7.4/10
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60 user 51 critic

A New Leaf (1971)

Henry Graham lives the life of a playboy. When his lawyer tells him one day that his lifestyle has consumed all his funds, he needs an idea to avoid climbing down the social ladder. So he intends to marry a rich woman and - murder her.

Director:

Elaine May

Writers:

Elaine May, Jack Ritchie (story "The Green Heart")
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Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Walter Matthau ... Henry Graham
Elaine May ... Henrietta Lowell
Jack Weston ... Andy McPherson
George Rose George Rose ... Harold
James Coco ... Uncle Harry
Doris Roberts ... Mrs. Traggert
Renée Taylor ... Sharon Hart
William Redfield ... Beckett
Graham Jarvis ... Bo
Jess Osuna Jess Osuna ... Frank
David Doyle ... Mel
Fred Stewart ... Mr. von Rensaeller
Mark Gordon Mark Gordon ... John
Rose Arrick Rose Arrick ... Gloria Cunliffe
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Storyline

Henry Graham is a man with a problem: he has run through his entire inheritance, and is completely unequipped to provide for himself. His childhood guardian, Uncle Harry (a deliciously mean-spirited James Coco), refuses to give him a dime, and Henry, completely unwilling to exercise the only solution he sees--suicide-- devises a plan with the help of his imaginative butler: he can make money the old-fashioned way--he can marry it. With a temporary loan from Uncle Harry to tide him over, Henry has six weeks to find a bride, marry her, and repay the money, or else he must forfeit all his property to his uncle. With only days remaining, Henry meets clumsy, painfully shy heiress Henrietta Lowell (played by director Elaine May). She's the answer to his prayers--if only Henry can overcome the obstacles placed in his path by Uncle Harry, Henrietta's lawyer, and Henry's own reluctance to wed. Written by Drew from Baltimore

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Romeo and Juliet, Bob and Bing, Ulysses and Grant, George and Martha, Martha and John, Bob and Carol, Ted and Alice, Bob and Alice, Ted and Carol, Bob and Ted, Carol and Alice, Pat and Dick, Julie and David, Byron and His Sister, Bill and Coo, Liz and Eddie, Liz and Mike, Liz and Dick, Dick and Sybil, Eddie and Debbie, Muck and Meyer, Hollywood and Vine, Anthony and Cleopatra, and now Henry & Henrietta... the love couple of the seventies... and the laugh riot of the year. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Romance

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 July 1971 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Bogata, wolna, samotna See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

There are two Ferraris in the film. One is a 1966 275GTB and the other is a 1967 275GTB4. The GTB has a two cam engine, the Ferrari decal is to the left of the rear license plate, and a smooth hood. The GTB4 has the 4 cam engine, a raised section in the center of the hood, a Ferrari decal to the right of the rear license plate, and competition gas cap on the right rear fender. See more »

Quotes

Henrietta: [said several times] Heavens!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Fantasy No.1
(uncredited)
Music by Johnny Mandel
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Brilliant, edgy socio/romantic comedy; flawless
3 April 2003 | by wisaacsSee all my reviews

This film stands up as one of the most sophisticated and heartfelt comedies ever put to celluloid. Watch it alongside "Hobson's Choice", "Hail The Conquering Hero", "The Apartment", "Shop Around The Corner", "Father Goose", "Trouble In Paradise", and "Love Streams". Although not a romance, "The Ladykillers" is a black comedy with a similar tone. See if "A New Leaf" doesn't hold up to these consensus classics.

Romance always involves the conflict between selfish vanity and naive devotion or love.

Most romantic comedies simply give up the fight at the end, and collapse into gooey, deluded sentimentality (e.g. "French Kiss", "Roxanne"). Some err in the opposite way, concluding on a bittersweet ambivalent implication that love is always dulled or compromised (e.g. "Nothing In Common", "Chasing Amy", "Purple Rose Of Cairo").

The acid test of a romantic comedy screenplay is its balance, its resolution of this issue. Can the lovers truly satisfy each other, without either one abusing or sacrificing his unique character, his intellect, his humanity?

The more starkly and intelligently these forces are presented and opposed, the more difficult the problem. Imagine, then, the most selfish, vain, sarcastic and sophisticated man imaginable, meeting and marrying (for her money) an utterly naive, pure, awkward, cloistered academic woman; a botanist.

Fans of irony enjoy silly dated romances for the stereotypes, the gratuitous sloppy honeyed sentiment, the emotional denial. "A New Leaf" does not shrink from the harsh side of the world, from the dark human character, and (except for the music) it has not dated an hour since its release.

The score may be slightly dated, mixed too high in places, but the music is sweet uptown Manhattan violin-muzak, reminiscent of "Theme From A Summer Place", so why quibble?

Henry Graham marries Henrietta Lowell intending to kill her. He is too bad to be true. Yet, his venal motives are only an exaggeration of our own. He doesn't want to be married; he wants to be free! He doesn't want to share, he wants everything for himself! He has never needed people to like him. Only now, he is desperate for money.

Henrietta, Henry's opposite, is foremost a botanist. She is a pure academic, uninitiated in the ways of sophistication, deception, vanity or power, despite her wealth. Her mind is unprejudiced, but intensely isolated, focused. She lives in a rarefied climate. Her dream in life is to discover and catalog a new species of plant, a "new leaf", which would cause her name to be modestly memorialized in the scientific literature.

These two opposites must combine in everyone. It is the problem of romance, most precisely stated. We love. We trust. Yet, we have infantile desires and vanities. We must struggle in a corrupt world that doesn't give a damn about our delicate preoccupations, to wrest from it the admiration and pleasure our dark hearts desire. We are Henry, we are Henrietta. Can these characters love each other? Can we accept, integrate ourselves?

"A New Leaf" rollicks with endlessly clever, sarcastic, inventive, trenchant dialog, reels through convoluted and finely wrought complications, revels in every character, each played by a brilliant comedian. Matthau was born to play this archetype of morbid, deranged, malevolent and dissolute urbanity. Elaine May conjures an ineffable, lethal sexiness, her myopic naivete perfectly complementing her gentle intellectual clarity. The film is an immaculate, fierce, luminous, huge-hearted gem.


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