The cliff where Harold drives his car over the edge
"Well, if you want to sing out, sing out, and if you want to be free, be free."
The most challenging and thrilling for last.
This is the scene where, after finding out that Maude is dead, Harold drives and drives at breakneck speeds over increasingly secondary roads, finally approaching an oceanfront cliff and driving off it. The car crashes on the rocks below, and the camera slowly pans up the cliff ... to reveal Harold, holding the banjo that Maude gave him. He begins plucking out the movie's main Cat Stevens theme, and dances a jig as he moves away from the cliff.
This cliff is at Mori Point in Pacifica, and it's a bit of a hike to get there. On Bradford Way, just off Route 1, there's a Loyal Order of the Moose Lodge, a large red wooden building. Right behind the Lodge, where Bradford Way meets Mori Point Road, there's a gated trail leading almost due west, behind the homes on Seaside Drive. Follow this fairly straight, level trail for about half a mile. Just as the trail begins to curve around toward the right (north) and follow the shore, turn left and climb a set of rough wooden stairs built into the hillside. When you reach an intersecting trail at the flat area at the top, you are just about at the point where the hearse goes over the cliff; walk due west from this intersection to the edge of the cliff and look down. That's where the hearse crashes. But what you really want is the camera's view of this scene. For that, you need to continue walking south along the cliff. Keep looking back and comparing it to the image below, until you get to the right spot:
As you can tell by the horizon line compared to the point of land, I'm still higher than the camera that was filming the scene. But to get to the exact spot, we would have had to walk off-trail, and it seemed like an ecologically-sensitive area, so I didn't feel right doing that. This seemed to be close enough.
Fun fact: Harold's car freezes in mid-air when the view cuts from the wide angle view to the closeup view of the car. This was unintentional... the one camera filming this closeup view started late and didn't capture the initial part of the car's descent. And the production only had the one hearse ... there were no second chances!
[Appendix A: Unvisited Scenes]
[Appendix B: Research Sites and Other Links]
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