The life of Fanny Brice, famed comedienne and entertainer of the early 1900s. We see her rise to fame as a Ziegfield girl, subsequent career and her personal life, particularly her relationship with Nick Arnstein.
The often unlikely joint lives of Katie Morosky and Hubbell Gardiner from the late 1930s to the late 1950s is presented, over which time, they are, in no particular order, strangers, acquaintances, friends, best friends, lovers and adversaries. The unlikely nature of their relationship is due to their fundamental differences, where she is Jewish and passionate about her political activism both in political freedoms and Marxism to an extreme where she takes life a little too seriously, while he is the golden boy WASP, being afforded the privileges in life because of his background but who on the most part is able to capitalize on those privileges. Their lives are shown in four general time periods, in chronological order when they attend the same college, their time in New York City during WWII, his life as a Hollywood screenwriter post-war, and his life as a writer for a New York based live television show. It is during college that Hubbell finds his voice in life as a writer, and ... Written by
Marvin Hamlisch originally did not include the title theme music in the final scene when Katie hugs Hubbell. After the first preview showing fell flat, he changed his mind. The studio didn't want to pay the $15,000 cost of redoing the scene, so Hamlisch returned that sum out of his film paycheck to make the change. See more »
Near the beginning of the movie, as Hubble is dancing with Katie, you can see her pearl ring on her finger go from the pearl centered on her ring finger to the ring turned and the pearl is down next to her little finger. The pearl is then centered again on her finger. It also looks like the ring changes size from fitting her snugly to being loose then fitting snugly again. See more »
The theme of a golden boy falling for a girl from "another world", be it social class, the "wrong side of the tracks" or fill in your cliché here, is one that goes back to the silent film era. One of the most famous examples is Sydney Pollack's 1973 film "The Way We Were". Set from the 1930's through the 1950's, Barbra Streisand plays Katie, an outspoken member of the Communist party and campus activist who does not have anything handed to her; she works two and sometimes three jobs in order to pay for her living and college tuition. Hubble (Redford) is your typical aforementioned golden boy, a "big man on campus" who indulges in sports, debutantes and all-around good times. The two know each other from the diner Katie works at (he being the patron) and at one point before graduation, briefly bond over their shared passion for writing. Cut to a few years in the future and Katie encounters Hubble at a bar. Hubble is in the armed forces and Katie is characteristically working a couple of jobs while volunteering for various social causes. After a night of drunken sex (Hubble being the drunken one) they embark on an unlikely relationship that spans over a decade and includes a move to California (when Hubble becomes a screenwriter in Hollywood) and the conception of one child. They are happy, but realize that regardless of their desire, they can't completely cross social lines and certainly can't change one another, particularly Katie's ever-ferocious dedication to social causes; a fight that becomes exponentially heated during McCarthy's Red Scare. The two have to decide whether they can sustain enough raw emotion for one another to persevere over everything else that is stacked up against them.
There are several things about "The Way We Were" that require suspension of disbelief (the fact that despite never having had much contact with one another that after one night of drunken lust and an awkward "morning after" being enough to kick start a relationship the magnitude of theirs is the first thing that comes to mind) but the bottom line is that it really is a well-written, well-directed and well-acted film. The two principal characters are full and complex, regardless of whether we are talking about the socially conscience Katie or the socially acceptable Hubble. I suspect they somewhat were written with the intent of familiarity for the purpose of effectiveness, and if this is true, it worked on me. The era in which these two characters were set was a very interesting time in American history, and the characters' actions during these times created some compelling cinema, particularly when it touched on the Red Scare.
But who am I fooling? The main reason people watch this movie, whether for the first time or for the fiftieth is for the doomed romance, and Streisand and Redford deliver in spades. "The Way We Were" was written for Streisand, (something that cause Redford to turn down the part at first, because he knew the film was going to be hers) and her portrayal of Katie is excellent. There are so many perceptions of Streisand nowadays (some of them correct, to be sure) that it's easy to forget that she really does have some serious acting chops, and she exhibits them to full effect here. I also happened to learn that the soft filtered lens thing with her didn't just start with her later movies, for whatever reason she was filmed with that lens more often than not here, but that didn't do anything more than slightly distract me because I couldn't help but chuckle. Redford gives a typical solid performance as well, though his initial doubts about taking the role turned out to be valid; he is not the dynamic figure in the film. However, his character is a strong one and Redford does a good job.
I don't know if Pollack knew he was creating a screen classic when he directed "The Way We Were" but he did make a very good film. If you can make it past some major melodrama and some plot holes (what was the deal with their child?) watch this film, and just sit back and appreciate it for what it is a chick flick that guys don't have to feel ashamed watching. 7/10 --Shelly
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