Classic Movies: Harold and Maude (1971) Movie Review

1971 Film
Reviewed in Boston May-June 1974
"Movie will run indefinitely based on solid SRO crowds."

     There's a simple tale, well-told these days at the Allston Cinema on Harvard Avenue. Judging from the standing-room-only crowds, it's a big hit with Boston moviegoers. Now, you might have missed "Harold and Maude" the first time around a couple of years ago, because it's the kind of film that didn't cause a sensation.
     But in Minneapolis, "Harold and Maude" just broke all attendance records with a 46 MONTH run. That's in an industry that usually values a movie when it draws crowds for a week or two.
     Harold and Maude are an oddball couple if there ever was one. Bud Cort plays Harold. He's just out of his 'teens -- an ashen-faced young man whose sole macabre interest is death. He stages fakey dramatic suicides for shock value. His idea of kicks is going to funerals.
     At one funeral, he happens to meet Maude. She's going on eighty years old, but never you mind... she's a snip of a girl at heart. She loves flowers and trees and the earth. She's old enough to be Harold's grandmother, but youth is a state of mind, and Maude is eternal.
     Actress Ruth Gordon plays Maude to the hilt. In real life, Ruth is married to Garson Kanin, a man many years her junior. Kanin vows that Ruth savors every minute of her real life... When she bites into an apple, she'll exclaim, "This is the MOST WONDERFUL apple I've ever eaten!" It's that joy of life that comes through in this movie, and Boston is eating it up.
     "Harold and Maude" is good, solid filmmaking, with skillful acting, just enough humor and bite, plus a swift but poignant ending. Michael Sirota, the manager of the Allston Cinema, plans to keep the film there as long as people come to fill up his two- hundred-seat theater. 
     Please go -- and get there early for a good seat.  "Harold and Maude" -- a couple of kooks who got a well-deserved second chance! I'm giving this an "A" on Ellen's Entertainment Report Card.
     This is Ellen Kimball for WEEI Newradio 59.

Monday, January 25, 2010

XANADU -- From Broadway to Portland's Keller Auditorium

Xanadu has closed in Portland, Oregon -- but please check these links for performances in other U. S. cities.

Visit for more details.

Elizabeth Stanley and Max von Essen || Photo courtesy Carol Rosegg

XANADU -- A Roller Disco Fantasy -- comes to Portland's Keller Auditorium

Put a bunch of smash hit songs, Tony (c) Award winning Douglas Carter Beane and the cutest couple in town into a Broadway musical comedy blender, and what do you get? "Heaven on Wheels" says The New York Times. Taking audiences back to 1980 California, this hilarious new musical follows the beautiful Kira, who travels to earth to inspire a struggling young artist named Sonny, as she helps this aspiring painter find his voice, discover true love, and build the world's first roller disco (not necessarily in that order).

All performances are at Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St at 3rd Ave, downtown Portland. Performances with American Sign Language description are usually on Thursdays. Please call 503-241-1802, M-F, 9a-5p, for more information and tickets.

January 12-17, 2010

Tuesday-Friday at 7:30pm

Saturday at 2pm & 7:30pm

Sunday at 1pm & 6:30pm

In person: The Hampton Opera Center, 211 SE Caruthers St, Portland, OR 97214
By Phone: 503-241-1802, or toll-free at 1-866-739-6737 (M-F, 9a-5p)

Portland Opera, in association with Broadway Across America, is proud to provide our entire region with the very best nationally touring Broadway productions.

Visit for more details.

January 8, 2010

Movie Review: The Towering Inferno (1974) -- Classic Movies

The Towering Inferno

This film is another in the endless series of disaster movies we've been offered in 1974. The Towering Inferno comes on like hot stuff. But the people who get burned are in the audience, because this film is a big bore. Some pyromaniacs might enjoy it, and the production substitutes technical achievement for plot.
The acting is tepid. The dialogue lacks spark. Screenwriter Sterling Silliphant devises some of the most ludicrous lines I've ever heard. They play to the giggles and hisses of the audience. Paul Newman is the architect who designs the 138-story building. His engineering is subverted by Richard Chamberlain. He replaces the specified wire with an inferior gauge, and the bhilding's whole electrical system goes haywire on the first day.  Enter the intrepid firefighters, with Chief Steve McQueen.  He sports lighter hair, sky blue eyes and a furrowed brow.  How can he save all those people trapped at a party on the top floor? And how can we tell him from Paul Newman, who also has sandy colored hair and baby blue eyes? Jennifer Jones and Fred Astaire leave their rocking chairs for this outing. Faye Dunaway wears a sheer brown dress to the fire, showing everything went thataway on her towering frame. Also in tow for their names' sake are Robert Vaughn, Susan Blakely, Robert Wagner and O.J. Simpson, who plays football much better than he acts. Music by Joel Hirschhorn and Al Kasha includes a song called "We May Never Love Like This Again." The flames lick higher, the firefighters bomb the water tanks on the building's top floor, and most of the important members of the cast survive.  Hollywood took two books and two studios, four camera crews and fourteen million dollars to make "The Towering Inferno." They build 57 sets and burned down 49 of them making this movie.  They dropped a million gallons of water on a huge set covering more than 11,000 square feet of sound stage.
"The Towering Inferno" should become an entry in the Guinness World Book of Records. The movie that spent so much to bring you just a big blast of hot air...This is Ellen Kimball on Entertainment for WEEI.

Rated: 'C' on Ellen's Entertainment Report Card.

(Review originally aired Dec. 25, 1974 to January 5, 1975)

For more information on this film, go to:

Monday, January 4, 2010