While a film student at UCLA, writer/director Colin Higgins made a short subject for his master's thesis. That short was later expanded into the 1970 feature film Harold and Maude, which also represented Higgins' debut as a producer. Combining Higgins' two favorite movie elements, slapstick comedy and sudden death, Harold and Maude was a box-office failure but an almost instantaneous cult success. Five years later, Higgins scored his first tangible movie hit, Silver Streak (1975), which characteristically used a suspense-film plotline upon which to mount several first-rate comic sequences. The same formula was applied to Higgins' next moneymaker, Foul Play (1978). Higgins' dark streak was never more pronounced than in the feminist comedy Nine to Five (1980), which became Higgins' most successful film yet, winning him the plum assignment of directing the movie adaptation of the Broadway hit The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Overlong, overloud and badly cast, Whorehouse turned out to be Higgins' biggest flop, as well as his last theatrical film. Shortly after serving as producer and screenwriter for Out on a Limb, Colin Higgins died of AIDS at the age of 47.