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Weekend Watch: A Reader Requests 'Harold and Maude'

Weekend Watch is a weekly movie review looking at the latest films in the theaters, what's streaming online, and even black and white classics. This Week: "Harold and Maude."

The last few weeks of writing Weekend Watch sort of dragged for me. I love writing about films, but it got harder for me to write because I had the distinct feeling that no one was really reading. This was do to a couple factors: First, I wasn’t really getting any comments on the blog itself, maybe a few here or there but nothing consistent. Second, when I would share it on Facebook even my own friends seemed to ignore it.

But last week all of that changed. Not only did a few of my friends respond to my post, but for the first time a reader (“Reg”) asked if I would review a specific film. That film was “Harold and Maude.” This was exactly the confidence booster I needed. So last night, with a renewed purpose, I sat down in front of the TV, searched through the Netflix streaming menu, and began watching “Harold and Maude (1971).”

The film focuses on Harold (Bud Cort), a rich kid, who due to his obsession with death likes to act out elaborate staged suicides in order to get the attention of his detached mother. However, when he meets Maude (Ruth Gordon), a 79-year-old woman with a passion for life, at a funeral, his life is changed forever.

This movie was weird, but a good kind of weird. When I first read the synopsis I was put off, but I found out that the budding romance between a teenage boy and a 79-year-old woman (although there are a few cringe-worthy moments) was actually very sweet. The movie was weird for me because despite being made in 1971, the issues it brings up (organic food) and the themes it deals with (self-esteem) are still incredibly relevant today.  

One scene in particular that highlights this relevancy is one in which Harold’s mother is reading questions from a dating service — which, by the way, I had no idea existed in the '70s. Several of the questions proposed by the dating service touch on subjects that we as a culture are still dealing with such as the media over-sexualizing women.   

After watching Harold slowly realize what it means to actually live, I couldn’t help but empathize with him. I also went through a dark period when I was younger. I filled my time during the first few years of high school writing dark poems filled with death and sadness all because I felt so alone.

Conversely, it was surprising for me to actually feel how infectious Maude’s lust for life really was. I couldn’t help but smile knowing she made the best out of her life, and lived it on her own terms, despite all she had been subjected to. In a sense, I admired her.

It makes sense that this film gained notoriety and eventually became a cult classic. The message of positivity is bursting at the seams. It urges the viewer to pay attention to the things troubling them, and encourages us to deal with our problems in a positive manner. If you have Netflix streaming you should definitely give it a watch. 

Do you have a request for a Weekend Watch movie review? Share your ideas below.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jon Schreffler January 17, 2013 at 11:14 PM
thanks for the insightful review. i've always loved this movie.
Lance Howland (Editor) January 18, 2013 at 01:02 AM
Colby: Don't forget the Bay Area scenery in 'Harold and Maude.' It has shots of the driftwood 'sculptures' that used to rise out of the bay along the Berkeley/ Emeryville shoreline and were a great landmark (baymark?). It was a monthly regular in the late seventies, years after it was made, at the UC Theatre in Berkeley. It is a good movie for dealing intelligently with troubling themes ...
Colby Wayne Heyer January 18, 2013 at 05:10 PM
Lance, you're absolutely right. I read about that when researching the film, but didn't even think to put it in the review! I thought it was amazing how pertinent the film still is to the issues we have as a society today.
Colby Wayne Heyer January 18, 2013 at 05:11 PM
Thanks, Jon! I appreciate the comment.
Emily Henry (Editor) January 18, 2013 at 08:30 PM
Why have I never seen this movie? It sounds great! Thanks, Colby. I'll give it a watch.
michael frederick January 20, 2013 at 06:28 AM
Colby, This is one of my favorite movies, ever: The mom routinely swimming past Harold's floating body. Harold excusing himself from the blind date his mom set up for him, to ceremonially pour gas on himself and light-up in front of her, to "discretely" drive her away. The preacher's repulsion at the thought of Harold's "young, firm" body in bed with Maude. Priceless... I love Ruth Gordon. She's fearless. And, the views of rolling hills and oaks lets you know it was filmed here. About 35 years ago, Harold and Maude was a recurring feature -- along with Rocky Horror -- at the El Rey on Main St. That's where I first saw it. Thanks for sharing. You're right, it's timeless.
Marianne Burns January 24, 2013 at 01:48 AM
Although I have not watched this movie in over 30 years, I remember it as being a real force of energy in my life and I saw it then four times. I was younger and related to it very well. I wonder if there are other movies which are similar or which it reminds you of....can anyone think of any? But, Harold and Maude really spoke to the energy and positivity in a person regardless of age, race, class,orientation or profession......atitude with a capital A.
Will February 01, 2013 at 10:52 PM
In tribute to "Harold and Maude" I always cue up Cat Stevens when I get to drive over the San Mateo Bridge. For a completely different Ruth Gordon role, check her out in "Rosemary's Baby". She was a terrific actress.

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