In honor of Presidents’ Day, Washington’s Birthday and Lincoln’s birthday last month, we’ve collected the top 10 classic birthday-suit scenes from American movies with American themes — everything from “American Beauty” to “The Graduate.”
Harold and Maude
It’s never too late to watch a great cult movie. In fact, many of them get midnight showings! So here are ten offbeat must-sees to keep you occupied should insomnia strike.
Wes Anderson has been making feature films since the ’90s (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore) so needless to say his influences date further back than that. It’s a testament to this auteur’s considerable talent that although he’s supremely nostalgic, he’s by no means derivative. He doesn’t rob his predecessors. He nods to them. So to begin… (Cue the Futura title card bearing the words Chapter 1:)
Time to jingle those piggy banks and see what shakes loose — if you’ve ever wanted some of the best of contemporary and classic films for your very own, here’s your chance. Barnes & Noble is offering all of Criterion Collection’s movies at 50% off, including such faves as HAROLD AND MAUDE, THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST, 12 ANGRY MEN, BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, THE THIN RED LINE, THE 39 STEPS, RUSHMORE and the miniseries CARLOS. Most titles are available on beauteous Blu-ray.
You know the worst thing about the movie THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY? Not the semen hair gel gag, or the clogged toilet, or the zipper in the ball sac. Nope, it’s when Cameron Diaz’s character Mary declares that the movie HAROLD AND MAUDE (released this week for the first time on Blu-Ray) is the “greatest love story of our time.” We happen to think she’s right, but all of a sudden it became a bit trite to celebrate this 1971 love story about a 79-year-old free spirited woman and a 20-year-old guy who likes to fake his own suicide to freak out his mom.
BAMcinematek is currently in the midst of a whirlwind screening series of films by Hal Ashby – and I couldn’t be happier. As a diehard Ashby fan I get a lot of flack, mostly for still liking HAROLD AND MAUDE (1971) as much today as I did when my friend’s Maude-esque mother first showed it to me when I was in high school, back when Cat Stevens’ music and the film’s love-is-all-there-is credo hadn’t yet been spoiled by the years of eye-rolling that followed. I like to think my tastes have matured somewhat since I was fifteen, but I still can’t help loving HAROLD AND MAUDE. What other people see as cloying hippie drivel I see as funny, smart, even satirical. When Maude, dressed from head-to-toe in black Victorian mourning lace, protests war all by herself on the side of the road, at the edge of a cliff, is to me a really astute comment on the all too prominent and largely ineffectual picketing culture of the 60s and 70s. Then, of course, there’s the love story, which is one of my all-time favorites (right alongside Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett). In Ashby’s director’s cut, we actually see Harold and Maude kiss, but it was deemed too controversial and cut out for the theatrical release (though you can still catch it in the original trailers).