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A New Leaf, the deliciously dark and deadpan comedy from writer-director-comedian Elaine May (The Heartbreak Kid), stars Walter Matthau (The Odd Couple) as Henry Graham, who, due to his extravagant lifestyle, has run through his inheritance. After pleading with his incredulous Uncle Harry (played with lip-smacking glee by James Coco, Such Good Friends) for a loan, Henry convinces Uncle Harry to give him the money with the proviso that the loan must be repaid within six weeks or Henry will forfeit all of his property used as collateral. With the aid of his gentleman's gentleman, Harold (a scene-stealing George Rose, The Pirates of Penzance), Henry decides to marry into wealth, and once the vows have been taken he'll decide how to handle getting out of the marriage. Enter wealthy heiress Henrietta Lowell (May), a klutzy botanist and the woman of Henry's get-rich-quick-scheme dreams. But as best laid plans often go, Henry must weather the obstacles placed in his path not only by his Uncle Harry, but by Andy McPherson (Jack Weston, Wait Until Dark), Henrietta's jealous and unscrupulous lawyer. Adding to the amusement are William Redfield (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) as Beckett, Henry's bemused, put-upon lawyer and Doris Roberts (TV's Everybody Loves Raymond) as Mrs. Traggert, Henrietta's pilfering housekeeper.
Upon its 1971 theatrical release, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote that A New Leaf was "One of the funniest movies of our unfunny age," "hilarious, and cockeyed, and warm." Prescient comments indeed.