Harold and Maude is a 1971 American comedy film directed by Hal Ashby. It incorporates elements of dark humor and existentialist drama, with a plot that revolves around the exploits of a young man intrigued with death, Harold (played by Bud Cort). Harold drifts away from the life that his detached mother prescribes for him, and develops a relationship with an elderly woman named Maude (played by Ruth Gordon). The screenplay upon which the film was based was written by Colin Higgins, and published as a novel in 1971. The movie was shot in the San Francisco Bay Area. Harold and Maude was also a play on Broadway for some time. A French adaptation for television, translated and written by Jean-Claude Carrière, appeared in 1978. It was adapted for the stage and performed in Québec, starring Roy Dupuis. The film is ranked number 45 on the American Film Institute's list of 100 Funniest Movies of all Time, and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 1997 for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." The film was a commercial flop in its original release, and critical reception was extremely mixed. However, it has since developed a large cult following.