Harold and Maude Movie Poster

Trivia for Harold and Maude

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  • According to Ruth Gordon's autobiography, a number of other actresses were considered and interviewed by director Hal Ashby for the role of Maude, including Edith Evans, Mildred Dunnock, Mildred Natwick, Gladys Cooper, Peggy Ashcroft, Elisabeth Bergner, Edwige Feuillère and Dorothy Stickney.
  • When Maude and Harold steal the police officer's motorcycle, Bud Cort accidentally hit himself in the head with the shovel, but just kept going for the sake of the shot.
  • Harold and Maude (1971) played for a total of 1,957 showings from mid-1972 until June 1974 at the Westgate Theater in Edina, Minnesota. Ruth Gordon appeared for the first anniversary celebration and both Gordon and Cort showed up for the second anniversary.
  • To avoid an 'R' rating, a controversial swear word had to be eliminated from the scene in which Harold and Maude sit under the sunset.
  • (Director Cameo) Hal Ashby: the bearded man seen briefly in the amusement park arcade.
  • There is a deleted scene in which Mrs. Chasen talks with Harold's dummy, mistaking him for her son. It is described in detail in the book-adaptation.
  • The scenes in which Harold turns to look at the camera after successfully scaring off his first date, and when he does "the finger" behind his mother's back after she sees the Jaguar turned into a Hearse, were not in the script, rather, they were improvised by Bud Cort.
  • The budget was $1.2M.
  • Hal Ashby intended to film a scene of Harold and Maude making love, but Paramount dismissed this idea.
  • In all shots of Ruth Gordon (Maude) driving the hearse it is being towed because she never learned how to drive a car.
  • When she first meets Harold, Maude states her full name as Dame Marjorie Chardem (although it is spelled "Chardin" in the screenplay, novel, and transcript).
  • [June 2008] Ranked #9 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Romantic Comedy".
  • When considering the role of Harold, Bud Cort asked the opinion of director Robert Altman, his mentor. Altman cautioned that rising star Cort might find himself forever typecast. For this reason, Cort turned down the role of Billy Bibbit in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975).
  • Henry Dieckoff, who appeared as Mrs. Chasen's butler, was the actual butler of Rose Court Mansion in Hillsborough, California, south of San Francisco, which served as the setting for the Chasen mansion.
  • Bud Cort wanted Greta Garbo to play the part of Maude.
  • Colin Higgins was originally to direct Harold and Maude, but production was soon canceled. A couple of months later, production resumed when Hal Ashby was to direct.
  • Colin Higgins' screenplay was based on his thesis for the UCLA screenwriting MFA program.
  • (Cameo) Suzanne Somers: As a "deodorant girl" during a funeral. The scene was cut.
  • Charles Mulvehill and Shari Summers married immediately following the completion of Harold and Maude (1971) in director Hal Ashby's home.
  • Actors originally considered for the role of Harold Chasen include John Rubinstein, Bob Balaban, Daniel Fortus, Todd Susman, Elton John and John Neilson.
  • Maude's picture frames are empty. In Colin Higgins's book, Harold asks why she removed the photographs (the scene was not used in the movie). Maude tells him they mocked her by their images remaining sharp even as her memories were fading, implying that she is suffering from Alzheimer's or a similar form of dementia.
  • Cyril Cusack stabbed his hand while rehearsing a shot in which he was sculpting ice - only he didn't know it was merely a rehearsal, and bore with the pain.
  • The Cat Stevens songs 'Pop Star', 'Time,' and 'Fill My Eyes' were originally to be used in the film.
  • There is a deleted scene in which Maude paints smiles on the statues in the church. A still from this scene can be found on one of the original lobby cards, and it is described in detail in the book-adaptation. In the movie, the priest from the graveside service at the cemetery refers to a similar incident when he asks Maude, "Are you also the one who painted the saint?" (Referring to the Saint on the dashboard of his VW Bug which Maude steals.)
  • In the scenes between Harold and the psychiatrist, both wear matching clothes, down to the ties and handkerchiefs.
  • A play based on Colin Higgins' story opened in New York on February 7, 1980 but failed badly, closing on February 9, 1980 after only 4 performances. The stars were Janet Gaynor, Keith McDermott, with Ruth Ford playing Mrs. Chasen.
  • Flamboyant eighties pop star Boy George is a big fan of this movie. When he met Bud Cort on the set of Electric Dreams (1984), his first words to Cort were, "So you're the bloke who kept killing himself!"
  • Cat Stevens appears in a brief, uncredited role during Ruth Gordon's second appearance in the film. He is the bearded gentleman wearing a hat and a full coat at a graveside service. His profile can be seen a few times as he looks at displeasure at Ruth Gordon trying to grab Burt Cort's attention during the service.
  • Most of the Cat Stevens songs heard in the film were taken from his albums Mona Bone Jakone or Tea for the Tillerman. He wrote the opening song, "Don't Be Shy", and "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out" especially for the film.
  • On Tom Skerritt's credit as "M. Borman": "Skerritt's small role in the film, as an authoritarian motorcycle policeman, came about by accident when a previously cast actor broke his leg. Skerritt's film credit reads M. Borman, a reference to prominent Nazi official Martin Bormann, whose post-World War II whereabouts were still unknown. 'I said one day that he probably came out to Oakland and became a motorcycle cop, and so that's the way they put it in.'" Detroit Free Press, April 20, 2014, "Detroit native Tom Skerritt comes home Tuesday to reflect on his life, Hollywood times"
  • Ranked #4 in Entertainment Weekly's "Top 50 Cult Films of All-Time."
  • Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
  • Included among the American Film Institute's 2000 list of the Top 100 Funniest American Movies.
  • Ruth Gordon is 51 years older than co-star Bud Cort.
  • Composer and singer Cat Stevens wrote the song "Don't Be Shy" specifically for the film Harold and Maude, to be played in the intro title credits. The song later resurfaced when played as a soundtrack in the 2007 children's comedy/fantasy film "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium", and the song also appeared in a Harold and Maude soundtrack compilation released on vinyl, along with another original by Cat Stevens written specifically for Harold and Maude, titled "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out".
  • Cat Stevens came to Ashby's attention through Elton John, who was being considered for the part of Harold. Stevens was hired to compose the films score but could not complete his contract for scheduling reasons. Ashby had already been using Cat's song catalog as mood enhancers and scratch tracks during production, so a deal was made to finalize the score using them in place of all originals.
  • Actress Maude Apatow was named after the title character.
  • This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #608.
  • The music in Harold and Maude was composed and performed by Cat Stevens. He had been suggested by Elton John to do the music after John had dropped out of the project.[34] Stevens com. Sir Elton John was being considered for the role of Harold, but had to focus on his stellar performance & recording career!
  • Sight & Sound magazine conducts a poll every ten years of the world's finest film directors, to find out the Ten Greatest Films of All Time. This poll has been going since 1952 and has become the most recognized poll of its kind in the world. In 2012, Niki Caro, Wanuri Kahiu, and Cyrus Frisch voted for "Harold and Maude". Frisch commented: "An encouragement to think beyond the obvious!"


  • The hearse Harold originally drives is a 1959 Cadillac Superior 3-way model that is one of the most sought after hearses among collectors today but at the time was considered nothing more than an undesirable used car which was purchased for a few hundred dollars. The Jaguar hearse was really destroyed at the end and no replica exists because they only constructed one version for filming.
  • While watching a sunset with Harold, Maude sees a flock of seagulls and refers to Dreyfus. Alfred Dreyfus (1859-1935), a Jewish officer in the French army, was wrongly convicted of treason in 1894, and sentenced to life in solitary confinement on Devil's Island (a penal colony off the coast of French Guiana). He was pardoned five years later, and ultimately exonerated when the evidence against him was proved false. The incident is seen by most historians as a revelation and indictment of French antisemitism, and its implications for French Jews still reverberate in France. The Dreyfus conversation coincides with Harold seeing Maude's concentration camp tattoo for the first time, which juxtaposes two of the most infamous instances of institutionalized European antisemitism of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and strongly implies that Maude had been a Jewish concentration camp prisoner during World War II.
  • The Holocaust Encyclopedia resource on the website for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., says that tattoos of serial numbers were given only (and specifically) to prisoners at the Auschwitz complex of concentration camps (which included Auschwitz I [Main Camp], Auschwitz II [Auschwitz-Birkenau], and Auschwitz III [Monowitz and the subcamps]) who had been selected for work. Prisoners at other Nazi concentration camps were not tattooed; neither were prisoners at Auschwitz who were selected for immediate extermination instead of a work detail. The purpose of the tattoo was for the Nazis to have a system by which they could identify and catalog the bodies of the slave-laborer prisoners after their deaths.
  • It is believed that the film The Night Digger (1971) inspired both Colin Higgins and Hal Ashby in applying some of ideas of the film The Night Digger into this film. For example, both films have where a vehicle fall from the cliff. Both films show romantic relationship between an older woman and a young man. The Night Digger (1971) was released seven months prior to Harold and Maude (1971).
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