HAROLD AND MAUDE (1971)

This offbeat comedy was a box-office dud when it premiered but took off on the midnight movie circuit often paired with KING OF HEARTS (1966). In retrospect, the critics who panned this winsome tale of a death-obsessed young man (Bud Cort) falling in love with a woman (Ruth Gordon) closing in on 80 years old now seem hopelessly out of touch. Coming out in 1971, as the youth movement that spawned it was fading, the film was too eccentric for mainstream audiences. Today, however, it is regarded as a classic romantic comedy, as cherished now for its eccentric black humor as it was derided 46 years ago. Colin Higgins had first written the script as his MFA thesis and then expanded it for feature production. Oscar-winning film editor Hal Ashby took the directing reigns and captured the script’s spirit with zoom shots and musical montages set to the songs of Cat Stevens. He also assembled the perfect cast, with Cort as the young innocent, Gordon establishing herself as the screen’s great eccentric octogenarian and Vivian Pickles, as Cort’s society mother, seeming to have wandered in from a Marx Brothers movie. (d. Hal Ashby, 91m)

In attendance: DAVE KARGER