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Harold and Maude

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A teenager with a death wish and a 79-year-old high on life find love in Hal Ashby's cult black comedy. Deadpan rich boy Harold (Bud Cort) keeps staging elaborate suicide tableaux to get the attention of his mother (Vivian Pickles), but she keeps planning his brilliant future for him instead. Obsessed with the trappings of death, Harold freaks out his blind dates, modifies his new sports car to look like a mini-hearse, and attends funerals, where he meets the spirited Maude (Ruth Gordon). An eccentric to the core, Maude lives exactly as she pleases, with avid collecting and nude modeling among her many pursuits. To the disgust of Harold's relatives and the befuddlement of Harold's shrink, Harold falls in love with her. As lilting Cat Stevens tunes play on the soundtrack, Maude teaches Harold a valuable lesson about making the most of his time on earth.

Starring:
Ruth Gordon, Bud Cort
Runtime:
1 hour, 31 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Romance, Comedy
Director Hal Ashby
Starring Ruth Gordon, Bud Cort
Supporting actors Vivian Pickles, Cyril Cusack, Charles Tyner, Ellen Geer, Eric Christmas, G. Wood, Judy Engles, Shari Summers, Tom Skerritt, Susan Madigan, Ray K. Goman, Gordon De Vol, Harvey Brumfield, Henry Dieckoff, Philip Schultz, Sonia Sorel, Margot Jones, Barry Higgins
Studio Paramount
MPAA rating PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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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Format: 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.
1 Comment 68 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By B. Emory on November 20, 2005
Format: 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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Format: 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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