Thursday, August 13, 2020
Harold and Maude Head Cult Classic Week
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Friday, July 17, 2020
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

The Magic Lantern Cinemas will attempt to spice up this pandemic summer with a series of classic cult films.

“Harold and Maude,” that 1971 classic full of hilariously wacky characters and situations, alongside elements of dark humor and existentialist drama, will climb back up on the screen beginning tonight.

“Critically and commercially it was unsuccessful when released. But it developed a cult-like following,” said Magic Lantern Cinema Owner Rick Kessler. “I remember howling at the opening scene where the young man hangs himself and the camera pans to his mother as she says, ‘Now, Harold…’ And it just gets more interesting as it goes along.”

The film is based on a screenplay written by Colin Higgins, who wrote it as his UCLA master’s thesis. It’s directed by Oscar-winning film editor Hal Ashby, who was later nominated for Best Director for 1978’s “Coming Home.”

The movie revolves around the exploits of a young man named Harold who is obsessed with death, leading him to stage elaborate fake suicides and attend funerals of strangers. That’s where he meets Maude, played by Oscar-winning actress Ruth Gordon. The polar opposite of Harold, she is a 79-year-old free spirit who believes in living each day to its fullest and she sets about teaching Harold that life is the most precious gift of all.

Cat Stevens’ score joyfully punctuates the movie.

“I showed it once every two or three months for three years and people always came to see it, erupting in hilarious laughter,” Kessler said. “It reminds us not to let what other people say or think about us get in the way.”

The film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress for being culturally, historically or aesthetically significant. It’s on the American Film Institute’s list of top 100 films as one of the 100 Funniest Movies of All Time and one of the most romantic films. Entertainment Weekly ranks it fourth among its Top 50 Cult Films.

The film will show at 6:50 p.m. nightly.

Other films starting tonight include “Bohemian Rhapsody,” starring Best Actor Oscar winner Rami Malek in a celebration of Queen and their lead singer Freddie Mercury.

Also, “An American Tail,” an animated film that follows Fievel Mousekewitz and his family of Russian-Jewish mice who escape the Czarist cats in their homeland in the late 1800s only to discover to their horror that—yes—there are cats in America, too.

 

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