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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

Directed by Hal Ashby
USA 1971

 

With the idiosyncratic American fable Harold and Maude, countercultural director Hal Ashby fashioned what would become the cult classic of its era. Working from a script by Colin Higgins, Ashby tells the story of the emotional and romantic bond between a death-obsessed young man (Bud Cort) from a wealthy family and a devil-may-care, bohemian octogenarian (Ruth Gordon). Equal parts gallows humor and romantic innocence, Harold and Maude dissolves the line between darkness and light along with the ones that separate people by class, gender, and age, and it features indelible performances and a remarkable soundtrack by Cat Stevens.

***

A box office failure upon its initial release in 1971 which slowly but surely amassed a global cult following, Harold and Maude (1971) is one of those cinematic oddities that is hard to imagine being made within the confines of today's film industry. It certainly wasn't any less unusual for the era in which it was made except that the film's quirky tone that shifted from black comedy to anti-establishment satire and the inspired casting of Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon gave it a resonance for young audiences that was further enhanced by the music of Cat Stevens who was at the height of his pop music career in 1972.

Posters

Theatrical Release: December 20th, 1971

Reviews                                                                                                       More Reviews                                                                                       DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

Criterion Collection Spine # 608 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray vs. Masters of Cinema - Spine # 83 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray vs. Paramount - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Box Cover

 

 

  

Distribution Criterion Collection Spine # 608 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray Masters of Cinema - Spine # 83 - Region 'B' - Blu-ray Paramount - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:31:44.415         1:31:31.486 1:31:30.943
Video

1.85:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 38,425,602,802 bytes

Feature: 28,763,080,704 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

1.85:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 34,501,803,982 bytes

Feature: 28,942,951,872 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.22 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

1.85:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 31,694,839,355 bytes

Feature: 28,912,558,080 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate Criterion Collection Spine # 608 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray:

Bitrate Masters of Cinema - Spine # 83 - Region 'B' - Blu-ray:

Bitrate Paramount - Region FREE - Blu-ray:

Audio

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit

Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 320 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 320 kbps

Dolby TrueHD Audio English 3115 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2475 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Embedded: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -27dB)
Dolby Digital Audio French 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -27dB
Dolby Digital Audio German 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -27dB
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -27dB

Subtitles English (SDH), None English (SDH), None English (SDH), English, German, French, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion Collection Spine # 608

1.85:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 38,425,602,802 bytes

Feature: 28,763,080,704 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Edition Details:

Audio commentary by Hal Ashby biographer Nick Dawson and producer Charles B. Mulvehill
Illustrated audio excerpts of seminars by Ashby (13:17) and writer-producer Colin Higgins (13:09)
New interview with songwriter Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) - 11:05

Liner notes booklet featuring a new essay by film critic Matt Zoller Seitz; a 1971 New York Times profile of star Ruth Gordon; and two excerpted interviews, one from 1997 with star Bud Cort and cinematographer John Alonzo and one from 2001 with executive producer Mildred Lewis
 

Blu-ray Release Date: June 12th, 2012
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters 23

Release Information:
Studio:
Masters of Cinema - Spine # 83

 

1.85:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 34,501,803,982 bytes

Feature: 28,942,951,872 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.22 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

New and exclusive video discussion of the film by critic David Cairns (25:44)
Audio commentary by Hal Ashby biographer Nick Dawson and producer Charles B. Mulvehill
40-PAGE BOOKLET featuring archival interviews with director Hal Ashby and writer-producer Colin Higgins, a 1971 profile of star Ruth Gordon, and rare archival imagery.


Blu-ray Release Date:
July 14th, 2014
Standard Transparent Blu-ray Case inside slipcase

Chapters 25

Release Information:
Studio:
Paramount

 

1.85:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 31,694,839,355 bytes

Feature: 28,912,558,080 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

Commentary with Larry Karaszewski and Cameron Crowe
Yusuf/Cat Stevens on Harold And Maude (5:48)
Trailer 1 (2:31)
Trailer 2 (2:42)


Blu-ray Release Date:
December 7th, 2021
Standard Blu-ray Case custom package (see below)

Chapters 26

 

Paramount - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Paramount - Blu-ray (January 2022): Criterion and Masters of Cinema produced Blu-rays of Hal Ashby's Harold and Maude in 2012 and 2014 respectively. Surprisingly, there were differences, albeit minor, in the video despite the parity of the robustness of the transfers (both dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate.) The Masters of Cinema showed both more grain and tighter visuals. Zooming in we can see the Criterion is marginally softer. Colors match up exactly with a few scenes showing minutely cooler skin tones on the MoC. Most systems won't note the differences - but they are there.

In December 2021 Paramount released a 4K restored 1080P Blu-ray transfer of Harold and Maude. It has some stronger differences. Firstly, looking beside the older two transfers, this new Paramount is cropped - removing information on the left and top of the frame. It's a surprisingly large amount and a bit head-scratching. As far as the colors go - it can look yellow-green, which can appear more accurate in certain scenes. 

For the audio, Criterion and Masters of Cinema offered the option of linear PCM tracks for both stereo and mono tracks. But Paramount forgo the authentic flat soundstage and replace it with a 5.1 surround bump in Dolby TrueHD (only 16-bit.) This will not appeal to purists. Unnecessary separations are not distinctive but it may export a more robust bass response. The Cat Stevens songs - "Where Do the Children Play?", "On the Road to Find Out", "Don't Be Shy" etc.- that fill the film sound impressive, clean and buoyant. Paramount's Region FREE Blu-ray offers a French and German DUB and optional subtitles in those languages including English and English (SDH.) 

Included as a Criterion supplements is an audio commentary, recorded by the them in 2011, featuring Nick Dawson, author of Being Hal Ashby: Life of a Hollywood Rebel and Harold and Maude producer Chares B. Mulvehill covering many aspects of the production and Ashby the man. We get two illustrated audio excerpts from the 70's American Film Institute seminars - one from Hal Ashby running 13-minutes, sharing his thoughts about Harold and Maude and the second, from 1979, has Colin Higgins and the screenwriter speaks of recollections of the writing and making of Harold and Maude. There was also a 2011 11-minute interview with acclaimed singer-songwriter Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) who discusses the landmark soundtrack for Harold and Maude. The package has a liner notes booklet featuring a new essay by film critic Matt Zoller Seitz; a 1971 New York Times profile of star Ruth Gordon; and two excerpted interviews, one from 1997 with star Bud Cort and cinematographer John Alonzo and one from 2001 with executive producer Mildred Lewis.

Masters of Cinema offer the same audio commentary as the Criterion
Blu-ray with Hal Ashby biographer Nick Dawson and producer Charles B. Mulvehill (from 2011) but added a 2014 26-minute video discussion of the film by critic David Cairns and another of their extensive liner notes booklets - a 40-page one featuring archival interviews with director Hal Ashby and writer-producer Colin Higgins, a 1971 profile of star Ruth Gordon, and rare archival imagery.

The 2021 Paramount Blu-ray has a commentary with Larry Karaszewski and Cameron Crowe. It's laid back but very informative. They adore the film and impart plenty of interesting information - it's worth the listen - especially for fans of Harold and Maude. There is also a 6-minute video piece with Yusuf/Cat Stevens on Harold And Maude and two trailers.

Paramount's Blu-ray of Hal Ashby's Harold and Maude has some strong negatives with the cropped, green-bias, image - albeit 4K-restored - and lack of a mono audio option. The Karaszewski / Crowe commentary is a bona fide positive but the Masters of Cinema or Criterion may still be considered the more definitive Blu-ray release. It's a shame that Paramount couldn't have improved on either of those editions for this delightful cult-classic with embraceable eclectic characters. It's a wonderfully re-watchable film - get the Region 'A' (if you can!) or Region 'B' Blu-ray.

Gary Tooze

 


Menus / Extras

 

Criterion Collection Spine # 608 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

Masters of Cinema - Spine # 83 - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

Paramount - Region FREE - Blu-ray


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample - Paramount - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 


1) Criterion Collection Spine # 608 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Spine # 83 - Region 'B' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Paramount - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion Collection Spine # 608 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Spine # 83 - Region 'B' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Paramount - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion Collection Spine # 608 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Spine # 83 - Region 'B' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Paramount - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion Collection Spine # 608 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Spine # 83 - Region 'B' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Paramount - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion Collection Spine # 608 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Spine # 83 - Region 'B' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Paramount - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion Collection Spine # 608 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Spine # 83 - Region 'B' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Paramount - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion Collection Spine # 608 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Spine # 83 - Region 'B' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Paramount - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion Collection Spine # 608 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Spine # 83 - Region 'B' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Paramount - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 
Box Cover

 

 

  

Distribution Criterion Collection Spine # 608 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray Masters of Cinema - Spine # 83 - Region 'B' - Blu-ray Paramount - Region FREE - Blu-ray


 


 

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