In his second feature as a director after his Oscar-winning success as an editor, Hal Ashby complements Colin Higgins’ script (adapted by Higgins from his own student short) with an affectionately non-judgmental view of quirky behavior and a distaste for institutions of authority.
In their deft hands, Harold Chasen may be weird – but his mother and army general uncle are plain nuts. Paramount appeared nonplussed as to how to market the film, and it opened to scathing reviews and died a rapid first-run death, as few viewers seemed to care for the idea of a youth lusting after a grandmother.
But, caught up in a generational revolt of their own, college audiences responded passionately to the message of doing your own thing regardless of what church, state, and Mom say. Harold and Maude became the cult hit of the 1970s, reportedly playing in one Minneapolis theater for three straight years, with fans who claimed to have seen it 100 or more times.
With Harold’s humorously creative suicides and a screen romance that defines “unique,” Harold and Maude was not only a cult sensation but also the kind of innovative, idiosyncratic early-’70s filmmaking briefly made possible in the wake of out-there hits like Easy Rider (1969) and MASH (1970).
Subtitles:English, English for the Hearing Impaired, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish (VobSub)