YMMV / Harold and Maude

  • Adaptation Displacement: Hardly anybody remembers or even knows the novel by Colin Higgins, who was originally slated to direct before Hal Ashby came on board. The novel is currently out of print.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: None of Harold's friends or family ever actually meet Maude. Is she real, or just Harold's Tyler Durden?
  • Audience-Alienating Premise: Perhaps the world was not ready for a premise as quirky as a faux suicidal Emo Teen and his elderly Manic Pixie Dream Girl romantic partner. To a lesser extent, though, the "young man dates older woman" pitch alone has turned off viewers who immediately assume that we will see them repeatedly making out or having sex (there is exactly one post-sex scene - a kissing scene was filmed and later cut by the studio, but it does appear briefly in the 1971 trailer).
  • Awesome Music: "If you want to sing out, sing out..."
  • Crosses the Line Twice: Boy obsessed with being dead? Funny. Boy who stages his own suicide for attention? Awful. Boy who turns staging his own suicide into a recurring act? Funny again.
  • Cool House: Maude lives in a converted train car, complete with fireplace, piano, mementos from around the world, and a bird feeder made out of a clay pigeon launcher.
  • Cult Classic
  • Hilarious in Hindsight or "Funny Aneurysm" Moment, depending: The priest's expression when describing Harold's "firm, young body."
    • The reason why Harold was suddenly interested in stuffing all his beets (unchewed) into his mouth at dinner. Fake blood ingredient.
    • Ruth Gordon, Maude's actress, later hawking the Subaru BRAT.
    • Bud Cort portrayed a serial abductor in Criminal Minds who ended up taking his own life.
  • It Was His Sled: Surprisingly averted. Although the movie's premise is reasonably well known, the ending is not.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Tom Skerritt (credited as "M. Borman"note ) as the motorcycle cop.
    • Also Ellen Geer as Sunshine.
  • Squick: The priest goes on for a very long scene about this.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: In 1971, something as morbidly quirky as a suicidal teen falling in love with a feisty old woman was enough to drive audiences away in droves. These days, you're likely to find about five indie black comedies released a year with near-identical premises be lauded as "fresh and original."
  • Tear Jerker:
    Maude: Go and love some more.
    • The reason Harold pulls these stunts.
    • The blink and you'll miss it reveal of Nazi death camp numbers on Maude's arm.
  • Turn Out Like His Father: Harold's mother recounts a story of Harold's (now dead) father getting arrested for floating naked in the Seine. With and without Maude's influence, Harold gets into hijinx of his own.
  • Values Dissonance: It's hard to imagine someone who steals cars and then drives them recklessly being heralded as a noble crusader against The Man these days.