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Oh, the way they used to make movies. Robert Redford and Babs. The ultimate
star-crossed lovers, him a privileged golden boy for whom everything came
too easy, but he knew it, and her a socialist politico who had to work
harder for everything because she was plain, jewish, and
Through Beekman Place, McCarthyism, Hollywood, World War II and the fact that they simply weren't cut out for each other, they tried until they couldn't try any more. Barbra is deep and intellectual, at least she wants to be, but ends up being the ultimate drama queen, "I'm not pretty enough for you, am I?" and "Nobody will ever love you like I do." Redford is aloof and chilly and beautiful and as shallow as a mud puddle.
BUT, if you can watch that last scene, "I can't Katie." "I know." and not open up the waterworks then pack up your DVD player and give it to the Goodwill, because movies are not for you.
Epic and anchored by the history of the century, The title, The Way We Were refers to all of us. It's how we once were when things mattered and we cared. Too often dismissed as a chick flick or a tear jerker, this is two of the best there ever were at their personal best.
I think the word for this movie is, gorgeous. Nothing I've seen (I haven't seen a lot, but still) has compared to the chemistry, the depth of feeling, and the realistic portrayal of two opposites both beautiful in their own right. This movie is a testament to the way we were really, how it was beautiful to be decadent and disgusting in the thriving 50's, of the attractive "waspishness" of Ivy leaguers, of politics and war. The movie is not dated either, its quality making it appealing to a whole spectrum of people who would normally not be interested in something this good. I first saw this movie in a history class and to my surprise most of the people in the class loved it, people who would normally go see "Titanic" and rave about it for days. I think that is, if not something else, at least evidence of this movie's depth, quality, feeling, (and although very sentimental) realism. If you enjoy the finer things in life, dim the lights, fix yourself a vodka martini straight up, and watch "The Way We Were".
Actually, "The Way We Were" is both, and happily so. It's a classy romantic period drama about a 1940s wallflower in New York who blooms in love with her ex-jock boyfriend (an old acquaintance from their college days), and the movie overflows with star-power. None of today's celebrities have the kind of chemistry Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford bring to the screen, and Streisand in particular is so deeply into this character that the herky-jerky editing and breathless writing don't harm her or get in the way (the faults can easily be overlooked). When writer Redford adapts his novel into a screenplay and the couple marries and moves to Hollywood in the McCarthy-Blacklist era, her passion for politics gets them both in hot water; that's where this script hits a snag, with increasingly melodramatic plotting (Redford's affair with a former flame) and confusion in the character motivations (this primarily due to hasty, eleventh-hour editing). Still, it is a handsomely-produced movie with a great tearjerker ending and two fine stars who plow right through the nonsense and bumpy continuity. They transcend the make-believe surroundings, turning the picture into something really special, something to remember. ***1/2 from ****
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I read some of the comments registered here on The Way We Were and felt I
needed to add my comments.
First of all, I think a lot of people are viewing this movie through politically correct, 21st century eyes.
Comments have been made about Redford's character "abandoning" his kid after he splits with Streisand's character at the end of the movie. However, the movie implies that Streisand's character moves from California back to New York while Redford's character stays in sunny Hollywood. If this were the case, back in the 1940s it was not as common for people to hop on a plane going from coast to coast. It would not be uncommon at that time for a woman to remarry (which Streisand's character does) and have her new husband basically raise the kid. Especially if the natural father was (as in this case) across the other side of the country. Societal customs were much different than they are now concerning extended families and such.
The two sides of the country also represent the main characters. Sunny, beautiful, extroverted, physically inclined Hollywood (Redford) on the west coast and the grayer, more complex, intellectually inclined New York on the east coast (Streisand).
I'm also surprised at the comments regarding the characters motivations in finding the other attractive. I thought the movie made it very clear & believable. Both characters are acutely aware of their projected image to others and both characters feel trapped by these labels. This is something very significant that they share which bonds them. Redford's character chafes at his pretty boy image yet is at the same time uncomfortable in the role of writer. When his short story is read in class, he is visibly uncomfortable yet still wants the approval of his classmates. Redford's character wants to be strong yet have a vulnerable artistic side appreciated. So too is Streisand hampered by her image as an intellectual, wise cracking, thick skinned rebel. She, unconsciously perhaps, longs for a man to treat her gently, appreciate her as something more than a spokesperson, more as a unique person, a woman.
Each of the characters tentatively pin pricks the other's exterior reserve. Redford by trying to make Streisand smile, relax, not take life so seriously and Streisand by trying to make Redford feel respected and have his writing valued. Each receives from the other something most people won't give them. Streisand is made to feel beautiful and interesting and sexy and something more than just her political beliefs while Streisand lets Redford know that beneath the blond surfer boy looks she sees depth and integrity.
The movie also deals with culture clashes within society. Redford's character is the classic White Anglo Saxon Protestant upper class while Streisand the lower class ethnic, non-Christian. That they even consider forging a relationship between the two of them would have raised eyebrows at the time.
I'm surprised (though perhaps I missed it) that no one commented on two of the films most famous lines. In an argument near the end of the movie Redford & Streisand battle it out with Redford declaring that people are more important than principles with Streisand answering back that people are their principles.
I agree with many that this is one of the best movies to come out of Hollywood in the 1970s. I think both lead actors were perfectly cast and the period feeling of the WWII era is beautifully rendered.
There are many wonderful "moments" throughout the film. The scene where Redford is out in the ocean on a small sailboat with his good friend and the two are playing the "best ever" game. When the friend calls out the category as year and Redford starts identifying first one year then another then another as his best or favorite years the viewer knows without being told that the years he's listing are his years he's spent with Streisand. The camera records Redford's bittersweet face and pulls back, showing the friend on the boat silently witnessing his friend's pain, then the camera pulls back in a helicopter shot showing the boat being bounced on the waves. It's an extraordinarily poignant moment in film.
As mentioned in other reviews, the shots of Streisand brushing back Redford's hair off his forehead are sexy and intimate without being graphic.
Another moment I love is near the end of the film and Streisand says to Redford wouldn't it be wonderful if the two of them were old and they would have survived all of this. Again, with brilliantly written dialogue and performed by professionals the movie accomplishes much depth without resorting to histrionics.
I think it's a very romantic film along the lines of Casablanca and Gone With The Wind and Brief Encounter.
I say, rent the film, don't try to over analyze it, just relax on the couch either by yourself or with your partner and just enjoy an old fashioned story of boy meets girl, boy woos girl, boy loses girl in the end.
There are movies about love being made all of the time. After awhile, they all begin to look the same. However, once in awhile, one is made that truly stands out. THE WAY WE WERE is such a film. This film, mixing love and politics, finds two individuals (Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford) who meet in college, but years pass before a romance blooms. She is an political activist, he's bored by politics. She's stern and serious, he's easygoing and laid-back. Although they love each other deeply, their differences begin to tear them apart. As far as romantic tearjerkers go, they don't get much better than this. Both Striesand and Redford are perfectly cast and their characters are ones in which viewers will grow to love and care about. Many viewers will also appreciate the realistic ending. This is a beautiful film.
Had to see this one again after years had elapsed between viewings, and the hair brushed from the face ending still gets to me. Weep weep, boo hoo. Speaking of hair, Babs looks better with her hair curly here, it always seems stiff flattened out. I still can't figure out if Hubbel was challenged by Katie or if he fell for her because he knew she loved him deeply, even if their relationship was based more on her attraction to him than his to hers. I never thought he truly felt comfortable with her. Because she was so "serious" all the time, as he tried to tell her. Romance was bound to fail because he could never think about other people the way she did and she in turn could never relax. The public confrontation during the communist witch hunt is the last straw and eventually leads us to the sidewalks of New York, where Katie's hair is curly again and Hubbel comments that she must have lost her iron. A truly moving romance with some stretches of dullness here and there but never at the expense of character. Both stars look great, with Streisand definitely robbed at Oscar time.
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
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I too watched this film because of the reference in Sex & the City, and
found it strangely mesmerizing, despite its many flaws. It is an attempt
portray a grand love story in the context of serious political questions,
but ultimately it ends up as just another soppy romance, pleasurable to
watch, but with no real substance or depth. The character of Katie isn't
coherent enough at times to make the film work, despite the fact that
Striesand is perfectly cast in this role . At college she's cold and
abrasive when Hubble makes overtures towards her, but when they meet again
years later she acts like a giddy school girl with a crush. There are
powerful moments when they argue over principles and the future of their
relationship, but the problems that drive them apart aren't explored
enough to make it work. It's hard to believe that they could be so
deliriously happy when Katie announces she's pregnant, only to have
everthing fall to pieces before the baby is even born. Given the supposed
depth of their love for each other, Hubble's affair is completely
unconvincing, even making allowances for the volatile political situation
they find themselves in.
The film had great potential to explore the pressures that outside forces can have on two people with very different views who love each other against all the odds, and how these pressures will ultimately take their toll, but it lacks the insight that could have made it a really great film. Instead it opts for the sugar-coated version that's bound to be a crowd pleaser, but leaves the more discerning viewer feeling slightly disappointed and empty.
That said, I did like the ending a lot, and believe that Robert Redford is a fine actor. The brief look of intense pain & regret in Hubble's eyes when he is confronted with everything he has lost, and everything that could have been when he meets Katie on the street in New York almost makes up for the rest of the films flaws. He took the easy way out, and is forced to admit this to himself, if only for a moment before he is swept back into his glamourous lifestyle as a screen writer. Katie, on the other hand has stayed true to her beliefs, and she summs it up the fims theme perfectly when she tells Hubble that she likes his "girl". It is a girl he has chosen over a woman that could have brought out the very best in him, and helped him to be the kind of man he yearned to be, but didn't have the determination or courage for, and this is where the great tragedy of the film lies. Definitely worth seeing.
I can remember seeing THE WAY WE WERE when I was in high school and being
surprised by how much I had enjoyed it. Romances were never really my
thing, but I had always enjoyed the work of Robert Redford, so I decided
give it a try. I was floored by the power and beauty of film! My initial
reactions to the film were, once again, how natural and charismatic
is as the classic example of the college golden boy, who feels slightly
trapped. After the credits began to roll, I knew right then that I had
something special, something that would pass the test of time. I assume
others felt the same way, the film went on to become an international
blockbuster and the top grosser of the year.
Years later, I watched THE WAY WE WERE again. Now older, I had a new perspective on the film, and to be completely honest, I enjoyed it even more! While I still think Redford is great in this film, I discovered that it is actually Barbra Streisand who gives the better performance. As the political activist Katie, Streisand has one her best roles since Fanny Brice in the original FUNNY GIRL and she provides a show-stopping performance. She displays both strength and vulnerability, she is at once both scorned and innocent. Her's is one of the best performances of the 70's.
The final verdict: THE WAY WE WERE stands the test of time as one of the best films of it's kind. Watch this film for the most moving finale in film history, for the knock out performance from Streisand, for the long-lasting chemistry between Redford and Streisand, and for one of the most famous and touching love stories of this century.
Out of 10, I'd rate THE WAY WE WERE a solid 10!
Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford look wonderful in this great story of
doomed love. Character development (or arc) is supposed to be one of the
basic elements of a good screenplay; but the whole point of Sydney Pollack's
1973 movie is that neither Katie Moroski nor Hubbell Gardner changes. She
remains the serious-minded Jewish left-wing activist, and he the easy-going,
politically uncommitted WASP, they are when they first meet in college in
1937. Fascinated with each other precisely because they are such opposites,
they have an affair, marry and have a baby; but their inability to
compromise - or in his case to stop compromising - leads to
The main action spans the eventful decade from the Spanish Civil War and New Deal, through WWII, to the McCarthy era, by which time Katie and Hubbell have moved from New York to Hollywood, where he is a screenwriter. Though melodramatic and sketchy, the political dimension of the story should not be underestimated; this is one of the very rare American movies in which a communist is treated sympathetically. Presumably much of this side of the scenario stemmed from the personal experience of writer Arthur Laurents, who was the same age as his protagonists, and who had McCarthy-related problems.
Both stars are perfect for their roles; we can see what they see in each other; and we desperately want it to work for them, though we know it won't! Notable in support are Bradford Dillman, Lois Chiles, and James Woods. The theme song, emotionally delivered by Streisand as only she can, is beautiful, but the relevance of its nostalgic lyric to this clear-eyed movie is doubtful.
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