A New Leaf (1971)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Black Comedy, Crime Comedy  |   Release Date - Mar 11, 1971 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 102 min.  |   Countries - USA  |   MPAA Rating - G
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Though she attempted to have her name removed after extensive studio re-editing and has since disowned the film, comedy writer-performer Elaine May need not be ashamed of her directorial debut A New Leaf (1971). A somewhat retro screwball comedy about the reformation of Walter Matthau's wealthy and conceited Henry Graham through an unlikely romance with May's flaky botanist Henrietta, A New Leaf deftly sends up the excesses and idiocy of the rich, beginning with an adroit sight gag involving Henry's ever-ailing sports car. Matthau is the pompous twit incarnate, but it's no surprise that even he cannot resist May's touchingly comic bumbler as she mulls over the difference between her hopes and her dreams and immortalizes Henry as a botany footnote. The supporting cast, including James Coco as Henry's overstuffed uncle and George Rose as Henry's efficient butler, is equally as strong. Though the pacing is by no means perfect and the ending a tad abrupt, May's writerly dexterity and her way with the actors neatly overcome whatever harm may have been inflicted by the studio. Much to the disappointment of May's fans, the New Leaf director's cut has yet to surface.