Friday, April 03, 2009

Harold And Maude, Bud And Harry

I watched Harold and Maude (1971) for at least the third time last night. It is one of my most favorite movies. Harold and Maude is about a 20 year old man child (Harold) who is in love with death until he meets a 79 year old woman (Maude) who teaches him to love life. Maude is played by the late great Ruth Gordon who was also a Broadway star and a writer (along with her husband Garson Kanin) of many screenplays including the Katharine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy movies Adam's Rib (1949) and Pat and Mike (1952). She also wrote the screenplay for The Actress (1953), which is based on her life. Her autobiography, Ruth Gordon, an open book, is an interesting look at New York theater in the early twentieth century.

The fact that I think Bud Cort was wonderful in this movie is surprising to me since I have never been a fan of movie clowns who act childishly. I love silent movies clown Buster Keaton but find another silent film clown, Harry Langdon, who was a big as Keaton at the time, disturbing. Something about Langdon's baby face and childish behavior creep the heck out of me. So imagine my shock while watching Harold and Maude last night and realizing that Bud Cort looks a lot like Harry Langdon.

So, why do I find Bud Cort adorable but Harry Langdon creepy? Well, after watching a clip from Langdon's film Tramp, Tramp, Tramp I think it is the eyes. When I look into Bud Cort eyes I see innocence and an underlying sweetness there. When I look into Harry Langdon's eyes I see nothing. He is acting sweet and innocent but is far from it. I guess it comes down to a question of who you believe in. I believe in Bud Cort.

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