Harold and Maude (1971)


It’s Best Not to be Too Moral.

My roommate, Richurd, recently returned from his vacation, and that could only mean one thing: I’m going to start reviewing movies much older than me again!  He decided to ease me into the process by picking a movie from as early as 1971 (the most recent movie Richurd has ever liked).  Previously, the only thing I knew about today’s movie was its title, and I assumed from that title that it was probably a love story.  But when I saw the cover, I knew that my assumption had to be incorrect.  That looks like an 18-year-old and an 80-year-old.  So what’s this thing about then?  Find out today in my review of Harold and Maude, written by Colin Higgins, directed by Hal Ashby, and starring Bud Cort, Ruth Gordon, Vivian Pickles, Charles Tyner, Eric Christmas, G. Wood, Cyril Cusack, Judy Engles, Shari Summers, Ellen Geer, and Tom Skerritt.

Harold Chasen (Bud Cort) is a troubled young man.  He occupies himself by being really depressing and faking elaborate suicides to get the attention of his mother (Vivian Pickles), who has gotten used to it and ignores them for the most part.  After one particularly disturbing and blood-soaked fakery, she takes him to a psychiatrist (G. Wood), and also sets about setting him up on blind dates so that he can marry and fuck off.  In the meantime, as Harold is attending a random persons funeral (as one does), he meets a 79-year-old woman who exemplifies the life to the death and sadness that is Harold; a woman named Maude (Ruth Gordon).  And thus the gross love begins.

There were parts of this movie I found interesting, but I can’t say that I liked it overall.  It was a little too weird for my taste, and a little too short on the comedy.  I think the weirdness is pretty evident; this is really a movie about an 80-year-old woman eventually banging a 20-year-old dude.  Icky!  That is not cool, movie!  But that happens near the end of the movie, so it wasn’t what hindered my enjoyment of the rest of the movie.  That was probably its failed attempt at comedy.  It had a moment or two – such as the army guy and his no-arm salute – but these moments were few and far between.  It was mostly just morbid, dark comedy, and that’s never really worked for me.  And love stories have only rarely worked for me, and never worked with age differences over 20 years.  I don’t usually catch hidden meanings in movies, but this one felt pretty obvious.  Or maybe my genius is amplifying.  Who knows?  Either way, I caught onto the fact that Harold was supposed to represent death because he was mopey all the time and obsessed with death, and Maude was life, and always trying to live it to its fullest.  But this was pretty obvious and then I just got bored.  Granted, my … interest? … renewed when Harold banged Maude, but it was not a happy interest.  Also worth pointing out is the music.  The soundtrack is definitely good, but also SUPER 70’s.

I had no issues with the performances in this movie.  They all performed well enough, even if what they were performing was sometimes boring and at least one time icky.  Bud Cort was a sad, morbid little kid, but that’s what he was going for.  Also, he banged that old lady in the movie, and I couldn’t do that, so big props to him for that.  And terrible punishments as well.  Don’t do that, man.  Speaking of which, Ruth Gordon was also good as Maude.  I only really had a few thoughts about the three prospective wives for Harold, played by Judy Engles, Shari Summers, and Ellen Geer.  I was disappointed by them because the only one that wanted to play along with Harold’s suicide gimmick (Geer) was not the hottest one.  Why couldn’t it have been Shari Summers?  He might have thought twice about charity banging that geriatric if she had played along!

I can’t say that I was won over by Harold and Maude, but I didn’t hate it.  I only hated that he sexed up that old lady.  That was just gross.  But the story was fairly compelling in its kookiness, although the attempts at comedy mostly fell short and it got boring pretty quickly.  I would say, though the movie is interesting and watchable, you can probably skip it.  It’s past the time when normal people would still find it all that innovative and funny in my opinion.  Harold and Maude gets “I would not say ‘benefit’” out of “Eeeeewwwwwwwwwww!”

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