Cult Film Friday: Harold and Maude (1971)

Within my group of friends, there are people who like to converse about movies in general and there are those who are madly obsessed with three or four that I have never even heard of.  This fandom, characterized by an unyielding devotion to unconventional cinema, is not something my small arsenal of film quotes could ever compete with.  Given these constraints, I suspect my understanding of cult classics is slightly off the mark. Some of the more recognizable titles appeal to a wide audience, but I see most as borderline obscure, worshiped by small groups of people, and not worthy of their rite of passage statuses. This is an opinion I hope to change, one Friday at a time.


Week 1: Harold and Maude


Genre: Dark Humor

Synopsis: An impassive boy obsessed with death meets and falls in love with a lively, much older woman.

What I thought it was about: A teenage boy really loves his grandmother.

Wait, he loves her?: You won’t stop smiling, at least I didn’t. Despite the substantial age difference between Harold and Maude, they exude a genuine interest in one another and form a very believable bond.  It may be an unorthodox connection, but the way Harold adoringly gazes at Maude, someone who could have easily been the inspiration behind “Hoppipolla,” made me wonder if it wasn’t just the character who had become enamored.

Why you should see it: Aside from the reasons I listed previously, I think it’s quite entertaining to see how Harold’s detached mother, and the girls she forces him to meet, deal with his staged suicides.

Memorable quote: “Vice, virtue. It’s best not to be too moral. You cheat yourself out of too much [life]. Aim above morality. If you apply that to life, you’re bound to live fully.” -Maude

The Takeaway:  “Harold and Maude” will be enjoyed by those who appreciate dark humor, character development, and watching old people cause trouble. Maude is a funny lady who throws down some real wisdom, which is what inspires Harold to minimize his morbid tendencies and connect with the small pleasures in life. There are a few lessons we can all learn from.

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