A NEW LEAF
Celebrating its 50th anniversary, this screwball classic finds a spoiled playboy learning that his inheritance has dried up and trying to woo a rich, clumsy botanist.
Even before she created a streak of unforgettable, offbeat films, Philadelphia-born entertainment legend Elaine May (making her return to the screen in this year’s Closing Night feature THE SAME STORM) had already revolutionized the comedy world. Partnering with the late Mike Nichols, May ushered in a new era of progressive, off-the-wall improv that brought out the madness and humor of contemporary living while poking fun at the intellectuals who crowded the smoky cafes down in the village. Her directorial debut A NEW LEAF overflows with quick quips, outrageous acting, and a prophetic comic takedown of that now ubiquitous cinematic figure: the manchild. Laughably incompetent socialite Henry Graham (a not-yet-grumpy Walter Matthau) is near suicidal when he learns that his luxurious, comfy lifestyle of butlers and extravagant dinners is coming to an end. His desperate attempt to marry one of his country club’s uppity socialites is hindered by his lack of any social grace. But when the frazzled, bookish, and rumored-to-be rich Henrietta (May) falls literally into his lap, Henry will stop at nothing to reach the altar. May would go on to create singular works like Mikey and Nicky, The Heartbreak Kid, and the extremely underrated Ishtar, but with A NEW LEAF her comic prowess and self-awareness were already firmly established.
CAST: Elaine May, Walter Matthau, Jack Weston, George Rose
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