Quick Book Review: “Hal Ashby and the Making of Harold and Maude” by James A. Davidson
I go through phases where I don’t think about the movie Harold and Maude very much, and then I become obsessed with it again. It’s my favorite movie; I find the humorous bits hilarious and the philosophical bits poignant and uplifting, and whenever there’s some kind of crisis (like 9-11 or the current corona pandemic), I find myself immersed in it again. Davidson’s book is a dream come true for obsessives of the movie. He really covers every aspect of the movie that you could possibly imagine, in amazing detail. You hear all about the writing of the script, the selling of it to Paramount studios, the casting, the location, the production crew, the actors, and especially the visionary, quirky director, Hal Ashby. It’s a treasure trove of interesting anecdotes, with fascinating trivia (how much the actors earned, the film’s budget, squabbles between the director and the studio) and excellent career overviews of all of the participants in the movie. The impact of the movie on its devoted followers is discussed in detail, and I agreed with every word. I enjoyed this book immensely and if you’re a fan of the movie, either casual or obsessive, you will too.