Wednesday, August 29, 2007



Harvey's Imaginary Productions
________________ presents _________

never-before-seen stills from the set
of Hal Ashby's 1971 cult classic!

Harold & Maude


We bring you over a dozen never-before-seen pictures from the set!

We show the real Hollywood story of young Bud Cort's partying days!

We give you a rare glimpse of what it must have been like to work alongside one of the American film industry's most notorious divas, Ruth Gordon.

But first, a word from our sponsors:



And now a few candid shots to refresh you
on the names and faces of the film's original cast:

Ruth Gordon as Maude Chardin

Bud Cort as Harold Chasen

Craijan Merchashi, also as Harold Chasen
Little known fact: Two men, not one, played Harold. It was that big a role. Despite his virtuosity, Merchashi was destined to remain in the shadows.

Charles "Pixelated" Tyner as Uncle Victor

The Inside Story!

The truth will out: Ruth Gordon was a bona fide tyrant on set. Second little-known fact: she was, in fact, the one responsible for Harold's trademark "Rubberband Legs" gait in the film. She forced Cort to walk the cemetery path with her every day until she felt he got it just right.

Down ...

... and back. Sources say hundreds of circuits!

More evidence that Gordon could be incredibly demanding and idiosyncratic: she felt scenes needed to be shot one after the next, in sequence, to preserve her own sense of "narrative juju." When her colleagues could not get a scene right, there was NO MOVING ON. She hammered away at the kinks until it was perfect. Here, Gordon watches as Cort struggles off-camera to get Rubberband Legs just so:

... The pressure began to wear at Cort's focus. Sources close to the best boy grip say that Cort, a former Olympic cartwheeler, just couldn't nail the physical acting after Gordon's example.

Shamefully, the scene was rewritten with somersaults where the cartwheel once had been. Friends cite the cartwheel lessons as the turning point, the moment Cort really began to spin out of control (see below).

But the signs were there from the start. Gordon had broken Cort--and everyone else--long before the gymnastic gaffes. And here's the rub: had Cort just been able to imbibe some Red Bull(tm!), he may have had the energy to keep up with the hard-driving, senior dominatrix. But it wasn't around in those days. Cort compensated with Robitussin and ketamine. This was, in fact, his undoing.

Sometimes Cort would just space out in the middle of a scene, kick into monologues or zero in on props to the exclusion of any other reality:

... Or he'd lose his balance trying to stand in one place:

Often the unfortunate actor would wake smack in the middle of a scene and have no idea what was happening or who the chick with the braids was.

To everyone's great relief, the camerawoman had a friend--Craijan Merchashi--who had played Friedrich Von Trapp in his seventh grade school play. Merchashi brought a real passion to the character:

And according to a barista who passed Hal Ashby once on a street corner in L.A., Merchashi brought out a soft side in Gordon, settled her down, lightened her up:

He even set up a date between Gordon and the camerawoman (she had a very deep voice that Gordon had always liked). The sexual tension between Gordon and the mystery gal behind the lens is clear in this footage that the Avid guy's mom "saved" from the cutting floor when she brought his liverwurst sandwiches in at lunchtime.

The last word on the love affair came from Ashby's nephew's neighbor Ed, who claims the apple was Gordon's advance, a sort of "Come hither, camerawoman." These were the Golden Days, weren't they, when there was that kind of innocence to be lost. Get that apple, girl. She's ready for a close-up.


Thanks for the Birthday Make-Believe Day, boys.
Lifetimes of love and all hands on knees!


The presentation of this archival material has been made possible by a generous grant from the Maude Kennedy Foundation. Mieu, Maude. To your health.

Love you, Maudie.