Based on Jack Ritchie’s short story “The Green Heart,” Elaine May’s directorial debut is a delightfully batty and sharply hilarious comedy of (attempted) murders. Playing intriguingly against type, Walter Matthau stars as spoiled playboy Henry Graham, who, having depleted his substantial inheritance, reluctantly woos and quickly marries heiress Henrietta Lowell (May), a clumsy and unsophisticated botanist whom Graham describes as “positively feral.” Unable to abide her klutzy destruction of his stylish lifestyle, Graham devises a scheme to do away with his bride and snag her fortune; complications inevitably ensue. May’s original, reportedly much darker 180-minute cut of the film was sliced nearly in half by Paramount, leading the writer-director to unsuccessfully sue to prevent its release; but while May more or less disowned the film, it has become a much-loved cult classic. “Often brilliant and frequently hilarious … May’s savage take on her characters irresistibly recalls Stroheim; she’s at once tender and corrosive (as well as narcissistic and self-hating)” (Jonathan Rosenbaum).

With no ‘carbon on the values’ A New Leaf is screening as part of the TIFF Funny Girl: The Films Of Elaine May series preceded by the short Bach To Bach on Friday, June 8th @ 6:30pm. Enjoy!

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