Harold And Maude

on December 20, 1971 by BOXOFFICE Staff
   The love of a 20-year-old boy for an 80-year-old woman is the basis for a macabre comedy that borders on the distasteful but always manages to be entertaining in the hands of veteran Ruth Gordon and young Bud Cort. Director Hal Ashby, formerly an Academy Award-winning editor, displayed a similar flair for offbeat humor with “The Landlord” and doesn't let the situation get out of hand very often.

   Rich Harold (Cort) stages elaborate “suicides” to stir some emotion from his mother (Vivian Pickles). Fond of attending funerals of strangers, he meets and is befriended by Maude (Gordon). Also a funeral fancier, Maude is almost 80 and believes in living life to its fullest.

   Harold's mother's attempt to find a suitable mate for her son end in disaster when each date is frightened off by another fake suicide. His uncle tries to have the boy drafted, but decides otherwise after Harold and Maude stage a violent scene for his benefit. A psychiatrist can't penetrate Harold's world, either; only Maude gets through, her antics delighting and confusing the boy at the same time.

   Gordon fans will delight in her performance as an elderly lady with a youthful vitality. Cort's lack of emotion nearly makes his character non-existent at times, but his talent brings off many scenes credibly. The casual way in which he pretends to chop off an arm with a meat cleaver is a particularly outstanding example of this.

   Lippincott Books has published a novelette in hardcover of the Colin Higgins scenario. A&M Records is releasing an album of the Cat Stevens score. Both are good promotional aides. Initiate a tree-planting drive in honor of the Maude character.

   An Unconventional Story About Unconventional People Doing Conventional Things--Living, Loving, Laughing, Crying and Dying.

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