Thursday, February 6, 2014

531. Harold and Maude (1971)

Running Time: 91 minutes
Directed By: Hal Ashby
Written By: Colin Higgins
Main Cast: Ruth Gordon, Bud Cort, Vivian Pickles, Cyril Cusack, Eller Geer
Click here to view the trailer


Just so we're all clear, I HAVE NOT forgotten about the "January Recap", I've just been focusing all of my efforts on watching these final few movies and getting this season tucked away, so that I can start working on the next set of 100. Anyway, I promise it WILL get done, as soon as I finish up these final few movies, which will probably be Tuesday. Anyway - "Harold and Maude".

Harold (Cort) is a young man who is obsessed with death; visiting funerals for fun and staging elaborate suicide attempts, mainly doing the latter to get his mother's attention. His mother, Mrs. Chasen (Pickles), is a member of the bourgeois society, who enjoys giving dinner parties and fixing her Harold up on dates, trying to marry him off. Harold isn't at all interested in the dates his mother sets up. Later, Harold meets Maude (Gordon), an elderly, full of life woman who wants nothing more than to befriend Harold. The two meet while visiting funerals, something that she also likes to do, although for different reasons. Maude is grateful for her nearly eighty years on Earth and savors every minute of life, while Harold wonders if life is really worth living. Anyway, the two hit it off and form an unlikely friendship (unlikely friendships are the best kinds for cinema). After a while, Harold falls in love with Maude and Maude doesn't necessarily deflect his romantic interests. A perfect Cat Stevens score accompanies the film.

I mean, that's really all there is to it. They meet, the become friends, they become lovers, the end. It's a simple story and it works. However, I feel like I should've liked this one a little bit more than I did. Don't get me wrong, I really liked it. However, it just felt like it left me wanting just a bit more from it and I can't even put my finger on a particular flaw or a particular something that kept me from enjoying this one more. The story was perfectly fine and right up my alley. The Cat Stevens songs were also up my alley, as I've always enjoyed his music. The whole mood and atmosphere were right on and the story flowed along nicely, perhaps even a little rushed, if anything. Perhaps my main problem was a story that was just TOO simple. It was pretty cut & paste type stuff and while it was 1971 and not AS cut & paste as it would be today, the prospect of an unlikely friendship between boy and old woman isn't THAT unique.

I almost feel guilty or that I've crossed the line of being way too picky, because I feel like to pick on this movie is unnecessary. It totally works for the most part and I think almost everybody that watches it is going to love it. And hey, I really liked it too. I'm just saying that it left me wanting a little bit more. Gordon was great, Cort was really good and they managed to pinpoint a chemistry that worked onscreen. Whether or not I'd go so far as to consider it a favorite will have to remain to be seen. I'll definitely be thinking about this one heavily leading into the TOP 20 list and I'd say it has a 70/30 shot of making a "Ten Worth Mentioning" spot, this becoming something that I WOULD consider a favorite.

RATING: 7/10  Don't be surprised if every review I write from now until the TOP 20 is on the short side, as I'm going to be squeezing in watching movies and writing reviews whenever I can until then and may be fighting off tiredness in the process.


February 6, 2014  5:36pm


  1. I know a lot of people, including several movie buffs, who absolutely LOVE this film. I can kind of understand why they feel that way, but I just can't share the feeling. Like you, I like it quite a bit and have enjoyed it every time I've seen it. It's a really good, well made movie. It just doesn't rise to the level of reverence for me that many of my friends have for it. I can't really pinpoint why, but maybe it's just a touch too dark for my tastes. Plus the all-Cat-Stevens soundtrack is a bit much, even though I like his music in moderation.

  2. I was fine with all the Cat Stevens music, although I can see how someone might get their fill of it by the halfway mark.

  3. I've not seen this one for... a large number of years. (One of the ones I saw pre The Book, but allowed myself to claim the tick as I reckon I remember quite well)
    I loved it at the time.. This was one of my earlier visits to.. shall we say less mainstream films. Perhaps I need to see it again...

    1. I was definitely underwhelmed a little bit and again, I just don't know why.

  4. Ray, you bring up an interesting point that it "was one of [your] earlier visits to ... less mainstream films." I think most of my friends who love the film would be able to say the same thing. Which makes total sense to me - I can absolutely see this film opening people's eyes to what lies beyond the local multiplex and being an amazing experience. When I first saw it, though, it was "just another" really good movie.

  5. Andrew... sorry this is another of those speaking to (mainly) a third person posts.. please excuse.
    (But, hey, it's not private...)

    Thanks William.. It is always an added treat to Andrews posts when you join in.. and I really appreciate your direct pick ups on my points.

    I saw (briefly) something you said to me elsewhere.. you commented you had seen the Sherlock's.. The comment appeared in some sort of window, I had time to briefly read it, then I must have hit something and it vanished.
    (I'm really pretty rubbish at technology and electronic communication).
    I felt bad I hadn't replied,or even acknowledged you had taken the time to tell me.
    At the time, I was severely dissapointed with them.. The whole sollution to the fall was a cop out. The giant bouncy castle was, surely, not the answer (I think we are told that)
    The middle one was OK.. but I really groaned when YET ANOTHER dead person was (maybe) not dead at the end.
    Is everyone in this immortal?
    Anyway.. since then, on reflection I have certainly softened my criticism.

  6. Hi Ray (and Andrew),
    Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you on this. It's been a crazy few weeks for me, but now everything should be back to normal, so I can return to the movie watching and blog commenting.
    As for Sherlock, overall I was pleased with the new season. I still have mixed feelings about the increased focus on John and Sherlock's personal lives, but after seeing the full arc of the season my feelings are more positive than after the first episode. I really loved the final episode up until the final revelation. I totally understand your frustration with everyone seeming to be immortal, but I love Moriarty's character so much that I almost don't care that it makes no sense that he'd come back.

  7. Great to see you back William! Hope all is well

  8. Thank you Andrew for allowing this conversation.
    Yes, welcome back William...looking forward to hearing more of your comments.


SINS OF OMISSION - Entry #66: La piscine/The Swimming Pool (1969)

Running Time: 120 minutes Directed By: Jacques Deray Written By: Jean-Claude Carriere, Jacques Deray, Alain Page Main Cast: Alain Del...