Harold and Maude (1971) — A love story across the ages

“A lot of people enjoy being dead. But they’re not dead, really. They’re just… backing away from life.”

Clare’s rating: This movie is the reason I’ve always wanted, and will some day get, a sunflower tattoo.

Clare’s review: I wanted to review this movie because it is by far one of my most favorite films ever made. I thought that would make it instantly easy to encapsulate and explain. Fact of the matter is that this movie is really unlike any other I’ve ever seen. Because it refuses to fit into any specific genre it’s impossible to compare it with any other films. It’s a comedy, but a dark one to be sure. It’s a love story but one that defies definition. It’s a drama, but one that’s way too funny and romantic to ever get heavy handed.

Bud Cort plays Harold, a lonely death obsessed young man who spends his free time attending the funerals of people he’s never met and staging his own elaborate suicides. Ruth Gordon is Maude, an woman 79 years young obsessed with living life to its absolute fullest, who spends her free time visiting funerals of people she’s never met and driving stolen cars to get herself around town.

It’s really only a matter of time before the amazing Cat Stevens’ soundtrack works its magic, they meet and slowly, sincerely fall in love. The acting in this movie is really what makes it move from simply impressive to absolutely absorbing. The cinematography and editing are, although dated, used in some really amazing ways and the soundtrack actually supports the telling of the story instead of just setting a mood.

There aren’t any big explosions, huge secrets revealed or amazing special effects. It’s a simple, sweet well told love story for people who don’t like love stories. This movie may not be for everyone, but I for one think it’s one of the freakin’ best movies I’ve ever seen… and I’ve seen A LOT of movies. There. Now go rent it.

Justin’s rating: Mmm… them sunflower seeds is good!

Justin’s review: This movie is a sniffler. You know what I mean, it’s got that strange balance between perky and pathos that manages to bring a tear to our eye, a sniff to our honker, but a smile to our lips. Gee, that’s poetic. When I just watched this for the first time, I thought of shipping a copy to all the unrequited loves I’ve had.

Thusly, Harold and Maude necessitates having a loved (or want to be love-ed) one by your side. Unfortunately, PoolMan was over for the day, so there was football fields of awkwardness on that couch. Just kidding! You know I’d never hang out with the help! Ha ha!

There are three main characters in this movie. The first being the morose Harold, who spends his time setting up fake suicides and trying to compensate for the fact that his face is really too large for its own good. The second is a quirky ol’ gal named Maude, who embodies hippiedom and the best qualities about being an old coot all in one. I honestly can’t wait to be an old coot myself… the things I could get away with. The third character is this guy with a guitar who keeps playing loud ballads in the middle of major scenes. You never see him, because he’s wily and too quick for the camera.

Harold has a hard time dealing with his emotionless life, and Maude needs a science project to fill up the spare time between being a Cosmo advice columnist. As they fall in love (yup, that age gap’s a killer, but the fact that Harold is no looker makes it easier to swallow), we get the sense of what a real loving relationship is like. Harold’s life up to this point has been his ultra-fake mother and super-military uncle, both of which have their own interests far above those of the boy. Maude is alone but not lonely, she’s just sees a kindred spirit.

I found myself snorting into my orange juice (mucho pulp for chewing satisfaction) as the film used subtle zany humor to its utmost, such as in Maude stealing any car she needs, or Harold becoming the Flaming Torch to avoid another computer date. In retrospect, I probably laughed more watching this at home than sitting in the theater viewing genital-profusive jokes with the patrons of Scary Movie.

I’m too lazy to read up on where they filmed, but boy is that landscape bleak. I seriously think the world during the ’70s was a much uglier place than it is today. Thank goodness we got Dolby digital and audio, huh?

Didja notice?

  • Harold looking at you
  • Tom Skerrit as a highway patrol cop
  • The camera crew reflected in Maude’s music case
  • What’s on Maude’s arm

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