Classic Cinema

“The Way We Were”

Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand in "The Way We Were" (© Columbia Pictures, 1973)

Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand in “The Way We Were” (© Columbia Pictures, 1973)

Opposites attract, but only for a while in the 1973 tear-jerker The Way We Were. Starring Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand, the film is an American love story set amid the political turmoil before, during, and after World War II.

Streisand plays Katie Morosky, a strong-willed Jewish woman with penchant for political activism. Redford plays Hubbell Gardiner, a very WASP-y and privileged guy with the aspirations (and the talent) to become a writer. The two meet in college in the late 1930s, but it isn’t until a chance encounter in New York City after the war when they fall in love. The lovers end up moving to Hollywood where Hubbell pursues a career as a screenwriter. When the U.S. House Committee on Un-American Activities starts putting the smack down on suspected communist sympathizers in the entertainment industry, Katie takes a stand but Hubbell plays it safe in order to keep his job. You can see where this is going—the lovers’ future is sadly doomed by their lack of mutual conviction and shared values.

Written by Arthur Laurents and directed by Sydney Pollack, the film is a solid, albeit glossy, romantic drama. The interweaving of the political turmoil of the times provides a unique backdrop for both the romance and the demise of the relationship. And the star power and on-screen chemistry of Redford and Streisand is why we go to the movies in the first place.

Of notable mention is the film’s famous title track, with music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman, and perfectly sung by Barbra Streisand. The song won an Academy Award for Best Original Song; Hamlisch also won an Academy Award for the Best Original Dramatic Score for the film and a Grammy for Album of Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I watched The Way We Were on Turner Classic Movies. Thanks, TCM!

Have you seen The Way We Were? What do you think of the film? Leave a reply below.