Harold and Maude

I went out to do my laundry and buy some groceries.  I was too sleepy to go out to the Grand Lake Theatre to see “Finding Dory” again.  I watched the Dick Cavett Show.  The guest was Ingmar Bergman.  He said that he liked “Five Easy Pieces.”  I went over to the record store and looked through the used Criterion Collection Blu-ray discs.  Back at home, I watched “Harold and Maude” again.  First I went through some of the special features, including audio excerpts from Hal Ashby and Colin Higgins, plus an interview with Cat Stevens.  I don’t think I’d ever seen the film look better.  I’d seen scratchy prints a few times during the 1980s.  The movie can’t make me laugh out loud very much anymore because I’ve seen it too many times.  Two of the moments I like involves Harold’s dates that don’t work out.  First, Harold stares at us while his mother suspects what he’s done.  It’s one of those breaking down of the fourth wall moments.  Also, there is the yellow Volkswagen that putters away after Harold frightens away one of those poor girls.  I didn’t know why Harold’s uncle didn’t suspect something when a peace demonstrator appeared out of nowhere and alone.  The swimming pool scene and the shot of Harold lying down after dealing with his uncle reminded me of “The Graduate,” and the encounter with the motorcycle cop played by Tom Skerritt reminded me of “Easy Rider.”  I wondered if it was really uncomfortable for Bud Cort to have his head in a noose.  Vivian Pickles was very funny throughout the movie.  Lynn Stalmaster must have cast every movie ever made.  The tree that Harold and Maude transplanted really looked like it was going to die.  When they were in the forest, I thought of “Vertigo.”  I wanted to know where the cemetery was.  A stunt driver does Maude’s driving, but I wished that Ruth Gordon had done all of it.  If Harold could fix up his car, he could make a living as a mechanic or customizing cars.  I would think that he had a future in horror movies or magic.  The Cat Stevens songs really add a lot to the movie, especially “Miles from Nowhere,” “Tea for the Tillerman,” and “Where Do the Children Play?”  I thought about how much effort Ruth Gordon made to learn “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out.”  I don’t see how Harold could learn the words so quickly if he wasn’t especially musical.  What is the timeline for this story?  Maude has that she is going to turn 80 on a Saturday, and the ending is on the day after, presumably.  I don’t see any of the characters watching television.  Harold has emotional problems, but he does go out of the house to do things.  You’d think that he would have at least one friend of his own age.  The funniest bit of dialogue is the priest talking about the commingling of flesh.  That is one part that does still make me laugh out loud even after all these years.  I imagined what the movie would be like if it were made today.  They would blow it.  You can’t find an 80-year-old woman who could be free-spirited without being obnoxious.  If I were the director, I might choose someone like Cloris Leachman to be Maude.  You can’t find anyone like Cat Stevens in 2016, because not even Cat Stevens is Cat Stevens anymore.  The movie did not make me curious about what ginger pie tasted like.  I wondered what was going to happen to all of Maude’s stuff, like the odor machine and the musical instruments.  How would Harold face his mother after all of this?  Hal Ashby shows up in one shot as he is watching some trains.  I thought he looked like the type of director who would burn out within 15 years.  He did make it through the seventies still making good movies, though.  This was a great role for Ruth Gordon, one of the two that we’ll always remember her for, along with the neighbor in “Rosemary’s Baby.”  I wonder what the young people of today would think about this movie?  I’m not so sure that people are open-minded about age.  I imagine that with political correctness in the air, and everybody trying to please everybody, the content would have to be drastically changed.  Was there a character in the movie that wasn’t white.  Maybe one of the Army men was black.  I heard a lot of bad news coming from Nice.  Also, Donald Trump was deciding on a running mate.  The people who thought the Republican Party would implode if Trump won the nomination had better think again about how the world really works.  Some of the people who died on July 15 include Anton Chekhov (1904), Paul Gallico (1975), Margaret Lockwood (1990), Bert Convy (1991), and Celeste Holm (2012).  Today is a birthday for Forest Whitaker (55), Ariana Huffington (66), and Linda Ronstadt (70).

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