Harold is young, rich and obsessed with death. Maude is a lovable a fun-loving 80-year-old eccentric. When the two meet at a funeral and develop a deep bond, they must reconcile their disparate beliefs about the meaning life.
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Unfortunately, Amazon streaming has determined that the ending credits, part of the magic of this great movie's ending, isn't available to their viewers. You are cut off immediately after the soundtrack cuts in. Apparently Amazon has chosen not to show the ending credits on anything except top tier movies. I call that grubbing.
I am 72 and saw this originally when it came out in 1971. I have loved Cat Stevens and his amazing soundtrack it this film forever. The characters in this movie are incredibly delightful and captivating and stay with you long after you the movie is over. I had my daughter and her husband watch it when they were in their 20's now I'm having my Granddaughters watch it in their late teens. I believe you have to have a little bit of a dry sense of humor but as I watched it tonight I was LOL once again. It just never gets old.
Harold and Maude is by far my favorite movie. Back in the late 80s I treated myself to a double feature film showing at the newly renovated theater 80. The theater retained it's old world charm. Harold and Maude was the first film to play followed by King of Hearts. I don't usually like romance movies but Harold and Maude is much more than love story. It is social commentary that transcends today. Two unlikely people from opposite frameworks fall in love. Harold, a young well off, young and bored man is fond of death. He drives a hearse and fakes his death regularly. His well meaning mom is desperate to set him up with a suitable young woman. Harold is lost but found by Maude. Maude is an old gal wonderfully played by Ruth Gordon, who finds Harold at a funeral of a person who is a stranger to them both. Harold who is contemplating death at the beginning of his life and Maude at the end of hers celebrating life make for a bittersweet story The pair of them set off on adventures. Harold's mom makes several hilarious attempts to sway Harold away from Maude. In Maude's trailer overlooking Coney island Harold discovers love and intimacy. This incredibly emotionally and intellectually deep film has the works of Cat Stevens for music. Years ago i sat my young step daughter down to watch this film. She was reluctant. When the film came to a close she said it was the best movie she ever saw. For days on end she talked about the plot. Give it a try, you won't be disappointed.
Reviewed in the United States on December 24, 2019
“Harold and Maud” was a staple of Atlanta’s only art theater in the ‘70’s. Seemed like every time the money box was depleted, the coffers could be replenished by bringing back this classic, first released in 1971. The director is Hal Ashby. I helped contribute to the coffers a couple of times, way back then, but have not seen the film in four decades.
With “The Graduate” being the prototype for all subsequent “cougar” movies, “Harold and Maude” has to be the one for “summer-winter” romances. Harold is twenty years old, with an overbearing mother, in a super-rich family. He is drifting through life, unmoored, with a fascination with death. He loves faking suicides, and he has a hobby of attending funerals of complete strangers. That hobby is shared by Maude, played by the delightfully feisty Ruth Gordon, age 79. The songs of Cat Stevens, before he became Yusef Islam, make a wonderful contribution to this film. Only upon this viewing of the movie did I realize that a much younger Tom Skerritt, of sheriff fame in “Picket Fences,” would play the befuddled motorcycle cop.
After establishing some rapport at strangers’ funerals, Harold and Maude would become true soul mates once he enters the eclectically furnished boxcar that is her home. Maude started life in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Ever so fleetingly, the tattoo that is her serial number is shown, but no reference to her survival of the turmoil and evil of the first half of Mitteleuropa’s 20th century is mentioned again. She models nude, at that delightful age of 79, and the movie makes clear they have consummated their relationship. One of the more memorable scenes is the priest decrying the “commingling with that withered flesh.”
For sure, there is a strong streak of anti-authoritarianism in the movie, a fitting theme for just beyond the ‘60’s. That theme is more difficult to imagine now. Harold revolts against mom’s plans for his life. Maud gives all the relatively good-natured cops a run for their money. And in one scene, a “holy trinity” of authoritarian figures, Nixon, Freud and the Pope, are all pictured in large frames on the wall, behind the jerks who rely on such guidance.
Maud sighs: “You make me feel like a schoolgirl,” and prods: “otherwise you got nothing to talk about in the locker room.” At times I felt it was a bit too slapstick, a bit too “trop,” to be redundant, but I found that Cat Stevens would rush to the rescue with a bit of toe-tapping music, for, you see, “If you want to be free, be free, …there is a million things to be…” Feisty Ruth, in real life, would make it to the age of 88, bless her, a bit more than her self-imposed allocation in the movie. On the third viewing, four decades later, I’ll still hold with 5-stars, for this iconic movie.
I have seen this over and over since it first played in Boston about 45 years ago. It is still hilarious with its dark humor, touching love interest and insight to the phyche of viewing the world a bit differently. A true American Classic in the best sense. Ruth Gordon is an amazing actress, young Cort was an underrated actor who had been a tween heartthrob and is allowed to shine in this film. The storyline, the editing, the supporting actors are all superb, which is rare in one film. A film a thinking person with a bit skewed view of the world around them would thoroughly enjoy.
I ordered this movie for viewing because i missed it when it came to the theater. It's a true time capsule, full of ideologies, events, and items that really existed. Funny, somewhat relatable, believable script and great acting for this period in time. The plot was not accepted then nor now (for women) but all things are possible for many different reasons. Take it lightly and be open to the relative situations in this film.
5.0 out of 5 stars70s Cult Classic - An Absolute Gem of a Film
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 20, 2017
The product I bought is a Region 1 DVD which will not play on most standard European devices. This was clearly stated in the description and I was fully aware of it at the time of purchase. Make sure you read the product description carefully before ordering to avoid disappointment.
The film has become a veritable cult classic since its release in 1971. It's a hilarious black comedy and the ultimate May-December romance all rolled into one. Harold is twenty, spoiled, filthy rich, and bored with life. Maude is a lively lady in her very late seventies. They meet at a funeral and form an unlikely friendship from the moment the free spirited Maude goes joyriding in Harold's private hearse. Everything about the film is utterly outrageous, from the characters, their relationship and Harold's macabre "hobby" to Maude's utter disregard for conventions and property.
Harold is played by Bud Cort, Maude by the wonderful Ruth Gordon. Both deliver delightfully OTT performances. It's cheesy, it's campy, it's funny as hell, it's one of the most enjoyable films I've ever seen. An absolute gem. The Cat Stevens soundtrack is legendary to boot.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 23, 2015
Harold and Maude is one of our great modern fairy tales. A cult classic in the Seventies, it’s now a timeless romantic document, its message simple in the way all fairy tales are. It says love and freedom are two sides of the same coin. Where one is absent, so is the other, neither able to exist in isolation without the other. Some may call this a romantic conceit, others a fact of life. I happen to be in the latter camp. The love shown in this film is one that sets a person free.
Maude is 79, nearing her 80th birthday. But in spirit she’s a teenager again, living wildly, spontaneously, irresponsibly. For kicks she joy rides, stealing cars, driving recklessly, burning rubber with police sirens wailing behind her. She also goes to funerals, enjoying their symbolism and solemnity — the pious church sermon, the hymns and organ music, the mourners in black, the sealed casket, the hearse and chauffeur, the mumbled religious homilies and tears falling over the open grave. She isn’t there to mock death. She’s there to face it without flinching.
Harold is 18 and likes funerals too, but for different reasons. He’s pale, impassive, morbid, a corpse in the making. He hates his mother, himself, life. He wants to die but hasn’t quite worked out how it will happen. But to that literal end he’s practising. His lone hobby, apart from attending funerals, is staging mock suicides. He’s the victim, his mother the unwitting spectator. In this endeavour he’s quite imaginative. He hangs himself, slashes his wrists in the bath, lops off a hand with a meat cleaver, shoots himself in the mouth with a handgun, sets himself on fire in the back garden and commits ritual hara kiri with a sharp samurai sword, seemingly disemboweling himself. He also floats face down in the family swimming pool, holding his breath for superhuman amounts of time in an effort to appear dead. These attention-getters are a cry for Mama’s absent love. In lieu of this missing emotion, she showers wealthy gifts on him. For instance, she buys him a flashy sports car to make him feel sporty, but we know Harold: he takes a welder’s torch to it and converts it into a hearse. So, he’s the lonely rich boy with no father, siblings, friends, mother’s love and self-esteem, an unhappy lad who longs for death but hasn’t yet bucked up the courage to top himself.
Maude lives in an old abandoned railway carriage with an odd assortment of collected things: stuffed animals, flowers, musical instruments, and a machine that replicates fragrances, or what she calls her odorifics. “Snowfall on 42nd Street,” for instance, is a smell to experience by breathing in air from a canister so named, thus transporting winter in New York to sunny California. Eccentric may be the telling adjective with her.
Death brings Harold and Maude together at the funeral of yet another stranger. “Did you know him?” they ask one another, then seem to bond over the surprising answer of “no”, each preferring the concept of death over any thoughts of the departed (whom they didn’t know anyway). In this way death acts as go-between in their friendship, one which will quickly blossom into love for Harold, as Maude is the only sentient and creative being he has ever met. Her motto, or one of them, is to “aim above morality” so as to “not miss out on the fun.” Needless to say, fun has forever been an alien concept and experience in Harold’s life. Education for him was boarding school. Home is prison. Friends don’t exist, nor did love till now.
Harold visits Maude’s railway carriage. He loves it. It feels like home, a real home. The objects inside are unique, interesting, personal. They all have stories behind them which Maude, forever happy to talk, generously informs Harold of. He’s fascinated. For the first time he’s interested in something other than death. Naturally, he falls in love with Maude. Age is meaningless, spirit and character everything. Maude is flattered, but keeps things light and platonic. Instead of lovemaking, they do other things together. They uproot a tree from the city and drive it to a forest to replant it where, in Maude’s words, “it can breathe again.” They steal cars and joyride together. They even steal a police motorcycle from a cop and leave the officer standing in their dust. They have a picnic. They eat and drink and talk to the birds. Harold yells like Tarzan and does somersaults. Then, overjoyed, he carries Maude on his back and runs through a field. For the first time in his life he’s alive and conscious of it. Love has rescued and transformed him, which is one of love’s greater attributes. He also plays the banjo, a musical instrument Maude has given to him. And of course they still go to funerals, sitting through the dreary church services and standing in the rain at cemeteries.
But things at home are as bad as ever for Harold. In fact, they are getting worse. Mother is worried about Harold. She thinks his suicidal antics have been going too far. It’s one thing to be a wise-aleck teenager with a morbid sense of humour, but another to remain stunted and not face up to certain adult responsibilities. Such as marriage, Mama informs him. To this end a string of computer dates from a dating service parade through their opulent mansion. They all love the building, setting, landscaping, decor, atmosphere. They even pretend to like Harold — the boy who cannot laugh or smile or even speak intelligibly above a mumbled monotone. Cold fish or not, Harold is popular. All the young women profess to be keenly interested in him. That is, until Harold pulls the trigger again with the gun to his head or pulls off some other seemingly deadly prank in their midst.
Mother’s patience is shredded. Harold’s weekly visits to a shrink are not going well. The psychiatrist can make no headway because Harold remains clammed up. In desperation, she thinks his Uncle Victor, a military man, can talk him into joining the army. This fails. Harold pretends to be a gung-ho lunatic who wants to shoot, scalp, dismember and eat the enemy. Even for Uncle Victor, a red-white-and-blue racist and jingoist, this is too much. Uncle Victor declares Harold unfit for duty.
Harold is a nowhere man, a loser and misfit. Even his put-upon mother is coming to this awful, inconsolable conclusion. But just when all seems lost Harold astonishes everyone by announcing his engagement to Maude. His mother can’t believe it and demands to see her photo. Harold has one, a recent one. His mother nearly faints. The psychiatrist, priest and Uncle Victor are equally appalled. They knew Harold was eccentric, far from normal, but this prank takes the cake. Yet the joke we’re in on and they’re not is that it’s no joke this time. Harold loves Maude, truly loves her, and throughout the course of this magical film we see how and why this could be.
Maude loves him too, she tells him. But her love is very democratic, not reserved solely for him. In fact what she loves even more than Harold is life itself. The funerals are a reminder of this for her — a way of remembering all that she has and has experienced. She is happy, content, at peace — all the things Harold isn’t but may become by learning from her.
In some fairy tales the frog is transformed into a prince but cannot remain a prince. In the end he returns to his modest lily pad in the pond. So it is in this one too. The great and only love of Harold’s life cannot last because Maude cannot last on Earth. A crisis of life and death happens and Harold is forced to face it. He must choose.
It’s an old film (1971) and Cat Stevens sings throughout on the soundtrack. His songs are hippyish and optimistic. He was in the flower power crowd and rode the peace train with his hard-headed woman to a place where all the children could play and have tea with the tillerman. Harold learns to play one of his songs on the banjo. He is not proficient at it, but he pegs away, wanting to learn, to sing and dance, to click his heels. And in the end, this is what he sings as the credits roll by:
If you want to sing out, sing out If you want to be free, be free Cos there’s a million things to be You know that there are
Harold (Bud Cort), so um die 20 Jahre jung, ist ein merkwürdiger junger Mann. Manchmal glaubt man, er sei noch ein Knabe, er sieht nämlich so aus und so benimmt er sich auch. Schlimm... Und hat sehr eigenartige Hobbys, die uns am Beginn erschrecken. Er insziniert öfter seinen "Tod" mit diversen Theaterrequisiten. So hängt er sich an..., als seine Mutter, Mrs. Chasen (Vivian Pickles) hineinkommt. Sie sieht ihn überhaupt nicht mehr an, sagt nur genervt, er möge endlich DAMIT aufhören.
Sie schickt ihn zu seinem Onkel, einem General, der ihm die Armee schmackhaft machen sollte. General Victor Ball (Charles Tyner) ist jedoch ein abschreckendes Beispiel für seine Zwecke und Harold kann sich ganz gut gegen die Idee der beiden wehren. Nach dem Bild auf der Wand, sind wir in der 70. Jahren, so wissen wir, wohin Harold gehen würde.
Dann muß Harold zum Psychiater (George Wood), der total versagt. Es könnte komisch sein, wäre der Psychiater ein bisschen klüger und wärmer. So wendet er Psychoanalyse bei einem sehr klugen junegen Mann, der ihn sofort durchschaut. Eine "Schande", fast für die Wissenschaft...Eine Analyse für den Arzt, das wäre besser.
Harold liebt Begräbnisse und besucht sie regelmäßig, so, wie die anderen die Partys oder die Filmvorstellungen. Es interessiert ihn nicht, wer der Verstorbene ist/war. Die Familie ist sehr reich (der Vater fehlt natürlich, ist gestorben), so kann sich Harolt locker einen Wagen kaufen, der einmal ein "Leichenwagen" war... Die Mutter ist geschockt, sie würde ihm moderne, schnelle Autos kaufen (und macht das auch). Sie "präsentiert" ihm auch drei Mädchen, weil sie der Meinung ist, Harold sollte heiraten...Uf, wird das spannend.
Bei einem von Bergräbnisse trifft Harold eine ältere Frau, eine Dame, Maude (Ruth Gordon) die sehr neugierig zu sein scheint. Sie fragt ihn viel und erzählt ihm auch die Teile ihres Lebens. Sie wird bald 80 Jahre, sieht aber deutlich jünger. Sie ist eine bemerkenswerte Frau, die ihr Leben einfach mit Freude, mit Würde meistert und geniesst! Sie sagt zu Harold: Nein, die Menschen sind nicht tot, sie ziehen sich nur zurück...
Und Harold sagt: ich mag Dich, Maude....ich Dich auch, Harold, antwortet sie.
Die beiden erleben ganz "spezielle" Tage, sie fahren die Wagen, die sich Maude immer ausleiht. Die Dame ist begeistert von vielen Sachen, sie zeigt peu a peu Harold eine Welt, die er nie gesehen hat... Zwischen den Zeilen erzählt sie auch über die Vergangenheit, über ihr Leben in Wien (noch vor dem ersten Weltkrieg...), von ihrer Aktionen...und die beiden finden zueinander...
Die Geschichte ist so perfekt, dass mir hier die Worte fehlen...Die LIEBE kann man hier nicht mit Sätzen erklären, man braucht eine andere Dimension, die man bekommt, wenn man Harold und Maude, Maude und Harold in ihrer gemeinsamen Zeit erlebt...Maude so schön, ihre Augen funklen, ihre Mimik, ein einzigartiges Spiel der Gefühle...Wenn sie lacht, lächelt die Welt...
Hal Ashby als Regisseur, sehr gut, der Film ist aus dem Jahr 1971. Ruth Gordon war damals um 75 Jahre JUNG, Bud Cort un 23. Wer jünger war/ist, das wissen wir sofort. Eine Geschichte, die sich tief in unser Unterbewusstsein versteckt, die man nach Jahren wieder neuentdeckt. Und, sie verliert NICHTS. Sie bekommt die wunderbare Patina, die für die Qualität notwendig ist.
Und, dann Cat Stevens, er hat die Musik geschrieben. Haben Sie sie je gefragt, wo man das Lied "Where Do the Children Play?" HIER, und natürlich das "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out". Man braucht nichts mehr zu schreiben. Wieviel Sterne? Gibt es eine Zahl...unendlich, danke Maude, danke Harold, mit Euch habe ich heute sowohl gelacht wie auch geweint.
3.0 out of 5 starsNot Ashby's best film. Good idea for a story, but too much music to sustain its unfolding
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 8, 2015
Maybe a too overrated film. Surely ironic, brilliant, even thoughtprovoking but the point is that its weakness lies right where it should give its best: in the lyricism of the relationship, which would work fine if it's all focused on the reversed contrast between suicidal youth and lively old-age, but it actually gets boring and frankly cheap since it relies too much on an abuse of music meant to comment and back every single scene, resulting in a series of tableaux, of detached scenes that start and end with a song, but do not really make you feel their sentiment and the bittersweetness of their offbeat story.
Hal Ashby did better things (Being There, Last Detail, Shampoo). Here he looks too much like a common hippy director
5.0 out of 5 starsWonderful Story! You must watch it!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 26, 2016
This is another movie that I saw a long time ago and always remembered it as it touched me deeply. So glad I could get the DVD and have the opportunity to watch it again. Brilliant story a friendship between two extremely different people who were able to find a common goal. Loved it! I don't think this film would be made now. Both great actors specially Ruth Gordon she was wonderful in it.