The Way We Were
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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags are used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for The Way We Were can be found here.

Several years after they graduated from college, Jewish political activist Katie Morosky (Barbra Streisand) runs into blond, all-American jock Hubbell Gardiner (Robert Redford). Hubbell is now in the navy and reduced to sleeping on barstools when on leave. Katie takes Hubbell to her apartment, lets him use her bed, and invites him to stay with her whenever he's in town and in need of a place to sleep. Hubbell takes her up on her offer and, as they get to know each other better, they eventually wind up falling in love and getting married. However, Katie's activism and ties with the Communist Party continues to haunt them as Hubble tries to become a screenwriter in Hollywood during HUAC's investigation into communist propaganda and influence in the motion picture industry.

The screenplay for The Way We Were was written by American playwright and screenwriter Arthur Laurents based on his experiences with political activism during his college days at Cornell University.

The story spans about 20 years, opening in 1944 as evidenced by the dialogue in the radio play where D-Day (6 June 1944) is mentioned. There follows a flashback to 1937, the year Edward VIII abdicated the throne and married Wallis Simpson, showing how Katie and Hubbell became acquainted with each other during their graduating year in college. The story progresses through the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1945), the HUAC "Hollywood Blacklist" hearings (which began in 1947) and Hubbell's revised draft for A Country Made of Ice Cream, dated September 1947. It then proceeds through Katie and Hubbell's move to Hollywood, and into the late 1950s, evidenced by Hubbell's mention of the "Golden Age" of live television, which was at its peak in the mid- to late-50s. The story ends with Katie handing out "Ban the Bomb" flyers. The American "Ban The Bomb" movement was gaining momentum in 1957 (the White House received petitions with 37,000 signatures that year from citizens opposed to nuclear testing, and the Federation of American Scientists also proposed a ban on nuclear testing in 1957). 1937 through 1957 is 20 years.

The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) was an investigative committee of the U.S. House of Representatives originally created in 1938 to investigate alleged disloyalty and subversive activities of anyone suspected of having Nazi ties. After the end of WWII and rise of the Cold War, the committee's focus changed to the activities of suspected Communists.

Dubonnet over ice. Dubonnet is a sweet, spiced wine with a small amount of quinine, originally fashioned as a way of getting French Foreign Legionnaires in North Africa to drink quinine, which combats malaria but is very bitter.

That's Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States (from 1933 to 1945). In 1944, he ran against the Republican candidate, Thomas E. Dewey, whose campaign flyers Katie dumps in the trash bin.

"K-K-K-Katy" refers to a song published in 1918 by Canadian-American composer Geoffrey O'Hara and popularized during the aftermath of World War I [1914-1918]. The song tells the story of a young soldier who stutters when trying to speak to girls. The song's chorus is as follows:

K-K-K-Katy, beautiful Katy,
You're the only g-g-g-girl that I adore;
When the m-m-m-moon shines,
Over the c-c-c-cowshed,
I'll be waiting at the k-k-k-kitchen door.

Any scenes that may have been shot of their wedding did not make it into the final cut. That they are married, however, is alluded to in the scene where they are unpacking after moving to Hollywood. Katie takes the bride and groom wedding cake-topper out of a box and puts it on a shelf, an indication that they are married. From then on, Katie wears a gold wedding band on the ring finger of her left hand, and when she is in the hospital having her baby, she is referred to as "Mrs Gardiner".

"Rokhle", which is just the Yiddish pronunciation (and essentially the Hebrew pronunciation) of Rachel.

There was. Ten motion picture artists, mostly screenwriters, were initially blacklisted by the industry after being convicted for refusal to answer questions posed by HUAC committee members. Eventually, the boycott extended to more than 300 artists.

Yes. Hubbell's indiscretion with Carol Ann (Lois Chiles), while not shown graphically, is suggested in the scene where Hubbell meets Carol Ann on the stairs and she invites him home for a "bon voyage" drink the night before she moves back to New York. It's also alluded to in the next scene where, after watching a movie screening, Katie questions Hubbell about it, admits that she heard about it from "a friend", and asks why he had to go "back to Beekman Place."

Beekman Place is a very exclusive, upscale, affluent enclave on Manhattan's East Side; its very name conjures up wealth and privilege. It was also the place where Hubbell's friends would gather for their parties that Katie couldn't stand. Katie contemptuously refers to Carol Ann as "Beekman Place," equating her with a ritzy, expensive piece of property. Following is a description of Beekman Place from a website of interesting places sponsored by the Turtle Bay Association.


Beekman Place: The two blocks east of First Avenue (49th and 50th Streets) rise up to a bluff that overlooks the East River. This hill originally included the property of James Beekman's colonial mansion, Mount Pleasant, built in 1763. Walking tours point out the distinctive row of town houses remodeled in the 1920s.Since the early development of Manhattan, Beekman Place has enjoyed a quiet elegance that makes it one of Manhattan's most sought after addresses. An enclave of old money, the hill was home to members of the Rockefeller family and Huntington Hartford. Theatrical personalities also enjoyed the high life on Beekman Place, among them Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, Ethel Barrymore, Katharine Cornell and Irving Berlin. Several famous people lived at the large apartment building, 1 Beekman Place, which is at the corner of Beekman and Mitchell Place, including novelists Mary McCarthy and John P. Marquand. Remember the novel and subsequent film Auntie Mame? This was where Patrick Dennis's real Aunt Mame lived! [Source]

After their baby is born, Katie and Hubbell go their separate ways. By accident, they run into each other several years later when Katie, now back in New York and avidly protesting the bomb, notices Hubbell and a blonde woman getting into a taxi in front of the Plaza Hotel. Katie runs over to them and asks Hubbell what he's doing in New York. He's writing for a TV sitcom, he explains. Katie invites him and his lady friend for a drink with her and her husband, "the only David X. Cohen in the book," but Hubbell refuses the invitation. He asks about his daughter, and Katie says that Rachel is beautiful and that he'd be very proud of her. They exchange pointed silence while looking into each others' eyes, lingering in the memories of the way they once were. Then Katie brushes Hubbell's hair from his forehead and they embrace each other. The tender moment ends, and Katie hands Hubbell a "Ban the Bomb" flyer. They back away from each, saying only, "See you." In the final scene, Katie returns to the streets crying, "Ban the bomb!", and handing flyers to the passersby.

Deadbeat is a term referring to parents of either gender that are not financially supportive of their children. There is no indication in the movie that Hubbell was not sending alimony or support money to Katie. What can be said about Hubbell is that he has apparently chosen not to be in their lives. Hubbell lives in California making TV shows, while Katie and Rachel live in New York, separated by a distance of almost 3,000 miles. In the 1950s, people didn't just hop on a plane and fly coast-to-coast for a weekend or two every few months. Another point to remember is that divorce and custody issues were very different in the 1950s when judged by today's standards. There was no such thing then as "no-fault" divorce; one person always had to be at fault and, in this case, Hubbell's infidelity was the likely grounds. Also, it was customary then for the woman to retain full custody of the children and for the father to quietly disappear so that each person could "get on with their lives." In Hubbell's defense and looking at it through 1950s eyes, Katie had remarried and given Rachel a good father, and it would have been considered confusing for Rachel to have two fathers. Being the type of person who always takes the easy way, Hubbell consequently felt it was simply better for them all to cut the ties and let go. Finally, it's a direct characterization of a line in the "Memories" theme song that goes "What's too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget."

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