119 Great Directors: Hal Ashby

“I was born in Ogden, Utah, the last of four children. Mom and Dad divorced when I was five or six. Dad killed himself when I was 12. I struggled toward growing up, like others, totally confused. Married and divorced twice before I made it to 21. Hitchhiked to Los Angeles when I was 17. Had about 50 or 60 jobs up to the time I was working as a Multilith operator at good old Republic Studios.”

What Got This Director Here?
: His 70s work.

My Favorite Past Experience Was…: N/A.

What Did I Watch: Harold and Maude.

Where Does He Fit: Harold and Maude is one of my father’s favorite films, but he’d bizarrely never made me see it, and I unsurprisingly had some issues with it (we do not share much taste). Bud Cort is sort of a dud, but this is surmountable. Ruth Gordon is lovely and sunny, but perhaps too overutilized, as are some of the jokes and quirks of the characters (enough with the suicide attempts). The direction is fairly great, however, with a stunner of an opening shot thanks to the wonderful soundtrack that is easily the film’s greatest asset, wistful and retro in the right ways.


Most Valuable Asset: Sympathy for the outsider.
Most Excited For: Last Detail.
Did They Deserve a Spot?: Maybe.

Coming Up Next: Visionary surrealist Jean Cocteau.


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