Best remembered for writing the Hal Ashby-directed black comedy, "Harold and Maude" (1971), Higgins' scripts have ridden the wave of cultural trends or made reference to past masters of the genre. He endured five lean years before scoring again with the original screenplay "Silver Streak" (1976) a comedy adventure directed by Arthur Hiller and starring Richard Pryor, Gene Wilder and Jill Clayburgh. For the chance to direct his next screenplay, "Foul Play" (1978), he sold it to Paramount for a cut rate. The detective comedy starring Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn was a box office hit and consolidated Higgins' reputation. There was no denying that both scripts owed more than a little to Alfred Hitchcock. He went on to co-script and direct the Dolly Parton vehicles "9 to 5" (1980) and "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" (1982), both of whose story lines gave women the upper hand in the ongoing battle of the sexes.
Higgins made occasional acting appearances, as in John Landis' crime comedy "Into The Night" (1985) where he joined a slew of other directors in cameo vignettes, and John Boorman's meditation on war "Hope and Glory" (1987). He had roles in two landmark British TV productions, "The Naked Civil Servant: The Autobiography of Quentin Crisp" (1975) and "Brideshead Revisited" (1982).
He completed a number of scripting and directing projects for the small screen, among them, the script for "The Devil's Daughter" (1973), as well as adapting both "Foul Play (1981) and "9 to 5" (1982-83; syndication 1987) into half-hour series. He co-wrote and co-produced "Out on a Limb" (1987) featuring Shirley MacLaine as herself in the miniseries based on her autobiographical writings.
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20-minute drama written for Masters thesis became basis for hit cult feature, ""Harold and Maude"
TV-movie acting debut, "The Heist"
TV-movie scriptwriting debut, "The Devil's Daughter"
Sold feature length screenplay, "Silver Streak"
Feature acting debut, "The Shout"
Directorial debut (and screenplay), "Foul Play"