being given away by a blubbering Weston; the Honeymoon and the toga nightgown; May's disasterous household of thieving servants; and so on.

Special mention must go to George Rose who plays Matthau's valet and all-purpose manservant. He is superb in his dry, clipped delivery while conveying the man's undelying wisdom and empathy.

Okay, the ending may seem tacked on or otherwise not perfect but you can say that about The Producers, Blazing Saddles, and quite a few other classic comedies. I won't take so much as 1/2 star off for that. This is a Classic American comedy and should be seen by everyone. Don't miss it. And please, someone, preserve it forever by putting it on DVD!
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71 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WHY is this film NOT on DVD!!!???, May 7, 2006
This review is from: A New Leaf [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I'm very pleased to see a flurry of 'new'/er reviews of this film. I only hope the DVD gods take notice!!

10 out of 10 people found the following comment useful :-

WHY is this film NOT on DVD!!!???, 16 May 2005

9/10

Author: jim6263 from So.California, USA

I'll not recount the story, as others have. The lack of response and proper public recognition for this film my be due to Elaine May's very dry wit and wry sense of humor, which, I think, simply sailed over the heads of many viewers. And it's truly most unfortunate, as this is a VERY funny film (for those who are perceptive and appreciate the subtler and darker shades of humor and life)! To the dude who rated it a "1" (on IMDb): "A New Leaf" was nominated for 2 Golden Globes (Comedy -- Best Picture and Best Actress) and for the WGA's (the industry's official Writer's Guild -- i.e., her peers, other screenwriters) writing award for best comedy (from another medium) that year. No offense, but I value my own (and their) sensibilities a bit more than yours! And it's impeccably acted, as others have mentioned, filled with flawless comedic timing and wry, wry wit. Simply wonderful.
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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars She's unscrewing my Montrazini, May 19, 2003
By 
J. Figler "jfigl" (portland, or United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A New Leaf [VHS] (VHS Tape)
That Elaine May has directed herself in a film only once bids fair to become one of the mythic disappointments of film history, like the hostile neglect visited upon so much of Orson Welles' work, like the fact that "Night of the Hunter" was Charles Laughton's only film as a director, like Oliver Stone having access to film-making equipment.

The version here is not the film that May made. She attempted to no avail to have her name removed from it when the studio hijacked her 3-hour edit and decided that the cut we now have is the one that's good for us. Heresy though it may be to say so, if this version is butchery, the original must have been...the best movie ever made.

Henry Graham (Walter Matthau) is a suddenly penniless bon vivant who realizes he can perpetuate his extravagant lifestyle only by marrying, then killing, a rich woman. He sets his sights on Henrietta Lowell (Elaine May), a shy, painfully awkward, stupendously naive heiress and botanist who appears never to have enjoyed the romantic attentions of a man. This seeming pushover will prove to be, in a manner of speaking, an immovable object.

Henrietta Lowell is a comic character with no awareness that she is a comic character. From the moment she first appears onscreen (at which point Henry makes brilliantly cynical use of her klutziness to demonstrate what a terribly gallant fellow he is, instantly cementing poor Henrietta's devotion) until the final frames, she thinks she's living in a love story, a fairy tale, not a black comedy. Her innocence, which seems so to endanger her, will actually be her salvation. And Henry's too.

May's remarkably well-polished script builds from the ground up a world, its denizens, and the humor inherent in both. For instance: The improbably frequent, seemingly endless repetition of the phrase "Carbon on the valves" is just plain funny but also sketches, first, Henry's chronic negligence and then, when the lament is repeated by a fellow playboy, a whole subculture of "Henrys". Or: Henry's snobbish reference to Mouton Rothschild (the '55 is CLEARLY superior to the '53) prompts Henrietta to offer, ever so helpfully, that with Mogen David "every year is good". Very funny, but also nuanced; the exchange speaks volumes about each. Dodi Heinrich, the odd little flower girl at the wedding, is pure visual one-liner, but to Henry is a terrifying doppelganger of Henrietta come to torment the hysterical groom.

At the end, the viewer is just as startled as Henry to hear a contrite Henrietta say, "Henry...I know...that this isn't exactly what you planned...But would you mind doing it...very much?"

Maybe... just maybe... (writer Elaine May finally, teasingly suggests), Henrietta isn't as myopic as she seems. Having suddenly excavated this curious notion, May just as quickly buries it.
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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's all true., December 27, 2003
By A Customer
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: A New Leaf [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This movie is so clever and funny, that it is easy to miss the love story at its heart. It is one of my all-time favorite films and I've been evangelizing it for years.
I'm only adding this review to encourage lobbying to bring this film out on DVD and restore it to May's original cut.
So if each person who reads this will get the movie and show it to 10 friends, and so on, and we get a huge deman for the full three our releas on DVD, we might create movie history.
It is a crime that this movie has been so badly neglected since if was first released.
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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A triumph for Elaine May, September 28, 2004
By 
Kona (Emerald City) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: A New Leaf [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This wonderful, laugh-out-loud comedy stars Walter Matthau as Henry, a witheringly sarcastic playboy who suddenly finds he has spent his entire fortune. In order to maintain his current lifestyle, he decides to marry someone-anyone-who is wealthy, which is a problem, as he basically hates women. Henrietta (Elaine May), his chosen target, is a very rich, but socially awkward-in-the-extreme botanist, whose life's dream is to discover a new form of fern. Henry woos and wins her, then decides to dispatch her on their honeymoon.

This largely overlooked comedy is a coup for writer/director/star Elaine May. The script is fast-paced, witty, and (most important for a comedy) truly funny and the characters, while outrageous, still ring true. Matthau's acid-tongued Henry is so pompous and snooty, you can't wait to hear what he's going to say next. May's performance as the innocent heiress is touching as well as hysterical. The twist at the end will leave you very satisfied with this gem of a movie.

Kona
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Leaf Needs a New Life, March 7, 2005
This review is from: A New Leaf [VHS] (VHS Tape)
And what would this new life be for this small plastic encased fern of comic genius - A Restored Director's Cut DVD!

Otherwise what else can be said that has not already been voiced by all who have reviewed this absolute "True Classic" of cinematic satirical comedy. Walter Mathau is brilliant and I agree with all who feel that it is probably his greatest comedic performance. It is unfortunate that it was and still seems to be a sleeper in the film world. The fact that it is not in the top 100 of the funniest comedies of all time confirms this oversight.

But a greater oversight would be to continue to ignore this bit of celluoid genius by not preserving it in a beautiful DVD restoration of Elaine Mays original Director's cut.

Perhaps if enough "film buffs in the know" spoke out this would happen.....if only!
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be in the pantheon of American film comedies, June 14, 2000
This review is from: A New Leaf [VHS] (VHS Tape)
When the American Film Institute recently issued its list of the 100 funniest American films, I was disappointed but not surprised to see that A New Leaf had been ignored. It's been a neglected film for years, but no less hilarious for the neglect.
Walter Matthau is Henry Graham, an aging playboy used to high and fine living who suddenly finds himself destitute. What to do? The only solution, according to Henry's butler, is to marry a wealthy woman, except Henry is a confirmed misogynist, so the idea revolts him. Then he adds his own twist - he will marry the woman, get her money, AND then murder her. His quest for the perfect victim leads him to Elaine May, as Henrietta, an extravagantly clumsy and extravagantly wealthy botanist who seems the perfect foil for Henry's scheme.
This is a perfectly cast movie. Even the supporting players, such as James Coco and William Redfield, on screen a few minutes, are hilarious. Matthau has never been better or funnier. Pure exasperated snobbishness hasn't been so exquistely embodied since W.C. Fields groaned and grimaced his way through 1930's American comedy. May is Matthau's match, a sweet dolt who teaches Henry the meaning of true love.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It changed my life, January 24, 2006
This review is from: A New Leaf [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I saw this movie in the theater while I was in the last year of college. It is a wonderful, human movie that changed my life. I would certainly buy a DVD and would greatly treasure both the movie I saw thirty plus years ago or the unedited edition. Please do not let this little gem be lost to a generation in need of its graceful humor.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BEST UNDERRATED MOVIE EVER!!!!, May 13, 1999
By A Customer
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: A New Leaf [VHS] (VHS Tape)
"A New Leaf" is one of the funniest comedies ever made and is one of my and my wife's favorite movies of all time! We happened to discover it on cable one day and have been obsessed with it ever since. It's got truly hilarious performances from Walter Matthau and Elaine May, as well as from a number of great 60's character actors you're sure to recognize. Literally a HUNDRED laugh out loud moments! This is one of those comedies they don't make anymore, with a lot of perfect observational humor and character studies. This is truly a lost classic!
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best American film comedy of the last 50 years., September 12, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: A New Leaf [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Much ink has recently been spilt in boosting the so called top ten films of the 20th Century, yet again we have been told by the critics that Citizen Kane is the best film ever and that the loss of the Magnificent Ambersons was the greatest act of film butchery. Be this as it may, I have chosen to recommend a film called 'A New Leaf' which is not only much funnier than Citizen Kane but also has had the dubious honour of being cut by the same scissors as the Magnificent Ambersons whilst still surviving in the hearts of those who have been fortunate enough to see it. Please if any movie mogul types are reading put this film out on DVD with its cuts restored - if you act fast you might even manage to get a commentary out of the director and co-star before she drops dead.
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A New Leaf
A New Leaf by Elaine May (DVD - 2012)
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