Comedians & Comedies: Harold & Maude


The Screening Room @VTIFF Fri, Aug 2 7:00 PM


Series: Comedians & Comedies

Vermont Comedians present comedies that impacted their own sense of what’s funny.


Harold & Maude (1970)

Presented by Marianne Dimascio

Friday, August 2 | 7:00 pm

U.S. | 91 minutes

Director: Hal Ashby


Two funeral-crashers – a teenaged boy and an elderly woman (Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon, respectively, both utterly fabulous) – develop a deep relationship in this classic ‘70s comedy from Hal Ashby. The humor is dark-dark-dark – there’s death everywhere, and much of guffaw-humor comes from Harold’s increasingly elaborate and hysterical fake-suicide attempts – but there’s a very human heart in the movie. 


Writer/performer Marianne Dimascio thinks this film is quite funny, and plucked it from a longer list of films, all of them hilarious. Why? Come watch the movie and she’ll explain. 


Looking back, it’s hard to believe that this film didn’t secure Oscar nominations for Best Actress (Ruth Gordon), Best Original Screenplay (Colin Higgins), or Best Scoring Adaptation and Original Song Score (Cat Stevens), but…so it goes. For director Ashby, the film launched him into an amazing decade, in which he would helm such classics as The Last Detail, Shampoo, Coming Home and Being There (wow!). 

The film was a commercial disappointment and received notable negative reviews from Vincent Canby at the New York Times and Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times. But from those ashes rose one of the original cult films, which caught on with a young audience that flocked to midnight screenings for years afterward, actually putting the film into the black in 1983.  A theater in Italy has been showing the film non-stop (except of Covid) since its release in 1970.