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Harold and Maude Movie

Updated on January 6, 2015

Harold and Maude | Cult Comedy Film of 1971

The first time I saw the film "Harold and Maude" was at a theater in the Haight of San Francisco in 1971, where the movie was originally filmed.

I had just gotten back to the city (San Fransico) from a six month stay in Mexico and was going to be there for a few weeks before heading back home to Hawaii.

Cat Stevens, (now know as Yusuf Islam) did the soundtrack recording for the movie, and had been in the city at the same time doing a bit of promo for the new film and recording for a new album. Cat Stevens music was just coming into it's own full force and he was the talk of the town.

Our paths had just missed crossing each other by minutes while he was leaving the Fillmore West and I was just arriving. A few nights later, I went to see Harold and Maude.

Harold and Maude is a macabre comedy film, that became a 1970s cult film. I had fallen in love with the music of the gentle bard when I first heard it in 1969, so of course had to see the movie when I heard he had done the soundtrack.

Advertised on All the Billboards

Harold and Maude Film Billboard 1971
Harold and Maude Film Billboard 1971 | Source
Harold Staging a Hanging in Harold & Maude - the Movie
Harold Staging a Hanging in Harold & Maude - the Movie

The Opening Sequence of Harold and Maude

"It doesn't seem like the right fit. The camera follows a pair of feet slowly down the staircase and over to the record player.

Soon Cat Stevens' "Don't Be Shy" is playing: "Don't be shy, just let your feelings roll on by. Don't wear fear, or nobody will know you're there. Just lift your head, and let your feelings out instead."

It's a nice song, in classic, melodious Stevens style - the sort you would imagine for a movie of lightness and sweetness - but it's also the perfect match for dark satire - the perfect accompaniment to Harold's fake suicide"....See the Film Clip below.

Photo and Quote from Moviefhone

Harold and Maude First Shown in 1971

Harold and Maude 1971 Movie Collage
Harold and Maude 1971 Movie Collage

"Harold and Maude" is a dark comedy filmed in San Francisco in 1970 at the end of the "Hippy - Dippy Weatherman, Peace, Love, Dope, Hari Krishna, Crash Pads & Crabs" movement of the 1960s.

The movie was released in 1971, and translates from the pages of the original book quite well. Often when you see a movie after reading the book, the movie just doesn't hold up and you are disappointed.

Not the case with the Harold & Maude movie. The movie was just as good if not better with the superb characterization performance of Ruth Gordon.

The movie wasn't a box office hit, but became a cult classic as everyone that saw the movie from our generation loved the anarchist outlook of Maude.

Last month I got a copy of the film and watched it with my 23 year old friend. She loved it and watched it again with her boyfriend; and a new generation of fans are born, in love with Harold and Maude.

According to Wikipedia, "Harold and Maude has been ranked number 45 on the American Film Institute's list of "100 Funniest Movies of all Time", and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 1997 for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" ." It was nominated for 2 Golden Globe awards.

Opening Title Sequence of Harold and Maude - Don't Be Shy - Cat Stevens

Harold's Modified Jaguar XKE Black Hearse
Harold's Modified Jaguar XKE Black Hearse | Source

Dark Macabre Comedy

Harold is a lonely, bored, and wealthy young man obsessed with death, who loves to fake suicide deaths.

His idea of fun is watching buildings get demolished, visiting junkyards,and his all-time favorite... attending funerals of strangers in his car of choice.

His new Jaguar XKE sports car is modified to look like a black mini-hearse. He gets his new modified Jag after his mother disposes of his full sized black hearse.

Much of the humor in the beginning of the film comes from Harold's outrageously funny fake suicides, that are played out for the benefit of his snobby, self-absorbed mother.

His mother has grown completely immune to her son's morbid theatrics and completely ignores them and him for the most part. She only pay attention when playing matchmaker.

Harold and Maude the Movie

Harold's Staged Bathtub Suicide Attempt in Harold and Maud the Movie
Harold's Staged Bathtub Suicide Attempt in Harold and Maud the Movie

Harold, played by Bud Cort, finds himself changed forever when he meets the feisty, free-spirited, 79 year "young", elderly woman named Maude, played by Ruth Gordon, at a funeral.

In this unconventional comedy, Maude is an eclectic character, who finds something oddly attractive about Harold and he is entranced by her quirky, but sunny outlook on life, which is bright and excessively carefree in contrast with his own morbidity. Maude has lived her life to its fullest and has decided her last day on earth will be celebrated on her upcoming 80th birthday!

The pair form a bond, and Maude shows Harold the pleasures of art and music. Harold learns to play the banjo and Maude teaches Harold to grab life by the horns and swing the bull around for a dance or two.

Life is a beach and then you die, so in the meantime live, love, laugh and be free. She shows him how to "reach out", grab life, love it and all it has to offer, as opposed to dwelling morbidly on mortality.

Meanwhile, Harold's mother continues desperately to try to match Harold up with what she considers to be suitable young, wealthy women. Harold sees these women as completely unsuitable.

His mother thinks marrying him off will be the end cure for all of his morbid eccentricities, while Harold continues to scare off these young women by staging more hysterically funny suicide attempts.

If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out - If you want to be free be free

Harold: Do you pray?

Maude: Pray? No. I communicate.

Harold: With God?

Maude: With life.

In this dark comedy, 19 year old Harold falls in love with 79 year old Maude as she's a lot more fun than the other girls his own age that his mother desperately attempts to match him up with.

With Harold's morbid outlook on life and Maude's full of life and fun attitude, this mismatched couple makes for one of the sweetest and most unconventional love stories ever made.

Click Here for Details:
Harold and Maude DVD

Glorious Birds

Maude says, "Dreyfus once wrote from Devil's Island that he would see the most glorious birds. Many years later in Brittany he realized they had only been seagulls.... For me they will always be - glorious birds."

Harold and Maude the Book - By Colin Higgins

This edition of the Harold & Maude books is considered a collectible and is costing a little more than it did originally because of its scarcity.

Click Here for Details:
Harold and Maude the Book

The Flower Scene

Maude: I should like to change into a sunflower most of all. They're so tall and simple. What flower would you like to be?

Harold: I don't know. One of these, maybe.

Maude: Why do you say that?

Harold: Because they're all alike.

Maude: Oooh, but they're not. Look. See, some are smaller, some are fatter, some grow to the left, some to the right, some even have lost some petals. All kinds of observable differences. You see, Harold, I feel that much of the world's sorrow comes from people who are this,

[she points to a daisy]

Maude: yet allow themselves be treated as that.

[she gestures to a field of daisies]

Maude: [cut to a shot of a field of gravestones in a military cemetery]

Stealing Cars & Cop's Motorcycles

As the movie progresses, Harold begins growing quite fond of Maude, to the point of falling in love with this eccentric character. After all, she's a lot more fun and knowledgeable than the girls his mother continues pick out for him.

Harold & Maude continue to grow closer as she steals cars and cop motorcycles to get them to their spontaneous destinations. In fact, when Harold and Maude first met at the funeral, she steals his hearse.

Harold: You hop in any car you want and just drive off?

Maude: Well, not any car - I like to keep a variety. I'm always looking for the new experience.

Harold: [smiling] Maybe.

Harold: [more seriously] Nevertheless, I think you're upsetting people. I don't know if that's right.

Maude: Well, if some people get upset because they feel they have a hold on some things, I'm merely acting as a gentle reminder: here today, gone tomorrow, so don't get attached to things now. With that in mind, I'm not against collecting stuff.

Together Harold & Maude are one of the sweetest and most unconventional love stories ever made.

This next video scene is one of the funniest in the movie!

If You Saw Harold and Maude Will You Take This Poll?

What Did You Think of Harold and Maude?

See results

Vice, Virtue. It's best not to be too moral. You cheat yourself out of too much life.

Harold and Maude Smoking a Hookah Water Pipe


80 Is The Proper Age To Die

As Harold and Maude become closer, Harold announces to his family that he intends to marry Maude, resulting in disgusted outbursts from his family, psychiatrist and priest. Maude's 80th birthday arrives, and Harold throws a surprise party for her. As the couple dances, Maude tells Harold that she "couldn't imagine a lovelier farewell." He immediately questions Maude as to her meaning, and she reveals that she has purposely taken an overdose of sleeping pills and will be dead by midnight. She restates her firm belief that 80 is the proper age to die.

Maude Says:

A lot of people enjoy being dead.

But they are not dead, really.

They're just backing away from life.

Reach out.

Take a chance.

Get hurt even.

But play as well as you can.

Go team, go! Give me an L. Give me an I. Give me a V. Give me an E.



Otherwise, you got nothing to talk about in the locker room.

The End...... - Or Is It?

Watch the end then get the movie to watch in it's entirety. If you don't want to know the end before getting the movie, then don't watch this video. If you have an account with Netflix, you can rent it from them.

Will You Watch Harold and Maude?

Please sign the guestbook and feel free to leave your comments here.let us know.


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    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile imageAUTHOR

      June Parker 

      5 years ago from New York

      @goldenrulecomics: I laugh out loud every time I see it. It really does take a certain kind of humor to appreciate it. LOL.

    • goldenrulecomics profile image


      5 years ago from New Jersey

      It's been a long time since I've seen this movie. I need to get a copy and watch it again...

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile imageAUTHOR

      June Parker 

      6 years ago from New York

      @Kathryn Beach: You are so sweet! Thank you so much for your comment. It is one of my favorites too!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This was a lot of fun. Thanks for walking us through a wonderful film again.

    • Kathryn Beach profile image

      Kathryn Wallace 

      6 years ago from Greenbank, WA, USA

      One of my favorite movies of all time, quite possibly THE favorite. The writer should have gotten awards, Maude's wisdom is unforgettable. Live life to the fullest! Carpe diem! Thank you for this lens. Great pictures and clips all in one place. Just like the movie, this lens is a hidden gem.


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