Whilst the hangdog appearance of Walter Matthau is easily recognisable, you may find yourself hard-pressed to name many of his films. The Odd Couple, Kotch, The Fortune Cookie, The Sunshine Boys and Hello, Dolly! Are all great films but he never seemed to fit the profile of a Hollywood leading man. In Elaine May’s directorial debut, A New Leaf, he play a highly unromantic bon vivant struggling to deal with a sudden change of circumstances.
Henry Graham (Matthau) is an ageing playboy who has spent his entire life living off his father’s inheritance. With no ambition, skills or direction in life he finds himself in a spot of bother when the money runs out. His butler (George Rose) suggests either suicide or marrying into money, and Henry reluctantly chooses the latter. He borrows $50,000 from his uncle (James Coco) and is given six weeks to pay it back or he will lose everything he owns. He busily sets about trying to find a suitable victim but is about to give up when he stumbles on a bumbling botanist, Henrietta Lowel (May), at a tea party.
Although May was unhappy with the final cut of A New Leaf (reportedly an hour was removed) it’s a very funny black comedy about an equally desperate couple. Whilst Henry is busily trying to find ways to bump off his new bride, she is desperate to discover a new species of plant and immortalise her name. As matters progress, it becomes crystal clear that what both of them need is each other. A New Leaf is a very funny kind hearted comedy about two lost souls.
- New high definition digital transfer with exclusive image restoration
- Uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
- The Bluebeard of Happiness, a new video essay by critic David Cairns
- 24-PAGE BOOKLET featuring new writing on the film by critic Glenn Kenny, plus archival images
A New Leaf is released on Dual Format by Eureka as part of their Masters of Cinema Collection on Monday.