Harold and Maude (1971)

10 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great comedy/romance because it is different

Dark comedies don't work for everyone

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Harold and Maude

Studio:  Paramount Pictures

Genre(s):  Comedy/Romance/Drama

Release Date(s):  December 20, 1971

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


Funerals are the best!!!

Harold (Bud Cort) is a depressed teen.  He spends his days planning elaborate suicide jokes and attending funerals.  When he meets the elderly concentration camp survivor Maude (Ruth Gordon), they form an unlikely bond.  Harold has never met anyone like Maude, and Maude finds Harold someone she can actually talk to.  Can a young man and an elderly woman actually find love?

Directed by Hal Ashby, Harold and Maude is a dark romantic comedy.  The movie was initially released to mixed reviews but gained a cult following over the years.  The movie was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 1997 and a special edition of the film was released by Criterion (Criterion #608).


What isn’t funny about suicide jokes? Um…well…ok

Harold and Maude is outright bizarre.  It is a movie unlike most films you’ll ever see and that always is impressive…especially in a comedy and a romance.  Even over forty years later, Harold and Maude still has a topical feel.

Like The Graduate, the script for Harold and Maude has the idea of a doomed generation but shows every generation is damned.  Colin Higgins wrote the script for a thesis project and got it sold through connections…this makes it feel genuine in that it came from someone young.  The laughs are subtle, but the story really does make you feel that someone like Harold could find friend and even love with Maude.

Bud Cort was never better than when he was Harold.  He was a great casting choice since he just seems awkward and even younger than his character’s real age.  Ruth Gordon was talented throughout her career and found a boost at the end of her life after Rosemary’s Baby.  She showed her range in this film in that she was able to play such an annoying character in Rosemary’s Baby but such a likable character here.


Oh yeah…they go there…

The movie also looks great.  The Northern California setting is used to perfection and the movie is loaded with great music that ties the film together.  It is able to show the humor but it is also able to show the tender moment s like “the morning after” when Harold and Maude finally consummate their relationship.

Harold and Maude isn’t for everyone.  Some people can’t see past the “dark” of dark comedies, and Harold and Maude is one of the darker dark comedies with lots of jokes about suicide.  I recommend seeing it and I recommend seeing it more than once to get all of the film’s nuances.  Harold and Maude is a great film that deserves to be remembered.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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