Februrary 15, 2013
Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon
Harold and Maude is one of those special little beloved
like Frequency. Not everyone has seen it, but the people who
seen it absolutely LOVE it. In fact, I am guessing that the
feedback I get about this entry is going to be particularly
fun to read. This is one of those quirky little movies that
just sort of latch on to and rewatch a billion times over the course of
their lives. And what is funny is that I didn't used to be
that, but I just started to be like that fairly recently.
I saw Harold and Maude for the first time about eight years
ago and I instantly fell in love with it.
What is funny about this movie is the way that I first came around to
knowing about it.
people who are fans of Harold and Maude are fans of it because they
grew up with it in the 70's. Or because they just randomly
stumbled onto it one day in a video store because of its reputation as
an odd, weird,
and quirky little love story. Or they are fans of it because
parents liked it, and one day their mom or dad sat them down and showed
it to them. This is one of those movies that has never really
been a big mainstream hit (it never actually turned a profit until
sometime in the mid 80's.) And I don't think I have ever
seen it on TV. You will really only know about it if
somebody recommends it to you.
Naturally, the way that I first discovered Harold and Maude was
because it was mentioned in a movie. That's right.
movie There's Something About Mary (one of my favorites),
Diaz's character Mary mentions that her all time favorite movie is
Harold and Maude. And the reason she loves it so much is
in her words, "it is the greatest love story of our time."
Hmm, that's interesting.
Now I know enough about the
Farrelly Brothers (who wrote TSAM) to know that they don't just
randomly throw in movie references like that unless there is a reason
Harold and Maude must have obviously been one of their
movies. And this was driven home even further when Harold and
Maude is mentioned AGAIN later in There's Something About Mary.
time it is mentioned, it is when Matt Dillon says something along the
lines of "I only wish they made good movies these days. Like
did in the old days. Like The Karate Kid. Or Harold
Anyone who knows me can tell you that The
Karate Kid is my all time favorite movie. So now the Farrelly
Brothers aren't just mentioning Harold and Maude twice, but they
are also comparing it to my all time favorite movie??
In the middle of another movie that I am a huge fan of?
Well at this point I figured that now I had to see it.
So yes. It is safe to say that I only know about Harold and
Maude because of the Farrelly Brothers.
Wants in on Seven Minute Abs
If you have never seen Harold and Maude before, it is basically a
love story. Some would call it a quirky love story.
would call it a gross love story. People who have a
restraining order against Woogie would call it the single greatest love
story of our time.
It is the love story between Harold and Maude
this is the infamous movie where a young man falls in love with an old
lady. And as you can imagine, it is different than pretty
any other love story that has ever been made. It is also a
little difficult to describe to someone.
It is difficult because gross
off, I have to say three things about Harold and Maude.
get to the rest of the review I need to point these three things out
1. Lots of people call this movie a comedy.
Well I wouldn't call it a comedy at all. Harold and
is one of the sweetest and most inspirational movies I have ever seen
in my life. I mean, this is a movie that is so good that it
the way that I look at the world. I can think of dozens of
in my life where I once cynically looked at the world in one way, and
then I eventually changed my opinion and opened my mind because of
something that I remembered Maude said in Harold and Maude.
call this movie a comedy is sort of short changing it. This
is WAY more than just a comedy. Yes, the funny parts are
funny, but to
go into this movie expecting a comedy is not the best way to approach
If you have never seen it before, the way to approach
Harold and Maude for the first time is to expect it to be wise advice
from an old person on
the way you are supposed to experience life. It is basically
Maude handing down some very wise life advice. Go
into the movie that way,
look at it as a philosophical movie instead of a comedy movie, and you
will be quite blown away with how effective it is.
Also, learn how to play the banjo
The second thing that I would like to
point out about this movie is, despite the fact that I wrote "gross"
under the picture of Harold and Maude kissing above, this movie is
NOT gross. And it is NOT creepy.
In fact I would pretty much call it the opposite
of gross and creepy. Harold and Maude celebrates life and
celebrates the concept of being alive better than just about any other
movie I have ever seen. Again, if you go into it with
the right frame of mind you will just be blown away with how much it
changes the way that you look at the world.
when you listen to Maude.
words, if you see the pictures of Harold and Maude hanging out together
makes you not want to see the movie, you gotta get past that.
This movie is fantastic. It isn't creepy or
disturbing in the slightest. The reason that Harold and Maude
are a couple is, well,
because they are supposed to be a couple. The movie is so
and the story is so strong that it just kind of works.
Oh, and the third thing I have to point out?
Well I have to point out that Ruth Gordon (as Maude) is just
adorable. She is easily one of my favorite female characters
any movie ever. You watch this movie, and you listen to the
that come out of her mouth, and you experience life the way that she
experiences it, and you can see why someone like Harold would fall in
love with her. I don't see how -anyone- could watch this
the first time and not at least be somewhat touched by the way that
Maude approaches life.
Ruth Gordon was never nominated
for an Academy Award for her role as Maude, but I have
always thought that she should have been. This is one of
special little iconic movie roles that you see once and you will never
have watched Harold and Maude about a dozen times over the past ten
years, and every time I watch it I am more and more impressed by it.
And that is almost entirely because of Maude. She
is quite the inspirational little philosopher.
Ruth Gordon, the most adorable 80 year old ever
By the way, this won't spoil the movie or anything, but there is
something I would like to point out about Maude that I don't think most
people remember about this movie. In fact a lot of people
not have actually even caught it in the first place.
the most important scene in this movie is the one where Harold is
looking at Maude's hand, and she pulls it away. If you look
closely, you will see that she has a number tattooed on her wrist.
As in, thirty years ago, she was once a prisoner in a
They don't really spell it out in the movie,
but just imagine what Maude went through as a Jew in Germany in the
1930's, and imagine how close she came to death so many times way back
when she was a girl. There is a reason she appreciates life
way that she does. Her whole character makes sense when you
that she was once a prisoner in a Nazi death camp.
And also, fuck the police
Okay, I have talked enough about Maude. It is time to move on
to the other memorable character in the movie, Harold.
If there is one thing that most people remember about Harold and Maude
(aside from the storyline of a kid poking an 80 year old), it
is Harold. More specifically, it is the
eccentricities of Harold. Simply put, Harold Chasen is a
strange young man with a strange little fascination with death.
Oh, and how does he like to show off this strange little fascination
He is constantly pretending to kill himself just to get a reaction out
Harold pretending to hang himself just to get his mother's attention
Harold trying to shock his mother with a fake wrist slitting in the
This one is great. Harold fakes drowning and his mother
doesn't even bat an eye. She just swims right by him.
Yes, if you thought that the romance between Harold and Maude
was weird, just wait until you get a load of Harold himself.
And his death fetish. This is the storyline that
most people think of when they think of this movie. They
think of Harold constantly pretending to kill himself just to get a
reaction out of everyone.
Like the time he cuts off his hand just to freak out a girl on a date
Or the time he pretends to set himself on fire out in the yard
Or this one
Oh, and did I mention that Harold drives a hearse??
Chicks dig it. It's the shaggin' wagon.
So anyway, there you have it. Harold and Maude.
I'm not entirely sure I would agree with Mary and call it the greatest
love story of our time. But it sure is one of the more
memorable ones. Featuring a young man who is morbid and
obsessed with death, and an old woman who is vibrant and obsessed with
life. Without question it is one of the quirkiest movies I
have ever seen. It also happens to be one of the
Get a room, granny
This is one of those movies that everyone needs to see at
least once in their life. You just sort of have to.
It is way too good to be stuck in the status of a seldom seen
little cult favorite. I mean, just look at some of the IMDB
reviews that I included below. Check out all the teenagers
who watched it for the first time in the 2010's, and they immediately
fell in love with it. That is the power of this movie.
Harold and Maude might be old, but some of the themes and the lines and
the quotes are just timeless. Like I said at the start of my
review, there is a reason that so many people for so many years have
been a fan of this movie. If you are in the right frame of
mine the first time you see it, it just grabs ahold of you and you will
never forget it.
If you aren't interested in seeing Harold and Maude for the romance,
see it for the comedy. If you aren't interested in seeing it
for the comedy, see it for the philosophy. If you couldn't
care less about philosophy or romance or comedy, see it for the music.
Because Harold and Maude also happens to feature one of the
best movie soundtracks ever made. Featuring a bunch of really
good (and really perfect) Cat Stevens songs. It is almost
impossible to talk about this movie without talking about the Cat
There are very few movies out there that I could recommend any more
highly than I recommend Harold and Maude. Like I
before, it is a movie that is so good that it actually changed the way
that I look at the world. I could watch Maude's speeches
about life and about freedom and about being happy with who you
are and what it means to be alive a hundred times, and I will
never get tired of them. And I could watch Harold hacking off
his hand to freak out Edith Phern a hundred times, and it will never
not be funny. What an odd, endearing, beautiful, quirky
little gem of a movie.
Like I said before, you gotta see Harold and Maude at least once on
your life. And then after you have seen it once, tell a
friend about it.
This is one of those timeless little masterpieces that will
still be awesome fifty years from now.
Most people's reaction the first time they see Harold and Maude
favorite IMDB user reviews about Harold and Maude:
The reason movies exist!
- 29 June 2004
only saw this film quite recently but it hopped straight to my number
one film of all time. It is beautiful. Bud Cort is charming as Harold
and Ruth Gordon - dare I say cute? - is Maude. If I look like her when
I'm eighty I'll be out there nicking cars and fluttering my eyelashes
at policemen too! Maude wrenches Harold free from his morbid and lonely
existence to show him how lush and amazing the world can be and he
emerges from his experiences a happy man. This is definitely one of the
films that (along with say, Fight Club, American Beauty and The Rocky
Horror Picture Show) show you can be who you want to be, and you
needn't let anyone oppress you. It's brilliant. Everyone should know a
Maude. It has inspired me to buy a banjo and play Cat Stevens songs.
One of the most beautiful
films I have ever seen - 13 August 2010
and Maude has been one of my favorite films for a very, very long time.
Everything about this movie is just so wonderful and uplifting that I
have not one bad word to say about it. It is a beautiful film on so
many levels that I cannot even use words to describe how much it has
touched my life.
Bud Cort is amazing in the role of Harold
Chasen, a bored and wealthy young man who spends his time driving
around in a hearse, attending numerous funerals, and committing fake
suicides in front of his overbearing mother (hilariously played by
Vivian Pickles). One day, Harold meets an eccentric yet sweet older
woman by the name of Maude. She expresses a very rich and powerful
passion for life and living things. Soon, they become very friendly and
begin to escort each other on small adventures such as transplanting a
tree into the forest and playing a trick to get Harold out of being
forced to join the army. By the end of the film, Harold's obsession
with death has slowly faded away and blossomed into a beautiful love
for life, just like Maude. Ruth Gordon is my absolute favorite actress
and she is simply brilliant as Maude. Her words of wisdom and her zest
for different kinds of things never cease to make me smile. Everyone
should know a Maude in real life. Hal Ashby (who could very well be the
most underrated and forgotten director of all time) does an incredible
job of bringing Colin Higgins' story to the screen. Cat Stevens
provides an outstanding soundtrack that goes along excellently with the
overall flavor of the film. Harold and Maude is the movie that first
introduced me to his music, and I am now a big fan of his songs.
and Maude is definitely not a film for everyone. It requires an open
mind and a certain taste for films with a peculiar way about them.
Dark, zany, yet lovable humor abounds in this film. There are certain
scenes that always have me howling with laughter, regardless of how
many times I've seen them. It is a very touching and romantic love
story about two unlikely people falling for each other.
film is timeless, and so is it's heartwarming message. I will never
grow tired of this movie, and it will always have a very special place
in my heart.
harold and maude where
have you been all my life. - 23 August 2007
you believe i am 21 years old and only recently saw this film. i had
heard chatters about it but never followed through...until a few days
ago! and wow! how can this film have been made in 1971, it makes no
sense, and i know that the 70s was a particularly strong period for
American cinema but this film feels like it could have come from last
week! perfect performances, the music by the former cat stevens was
great, and the quirk of the storyline and dialogue was likable without
being alienating. there were just little hidden things that one could
take for face value but if you looked further you'd see a greater
substance. i loved this film. i loved this film. i loved this film.
without over doing it - 14 June 2012
am a teenager and my mother sat me down to watch this movie. I loved
it. It was strange and ever so slightly outdated but its message and
storyline was incredible. I feel in love with both characters and
was intrigued by their relationship.
It was definitely worth watching and it should be more popular than it
This will always be one of my favorites.
An original timeless
wonderful film - 7 January 2010
first saw this in an English class a few years ago having heard it was
a film I would enjoy and boy were they correct! I bought it a couple of
weeks after. It's quite timeless, my dad said how he'd seen it 20 years
ago and loved it just the same.
It's such a different quirky
original movie that is hard to get tired of. From Harold's unexpected
antics - "sucide attempts," his mother's ignorance towards a son who
would love nothing more than some attention from her, some bad blind
dates and then there's Maude.
It involves a lonely rich
different type young man with too much apparent time on his hands and
lacking a purposeful life. After meeting Maude at funerals where he
goes for fun, his life is opened up by this free spirited older women
who shows him love in its true form (not in any cheesy way at all) and
a well-lived life.
It's so classic and quite funny - thoroughly enjoyable.
lot of people enjoy being dead. But they are not dead, really. They're
just backing away from life" Maude says so many perfect quotes that
define humanity and in fact Harold's life up until then.
Cat Stevens soundtrack, so perfect, complete with feel-good catchy
songs you can't help singing for days. <3 "zoos are full,
are overflowing. ah, my. how the world still dearly loves a cage" A
Fantastically unforgettable loving comedy with a great message - a must
see for everyone!
This is the movie The
Graduate should have been - 29 March 2000
and Maude is a perfect movie. It's extremely well written and well
acted. It reminded me a lot of The Graduate, a movie which I liked but
felt was not all that special. Harold is much like Benjamin from that
movie, but he's such a jerk. And Mrs. Robinson is also completely
unlikable. Harold and Maude has to be the most uplifting film I have
ever seen. It is one of those rare films which makes you re-examine
your life in a positive way. I beg you to see it. One rarely sees films
of this caliber.
Overrated? I think not. -
19 January 2003
fell in love with this movie and its music within 5 minutes of its
start. The characters and their development was rather endearing, I
found myself accepting of a romantic relationship that would normally
make me ill, and as it ended, I was in tears. I was highly moved by the
story and intrigued by its depth. It is apparent that Maude enbodies
many Buddhist philosophies and Harold represents the search for meaning
in our lives we all face in different ways. To truly appreciate this
movie, you must view it several times to catch all the depth and subtle
messages it holds. Cat Stevens' songs also are filled with deep meaning
and intertwine Maude's outlook and approach in life. The movie and
lyrics succeed not only to amuse and touch our hearts, but also to help
us think in a different way and approach life with arms open. I highly
recommend that you see this if you haven't. It is known as a cult
classic, but should be remembered as so much more. If anything, this
movie is not given the credit it deserves to be remembered as one of
the best written, casted, and acted motion pictures of our time. Out of
5 stars, I'd give it 5.
A wonderful coming-of-age
film that everyone needs to see - 26 September 2005
and Maude is one of those obscure movies that not many people see, but
almost every one who does loves it. I saw the DVD cover with the bubble
letters and goofy font on the title, and I thought that this would be
some worthless screwball cheese fest. Boy, was I wrong. Rith Gordon and
Bud Cort give A+ performances, and the secondary characters are a hoot.
The end of the film is very bittersweet, and it sends across a powerful
message on life and how it's worth living for every waking and
beautiful moment. Cat Stevens provides an incredible soundtrack. See
this film, folks. It's one of the best and most touching, funny, and
lovable films you'll ever see.
A Movie That Actually
Influenced the Way I Think - 10 April 2007
Cort appeared in two of my favorite (and two of the quirkiest) movies
from the 1970s: "Harold and Maude" and "Brewster McCloud." He also
appeared in a cameo at the tail-end of "Sweet Charity," another of my
favorites. Given that little resume of movie roles, he has forever won
a place in my heart, as has this movie.
"Harold and Maude" is a
modest little masterpiece from Hal Ashby, and deserves to be viewed as
more than just an eccentric little cult hit appreciated by an elite
few. It's hard to think of another movie whose success relies so
entirely upon its pitch-perfect tone. Ashby's film walks a tightrope
between black (almost too black) comedy and sentimental (almost too
sentimental) pathos, but manages to blend the two perfectly to produce
something quite unlike anything else I've ever seen.
Harold is a
gloomy misfit with a morbid death obsession, who likes to stage his own
fake suicides in order to win the attention of his dithery and
oblivious mother (Vivian Pickles, in an uproarious performance). He
meets Maude (Ruth Gordon), an eccentric old lady with a taste for fast
driving and an unparalleled lust for life. Maude teaches Harold how to
enjoy the world around him instead of letting it slowly pass him by,
while Harold gives Maude someone to share her days with. It's an
achingly beautiful movie, in a low-key kind of way. Ashby is the king
of understatement, and everything, both the outrageous comedy and the
tender, sad moments, are delivered simply and effectively. He's got
great actors in a great story, and he trusts both enough to stand back
and let them work their magic.
Ruth Gordon gives one of my
favorite film performances of all time as Maude. It would be easy to
dismiss her role as easy, if it were not for those quiet moments when
Maude lets her enthusiastic guard down and we get glimpses of some
sadness in her life that she's made a willful decision not to let
overcome her. There are moments in this movie that actually made me
think differently about the world we live in. Just for an example,
there's a scene when Harold and Maude are sitting by a pond, and Harold
gives Maude a ring he won for her in a carnival. She clutches it to her
chest, thanks him for it, and then throws it into the water. Harold at
first looks outraged that she would throw his gift away. But she says,
"Now I'll always know where it is," and Harold's hurt look transforms
into a smile of understanding. If I could think about life the way the
character of Maude does in this movie, I know I would be a happier
"Harold and Maude" is a shining gem from the 1970s, and
one of those movies I just have to watch every once in a while. Along
with the two leads, there's of course Pickles' off-the-wall
performance, and very funny support from actors in minor roles, like
Harold's therapist ("sagging buttocks") and his war-crazed uncle. Plus,
there's the wonderful score comprised of Cat Stevens songs, which caps
off the tone of the movie beautifully.
favorite trivia about Harold and Maude:
* In all shots of Ruth Gordon (Maude) driving the hearse it is being
towed because Ruth Gordon never learned how to drive a car.
* The scenes in which Harold turns to look at the camera after
successfully scaring off his first date, and when he does "the finger"
behind his mother's back after she sees the Jaguar turned into a
Hearse, were not in the script, rather, they were improvised by Bud
When considering the role of Harold, Bud Cort asked the opinion of
director Robert Altman, his mentor. Altman cautioned that rising star
Cort might find himself forever typecast. For this reason, Cort turned
down the role of Billy Bibbit in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
Maude's picture frames are empty. In Colin Higgins's book, Harold asks
why she removed the photographs (the scene was not used in the movie).
Maude tells him they mocked her by their images remaining sharp even as
her memories were fading, implying that she is suffering from
Alzheimer's or a similar form of dementia.
eighties pop star Boy George is a big fan of this movie. When he met
Bud Cort on the set of Electric Dreams, his first words to Cort were,
"So you're the bloke who kept killing himself!"
* While watching
a sunset with Harold, Maude sees a flock of seagulls and refers to
Dreyfus. Alfred Dreyfus (1859-1935), a Jewish officer in the French
army, was wrongly convicted of treason in 1894, and sentenced to life
in solitary confinement on Devil's Island (a penal colony off the coast
of French Guiana). He was pardoned five years later, and ultimately
exonerated when the evidence against him was proved false. The incident
is seen by most historians as a revelation and indictment of French
antisemitism, and its implications for French Jews still reverberate in
France. The Dreyfus conversation coincides with Harold seeing Maude's
concentration camp tattoo for the first time, which juxtaposes two of
the most infamous instances of institutionalized European antisemitism
of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and strongly implies that
Maude had been a Jewish concentration camp prisoner during World War II.
The hearse Harold originally drives is a 1959 Cadillac Superior 3-way
model that is one of the most sought after hearses among collectors
today but at the time was considered nothing more than an undesirable
used car which was purchased for a few hundred dollars. The Jaguar
hearse was really destroyed at the end and no replica exists because
they only constructed one version for filming.
* One of my all time favorite cute "hey whatever happened to her?"
actresses is Shari Summers, who a lot of people will remember from The
Bad News Bears. She played the wife of Roy Turner, she was
the chick with the halter top who wore the skintight bell bottoms.
Yeah, if you grew up in the 70's you would remember her.
Anyway, aside from her notable role in The Bad News Bears,
the only other big movie memorable movie role of her career was right
here in Harold and Maude. She played Edith Phern.
Her picture is the one that I ended the entry on.
Even to this day I wonder whatever happened to her.
favorite quotes from Harold and Maude:
Tell me, Harold, how many of these, eh, *suicides* have you performed?
accurate number would be difficult to gauge.
Well, just give me a rough estimate.
rough estimate? I'd say
[savoring the thought]
That's a rough estimate.
Were they all done for your mother's benefit?
No, I would not say "benefit."
know, at one
time, I used to break into pet shops to liberate the canaries. But I
decided that was an idea way before its time. Zoos are full, prisons
are overflowing... oh my, how the world still dearly loves
earth is my body; my head is in the stars.
said that, Harold?
I suppose I did, then.
should like to change into a sunflower most of all. They're so tall and
simple. What flower would you like to be?
don't know. One of these, maybe.
do you say that?
Because they're all alike.
Oooh, but they're *not*. Look. See, some are smaller, some are fatter,
some grow to the left, some to the right, some even have lost some
petals. All *kinds* of observable differences. You see, Harold, I feel
that much of the world's sorrow comes from people who are *this*,
[she points to a daisy]
allow themselves be treated as *that*.
[she gestures to a field of daisies]
A lot of people enjoy being dead. But they are not dead, really.
They're just backing away from life. *Reach* out. Take a *chance*. Get
*hurt* even. But play as well as you can. Go team, go! Give me an L.
Give me an I. Give me a V. Give me an E. L-I-V-E. LIVE! Otherwise, you
got nothing to talk about in the locker room.
No. I communicate.
Vice, Virtue. It's best not to be too moral. You cheat yourself out of
too much *life.* Aim above morality. If you apply that to life, then
you're bound to live life fully.
hop in any car you want and just drive off?
not any car - I like to keep a variety. I'm always looking for the new
[more seriously] Nevertheless, I think you're upsetting people. I don't
know if that's right.
Well, if some people get upset because they feel they have a hold on
some things, I'm merely acting as a gentle reminder: here today, gone
tomorrow, so don't get attached to things *now.* With *that* in mind,
I'm not against collecting stuff.
very interesting, Harold, and I think, very illuminating. There seems
to be a definite pattern emerging. And, of course, this pattern, once
isolated, can be coped with. Recognize the problem, and you are halfway
on the road to its, uh, its solution. Uh, tell me, Harold, what do you
do for fun? What activity gives you a different sense of enjoyment from
the others? Uh, what do you find fulfilling? What
that... special satisfaction?
Harold: I go to funerals.
the stamped coin from the arcade out of his pocket] Here.
[reads the engraving]
"Harold loves Maude."... and Maude loves Harold. This is the nicest
gift I've received in years.
[she throws the stamped coin into the water]
[smiling] So I'll always know where it is!
[after spotting Harold hanging from a noose in the living room] I
suppose you think that's very funny, Harold... Oh, dinner at eight,
Harold. And do try and be a little more vivacious.
[watching funeral party] Who sends dead flowers to a funeral? It's
favorite scene in Harold and Maude:
I included a picture of it above, but it is the scene where Harold
hacks off his hand and his date (Edith Phern) flees the room in terror.
And then out of exasperation, his mother just shoots him the
most disgusted look you can imagine. Harold then turns to the
camera and smiles like he knows a joke and nobody else does, and along
with the music this is one of my favorite moments of any movie
from the 70's. Here is the picture again, since I do love
this scene so much:
at the IMDB
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