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364 Ratings

A New Leaf

Directed by Elaine May
United States, 1971
Comedy, Romance


Examines the vapid life of a born to wealth New Yorker. After he spends all of what was left to him, his questing after more (without bothersome labor) changes him. The main agent of change is a phenomenally passive and unassuming Henrietta Lowell.

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A New Leaf Directed by Elaine May

Awards & Festivals

Writers Guild of America

1972 | Nominee: Best Comedy Adapted from Another Medium (Screen)

Golden Globes (USA)

1972 | 2 nominations including: Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical

National Film Preservation Board

2019 | Winner: National Film Registry

“I can engage in any romantic activity with an urbanity born of disinterest,” Henry boasts to his highly skeptical plutocrat uncle (James Coco) as he lays out his plan to nab a wealthy bride. The line kills, its zing heightened by the discordance between the averment’s grandiosity and Matthau’s native Lower East Side diction.
January 18, 2019
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Although Ms. May repeatedly clashed with Paramount while making “A New Leaf” . . . the movie is flat-out great. In one of his best performances, Walter Matthau plays a bankrupt snob who schemes to marry a clumsy heiress and botany professor played with sneaky charm by Ms. May. Paramount took the film away from her, softening it (in her version, the Matthau character kills several people), but its genius remains.
May 02, 2018
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Matthau plays Henry as an unlikely mix of W.C. Fields and Cary Grant, while May never lets Henrietta’s ugly-duckling obliviousness curdle into something sweet. Her character is annoying, and some of the funniest moments in the film seem to find the writer-director-star siding with Henry against his unwitting victim. But May’s gift for the fine details of social awkwardly behavior continues to humanize the character, even when she seems to be dangling on the edge of caricature.
March 01, 2018
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