Harold and Maude

Death, Life, and Costuming: Hal Ashby’s Harold and Maude 11th Grade

In Hal Ashby’s cult classic Harold and Maude, we follow Harold (played by newcomer Bud Cort), a morose and eccentric teenager who enjoys pretending to kill himself to annoy his mother. His mother is Mrs. Chasen (played brilliantly by Vivian Pickles), a wealthy woman who is very controlling of Harold and others, is snooty, and not affectionate in the least. She is more concerned with looking good in front of others than cultivating a relationship with her family -- Harold in particular. Over time, she has grown accustomed to Harold’s strange antics and seems mostly unaffected by them (in one scene, Harold pretends to hang himself; when his mother walks into the room, she talks to him as she would in any normal situation between mother and son). Nevertheless, she still wants Harold to succeed, thrive, and get a girlfriend (throughout the movie, she interviews various girls for Harold to date, most of whom he drives away by strange, eccentric, and awkward behavior) so that her pristine image is upheld.

Nevertheless, Harold shrugs off his mother’s attempts at getting him a girlfriend and begins to frequently visit the eccentric 79-year-old Holocaust survivor Maude (played by the ever-charming -- now sadly deceased -- Ruth Gordon),...

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