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A New Leaf

Elaine May, U.S., 1971, 102 min.


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The first film from Elaine May (“The Heartbreak Kid,” “Mikey and Nicky”), “A New Leaf” tracks the desperate efforts of spoiled, self-absorbed Henry Graham (Walter Matthau), who has squandered his inheritance, to find a way to maintain his lavish lifestyle. Henry sees an opportunity when he meets Henrietta Lowell (May), an awkward and bookish heiress, and he develops a sinister plan to extract her money. Mike Nichols’ partner in the legendary comedy duo Nichols and May — and later the screenwriter of his films “The Birdcage” and “Primary Colors” — May is widely regarded as a comic genius, winning the National Medal for the Arts in 2013 for her “groundbreaking wit and a keen understanding of how humor can illuminate our lives.”


Intro and discussion by Carrie Courogen, author of a forthcoming biography of Elaine May, associate editor of Bright Wall/Dark Room, and freelance writer for publications such as Vanity Fair, Pitchfork, and Glamour.