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373 of 398 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In my All-Time Top Ten
The editor's review of this film is a fair enough description of the plot. One should add that, despite being made in 1971, the movie manages not to look dated, precisely because it makes such fun of the early 70s style, and that the acting by the three main characters (Harold, Maude and Harold's mother) is simply inspired. Ruth Gordon is splendid of course, while Bud...
Published on January 19, 2003 by Snow Leopard

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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "It's best not to be too moral. You cheat yourself out of too much life."
Hal Ashby's "Harold and Maude" is a story of a young man who comes of age when he falls in love with a passionate woman. While that generic description aptly describes many Hollywood films released over the years, rest assured that this outing is most definitely unique.

Harold Parker Chasen (Bud Cort) does not have the easiest of times relating with other...
Published on November 23, 2006 by Steven Y.


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373 of 398 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In my All-Time Top Ten, January 19, 2003
By 
This review is from: Harold and Maude (DVD)
The editor's review of this film is a fair enough description of the plot. One should add that, despite being made in 1971, the movie manages not to look dated, precisely because it makes such fun of the early 70s style, and that the acting by the three main characters (Harold, Maude and Harold's mother) is simply inspired. Ruth Gordon is splendid of course, while Bud Cort gives a lifetime performance, but it is the portrayal of Harold's mother by Vivian Pickles (what a splendid name for someone in the role) that has to be the most undercelebrated aspect of this film. Her breezy blitheness, outraged exasperation, and British sensibility are all just too wonderful.

But before I go on ...

NOTE: It has been been pointed out to me that since some would consider this review to contain spoilers that I ought to warn people ahead of time. However, I'll add that it's hard to say how much spoilers actually spoil this movie; spoilers may help to make the movie's wisdom more readily apparent on a first viewing. In any case, there are several ahead.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: Some Amazonites have complained that they encountered spoilers in my review despite presumably reading my disclaimer and warning (above) that there are spoilers in my review. I find this odder than some of Harold's mother's behavior, and it makes me want to ask, without at all intending sarcasm, "If you didn't appreciate the disclaimer when you read it, how will reading spoilers harm your appreciation of the film?" ... To paraphrase Maude: "Ah people ...." (They're my species.) ... Meanwhile, back at the review:

Filling out a dating questionnaire for her son, in response to the question "Do you find the idea of wife-swapping offensive?" his mother answers, "I find the question offensive." In response to the question, "Do you feel the women's liberation movement has gone too far," she replies, "It cer-tain-ly has." Even "Harold, eat your beets" is delivered so wonderfully that it's memorable. Eric Christmas also makes the bit-part of a priest into something delightful and memorable, principally by one splendid monologue.

But is this really a black comedy? Personally, I think of black comedies as being morbid and mordant, which Harold & Maude certainly has elements of, but also ultimately cynical. One should not mistake grimness in a film as a sign of nihilism; as the Japanese proverb runs, the ending is all-important. The film ultimately is not about an intergenerational love affair (surely the most "shocking" aspect of the film), but about Harold learning to embrace life. And it is precisely to make as effective as possible Harold's decision to live life to the fullest (rather than continue to prefer to be dead) that it is first necessary to make his life miserable.

As insanely amusing as much of the movie is, it is also full of profundity after profundity from Maude, who is a nearly continuous font of wisdom, with laughter and humor being simply the most crucial values in her wisdom. When she asks Harold what he does for fun, he takes her to a picnic in a wrecking yard. She replies, "I'll grant you, it has a certain something. But is it enough?" When Harold declines her offer of wine, she replies, "Oh go on, it's organic." And most beautiful of all, when Harold says, "I don't want you to die, Maude. I love you," she replies with perfect calmness, "Harold, that's wonderful. Now go out and love some more." If you've been caught up in the genuine spirit of this movie, the line will not seem like some breezy brush-off, but may instead bring tears to your eyes.

The scene of Harold's grief after Maude's death, intercutting silent images of him waiting in a hospital room and driving recklessly around the Marin headlands in the Jaguar he has converted into a hearse while Cat Steven's song, "Trouble" plays, is very well-done and sets up the climax of the film beautifully. Cat Steven's soundtrack throughout, in fact, is a splendid selection of songs, and certainly makes clear that, however morbid things might seem, this film is ultimately life-affirming in a very profound way.

Having watched this movie many, many times and having yet to tire of it, it seems to me there is more to it than meets the eye. And not just because, when Harold gives Maude an engraved birthday gift, she says, "This is the nicest gift anyone has given me in a long time," and then throws it into the San Francisco Bay saying, "That way, I'll always know where it is." And not just because one eventually notices, in the briefest of passing shots, the tattoo of a concentration camp inmate on Maude's arm. In the final analysis, it seems to me that Harold is actually already dead. That his theatrical suicides aren't faked at all, but also don't succeed because he himself is not aware that he's actually dead. It's probably more accurate to say that the director pushes the narrative to the point where Harold seems to be actually dead and not just faking, precisely to make his choice of life at the end all the more inspiring.

And inspiring it is. Harold & Maude is not (alas) for everyone. A viewer who is hidebound like the movie's priest, colonel or mother (read church, state, authority) will find Maude's sometimes gentle, sometimes brash mocking of convention more annoying than enlightening, just as the (not depicted) sexual relationship between Harold and Maude is the thing many people who miss the point remember about the movie. To this, Maude might say, as she does to a police officer, "Don't be officious. You're not yourself when you're officious. That's the curse of a government job." Or as she says, when the priest replies that he didn't like the way she'd painted his statue of the Virgin Mary, "Give it time. It'll grow on you. Some things take a while to appreciate."
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84 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb DVD production, July 19, 2000
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This review is from: Harold and Maude (DVD)
A lot of great movies have been poorly digitized or otherwise transfered to DVD without sufficient care and attention, but I was pleasantl surprised by the quality of this one. They found (or restored) a very clean and clear original print of the film and then digitally captured it beautifully. The soundtrack has also been enhanced with a remix of the Cat Stevens songs to take advantage of the stereo front speakers and the subwoofer. A wonderful movie, well presented.
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57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my TOP 3 Favorites!, August 12, 2000
By 
DANIEL E MILLER (Chicago, IL United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Harold and Maude (DVD)
Harold and Maude is just a delight to see. Somehow, the wonderful acting of Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort seem to get away with their relationship (which at the time, was QUITE a scandal!)
What is so great about this show is that it was written so beautifully and sensitively. I don't know of any other movie that talks about life and death in such a sensitive, but yet lighthearted manner.
My favorite scene is when Harold and Maude are in a daisy field and Maude says: "You know Harold, I'd like to come back as a sunflower most of all. They're so big and hearty. What would you like to come back as?" Harold responds by saying "One of these" (meaning one of the daisies). Maude says "How come" and he replies, "Because they're all alike."
Then comes the Kleenex box when she replies "Oh no, Harold, They're not all alike! You see, some grow to the left, some to the right, some have even lost petals, all SORTS of observer able differences . . . You see, Harold, I feel that much of the world's sadness comes from someone who is this" (she picks a daisy from the field) -- "but yet ALLOWS themselves to be treated as that" (gesturing to the entire field of daisies).
You can't beat this show for its marvelous acting by Ruth Gordon, especially. You will also never find another movie that can portray all of these intense subjects in such a carefree way that they seem commonplace.
Get this movie and watch it several times to really enjoy it. I've seen it at least 30 times, myself and have enjoyed it more and more each time.
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89 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic, November 20, 2005
By 
B. Emory (Wilmington NC) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Harold and Maude (DVD)
I had heard about this movie through friends but was never impressed by the story. A reclusive anti social kid who befriends and falls in love with an elderly (though young at heart) eccentric. I wrote it off completely til I saw a bit of it on television and thought it was hilarious and as it turns out I rented the movie and was extremely hooked. Harold is a rich kid with a high strung, selfish mother who tries anything to find a suitor for him, in turn Harold escapes from his home to overshadow funeral processions and memorials. At a number of these events, Maude is in attendence and she lights up the scene with her off the wall,and positively upbeat personality that horrifies and amuses Harold. After a while they become unlikely friends. Maude helps Harold live a little and in turn he develops true affection to Maude. With Ruth Gordon's charm and incredible acting abilites, and Cat Steven's classy soundtrack, its not hard to find yourself feeling happy and free after the movie is over. It really teaches you a message about being your own person and enjoying life.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SWEET!, October 16, 2003
This review is from: Harold and Maude (DVD)
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!
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do you enjoy knives?, December 28, 1999
By 
Barbara L. Baker "collegefilmprof" (Warrensburg, MO United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Harold & Maude [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Harold and Maude is my absolute most favorite movie of all time. I've seen it well over one hundred times since it was first released (right when I needed it, as a young college student). It not only is a scathing satire of the Army, psychiatry, and the Church, but also a funny black comedy mixed with an uplifting love story. Quite a heady brew, although not to everyone's taste, I suppose. Still, there are reasons why so many people love it. When I first saw it, I really identified with Harold, and his feelings of suffocation, despite his wealth. But I also wanted to be Maude, and still do. I also appreciate it as a film scholar, for it is one of the best edited films I've ever seen (although the cinematography is fading with time). I also think the Cat Steven score perfectly fits the themes. Having the film on video is a treat (I'm on my third copy, and I hope it will be on DVD in the next year or so).
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I asked my wife to marry me after watching this film!, May 11, 2000
By 
Scott A. Supak "supak.com" (Canyon Country, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Harold & Maude [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Perfect script, Hal Ashby, romance, social commentary... what more do you need?
I always tell people that Harold and Maude is the reason I asked my wife to marry me. We'd lived together for 5 years when I saw Harold and Maude again--for the first time in a while. I'd forgotten that at the heart of this black comedy was a love story. This script, reportedly written by a pool cleaner, with no formal script writing training, reaches into your heart and drags out the realization that love is blind. Harold, who is obsessed with death and destruction, finds beauty in life and the world through Maude. She opens his eyes to the beauty of nature while ridiculing the rules of a homocentric world. Beauty, Harold realizes, is not in the eyes of the beholder so much as it is in everything, no matter how small or insignificant. In one scene, Harold remarks that all the flowers look the same. "But they're not," Maude urges him. "They're all different." And therein lies the beauty of a busy world. Everything is beautiful, if we just take the time to look. Hal Ashby's genious as a director shines with this quirky script that wastes not a line while taking on huge social and political concepts with the playfullness of 80 year old Maude who teaches 20 something Harold how to be a kid again. My advice? Watch it, then live it!
Scott Supak
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful surprise, December 2, 2000
By 
cnyadan (Bavaria, Germany) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Harold & Maude [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I first saw this movie a few years ago, and when my friends described it to me as a "cult classic", I thought that I would certainly hate it. However, instead, it is one of my favourite movies of all time. This year, when I was in Europe, it was on television at 1:10am, and i stayed up to watch it, even though the entire thing was dubbed in German.
This is a wacky film, and i think it is one of those that you either love or hate. Even after all these years, it is not a relic of some "flower power" or "hippie" era, but stands the test of time and touches on themes that are still relevant to people nowadays, such as taking time just to ENJOY life, and not being too caught up in all of society's rules.
The acting is superb; the music is gorgeous - it's Cat Stevens, and it really fits in with the tone and the message of this movie; and if you want something different but fun, Harold and Maude is really worth a try.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You should be dying to see "Harold and Maude", May 15, 2000
By 
Gary Sokolow (Tallahassee, Florida) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Harold & Maude [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I have taken it upon myself to see many of the movies that I enjoyed as a young adult in the 60's and 70's. Some of them I remember as being great, but when I see them again, they're not so great. One of the truly great ones is "Harold and Maude" (1972). The movie has lost nothing for me, and if anything, is actually better now.
It is the story of a young man (Harold - Played by Bud Cort) obsessed with death, and his relationship with an older woman, (Maude- Played by Ruth Gordon)who is a complete free spirit. Maude is fond of funerals, but is more fascinated with the circle of life, not just death. Their relationship takes Harold on a journey to maturity that is full of humor and heartache. I was quite pleasantly surprised recently while I was watching "Something about Mary" that "Harold and Maude" was mentioned a few times as Mary's favorite all time love story.
This film is the ultimate black comedy. The music is one of the highlights of this great work. All of the music is by Cat Stevens. The music of Cat Stevens also plays through a larger portion of this film that most of today's soundtracks which may be made more to sell CDs than to provide mood for the story. Cat Stevens is also an artist that we can forget how much we enjoyed.
I showed this video to my sons (12 and 14), they even appreciated it. If you want to see a video that gives you a glimpse of a how we felt about life and death in the 1970's (and how many of us feel today) see Harold and Maude. You won't be disappointed.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "All the world dearly loves a cage. . . ", June 1, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Harold & Maude [VHS] (VHS Tape)
But not Maude! She shows Harold that the boundaries/cages of life are self-imposed. Without giving any more of the story away, I'll add this comment: This movie has as many quotable quotes as Shakespeare! Not droll, boring lines suitable only for high-brows, but food for human spirits that have been broken almost to the point of no repair. Maude liberates Harold and Harold makes Maude "feel like a schoolgirl." When your love for life grows weak, see "Harold and Maude." One more thing, I had never seen a "Mona Lisa" smile on any actor until I saw this film. After Harold's second date runs out of his house in horror, look at Bud Cort's face! Harold gives the Mona Lisa-smile at the camera while Cat Steven's music plays background, then he looks up at his mother's glaring face and the smile quickly fades as he then looks down. It would take any other actor HOURS to perfect that scene, but Bud Cort makes it look effortless!
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Harold and Maude
Harold and Maude by Hal Ashby (DVD - 2000)
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