Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Harold, Maude & Vivian ...

Self-destructive and needy but wealthy teenager Harold is obsessed with death and spends his leisure time attending funerals, simulating suicides trying to get the attention of his indifferent, snobbish and egocentric mother. When Harold meets the anarchic seventy-nine-year-old Maude at a funeral, they become friends. Meanwhile, his mother enlists him in a dating service and tries to force him to join the army. On the day of Maude's eightieth birthday, Harold proposes to her but he finds the truth about life at the end of hers. 

Finally up from the vaults, Hal Ashby's HAROLD AND MAUDE, a cult film if ever there was one (it and SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE (reviewed here at Lansbury, York, gay interest labels) were our big cult favourites back in that pre-video world of the early '70s - one had to catch them during their brief runs whenever they turned up), it is now though back on dvd and Blu-ray to entrance a new generation.
Its a deliciously morbid tale (written by Colin Higgins) of a suicidally obsessed young man (Bud Cort) who strikes up a relationship with that odd old lady he keeps seeing at funerals of strangers they both go to. Factor in Vivian Pickles as his mother with all those dates (like Sunshine Dore) she arranges for him, laugh as she fills in the questionnaire .... more on her soon! 
With its spine-tingling Cat Stevens sountrack and great images, Ashby's enduring weirdie continues to delight us now. I also recently got Ashby's 1970 THE LANDLORD, another cult item that captures that era perfectly, we will be re-seeing and reviewing it before too long.... Ashby's biggest hit was COMING HOME in 1978 (but I never wanted to see his BEING THERE in 1980). He died in 1988. Writer Colin Higgins also wrote and directed NINE TO FIVE and FOUL PLAY (before dying of Aids aged 47 in 1988).

Bud Cort had an odd appearance and an odd career and is still working now, he was often used by Robert Altman. Ruth Gordon of course is that hollywood veteran actress and writer, in films as far back as Garbo's TWO FACED WOMAN in 1941, but scored as those odd old ladies in INSIDE DAISY CLOVER, ROSEMARY'S BABY, LORD LOVE A DUCK and of course HAROLD AND MAUDE.

People We Like: Vivian Pickles.

Vivian is an amazing Britsh actress, as unique as Kay Kendall or Joan Greenwood, or Alison Steadman or Imelda Staunton or Brenda Blethyn now  - Vivian too has a unique voice and manner. Harold's preoccupied mother may be her best screen role. In her 80s now, she was in a recent BIRDS OF A FEATHER tv comedy series, and was a stunning Mary Queen of Scots opposite Glenda Jackson's ELIZABETH R, she also had that cameo in Scheslinger's SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY in 1971, and I remember her in BBC series of VILE BODIES. She was Mrs Bennett in a 1967 PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and was Isadora Duncan in Ken Russell's 1966 film on Duncan in a long career of interesting choices.


  1. ... and don't forget her blazing turn in the superb 1980 version of Mitford's Love in A Cold Climate; she played, and played wonderfully, the clueless and socially uber-confident Lady Montdore ("What are you up to, girls? Talking *balls* as usual, I expect!" and the priceless "they're on a walking tour of the Sodomites.")

  2. Thanks, I will have to watch for that one, I think a friend of mine has it.