I saw this film absolutely ages ago. I never forgot it and have seen it a couple of times since. I always loved the actress Ruth Gordon who plays the 79 year old woman in this story and Bud Cort (also in Brewster McCloud which I didn’t care for) as the 19 year old boy. Ruth Gordon is the American version of the Australian Ruth Cracknell. I could see both women in these roles but that’s a personal opinion.
The story goes (Wikipedia)- Nineteen-year-old Harold Chasen is obsessed with death. He fakes suicides to shock his self-obsessed mother, drives a hearse, and attends funerals of complete strangers. Seventy-nine-year-old Maude Chardin, on the other hand, adores life. She liberates trees from city sidewalks and transplants them to the forest, paints smiles on the faces of church statues, and “borrows” cars to remind their owners that life is fleeting— here today, gone tomorrow! A chance meeting between the two turns into a madcap, whirlwind romance, and Harold learns that life is worth living, and how to play the banjo. Harold and Maude started as Colin Higgins’s master’s thesis at UCLA film school before being made into the 1971 film directed by Hal Ashby. The quirky, dark comedy gained a loyal cult following, and in 1997 it was selected for inclusion on the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress. Higgins’s novelization was released with the original film but has been out of print for more than thirty years. Fans who have seen the movie dozens of times will find this a valuable companion, as it gives fresh elements to watch for and answers many of the film’s unresolved questions.
The book was originally published in 1971 by Colin Higgins. It is really more of a novella at only 144 pages. At the time it wasn’t well received and faded into obscurity and out of print. At the same time the film arrived which also didn’t do well initially but soon after had more of a cult following especially from university students. I probably saw this film originally in the 1970s too while in university.
What strikes me about this book is how much I enjoyed the black humour and much of it is quite black. But the characters are very likeable and the book does answer some questions that are left behind by the film.
As far as the film goes it would definitely be in my all time top ten favourites of my life. I didn’t know there was a book until only recently when I came upon it accidentally on a Kindle. Nostalgia reared its head and I needed to read it. I know I will reread this book again. I enjoyed it that much.