US Release Date: 10-17-1973
Directed by: Sydney Pollack
- Barbra Streisand, as
- Katie Morosky Gardner
- Robert Redford, as
- Hubbell Gardner
- Bradford Dillman, as
- Lois Chiles, as
- Carol Ann
- Patrick O'Neal, as
- George Bissinger
- Viveca Lindfors, as
- Allyn Ann McLerie, as
- Rhea Edwards
- Murray Hamilton, as
- Brooks Carpenter
- James Woods, as
- Frankie McVeigh
- Sally Kirkland, as
- Pony Dunbar
- Herb Edelman, as
- Bill Verso
- George Gaynes as
- El Morocco Captain
Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford in The Way We Were.
I have often heard film makers and movie stars in interviews refer to a movie as being character driven. In my interpretation, I understand that to mean that the movie is going to be about extremely well fleshed out characters, and that the movies action really comes from their interaction and not jumping from cliffs are car chases. I define a well defined movie character by this simple rule. If this character was presented with a situation can I the viewer know fairly accurately how the character will react? How would Scarlet O'Hara react if stopped on the street by a northerner begging for money? If you have seen Gone With The Wind then you know the answer.
Like Gone With The Wind, The Way We Were is a love story about two well rounded and incredibly illustrated characters. Where as Gone With The Wind has grandeur, Casablanca has intrigue and When Harry Met Sally has its comic gimmick, The Way We Were is quite simply the greatest character driven love story of all time.
On the surface this is simply a story of opposites attract. He, Hubble Gardner, is a popular golden boy, athlete, scholar with Robert Redford's looks. She, Katie Moraski is an intellectual forward thinking radical whose ethnic looks (Barbra Streisand's) and middle class accent make it apparent that she is not in the same circle as Hubbell and his friends.
They meet in college and through a great flashback we find that they had a spark but neither was brave enough to initiate a relationship. Years later they meet without the social pressures of college and start a love affair. All is wonderful until her politics and his insecurities show back up to throw a wrench in the mix.
The first few times I watched this movie I felt for Katie. She wears her insecurities on her chest like a badge for all to see. The girl who had to work her way through college. The girl that looked fondly at the popular crowd but never was a member. However, upon further viewings I came to realize that Hubbell was actually the more complex character. He hangs around the in crowd, and is the sports hero, but he admires Katie's courage to stand out from the crowd and speak her mind. As their relationship evolves so does his character. Before Katie his biggest problem was what should be the commencement theme. With Katie he is forced into defending her and going against the crowd. (not his normal territory) He is also faced with the fact that he is truly not the golden boy of his college years. His writing is not as good as he thought and he doesn't enjoy going against the grain like Katie.
Good casting is always a matter of debate. Until a movie gets remade no one really knows if anyone else could play a role better. However, I would argue to my grave that Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand were absolutely perfect in there roles and no one could have done it better. Robert Redford's looks and presence were a perfect vessel for Hubble. Barbra Streisand really only fit 2 roles in her career perfectly. This one and Fanny Brice. Here her political views can easily get intertwined with her characters. In fact the reason she is so good in this movie is that half the time I do not believe there is a difference between Katie and Barbra. This head strong loud mouth that is Katie is also Barbra as per her movie persona. The definition of perfect casting.
My favorite scene in this movie is the commencement dance scene where Hubbell walks over to Katie and dances with her. There is little to no dialogue but the spark of passion is incredible. If you knew nothing of these people and only watched this one scene you could still tell that this was a couple that was not only hot for each other but also had some serious issues to work out.
Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand in The Way We Were.
Although I hate to admit it, Eric is right. He hit it right on the head when he wrote that The Way We Were is the greatest character driven love story ever. It is, in fact, the only one I can think of in which the lovers are broken up by ideological differences rather than death or another lover. Therein lies the secret to its success. These two people are absolutely mad about each other, watch the final scene and notice the ache in Hubbell's eyes as Katie does the famous hair sweep. Yet because of the disparity in their political convictions they can never be together. These lines between them sum it all up. Hubbell: "Katie, people are more important than principals." Katie: "Hubbell, people ARE their principals."
Nostalgia plays a large part in this movie, from the hauntingly evocative lyrics in the classic title song to the moments between Hubbell and best friend J.J. where they rank the best moments in their past. This movie is filled with interesting supporting characters and memorable lines much like that other great love story Casablanca. Here are some of my favorites. "The only movie she didn't knock was Potemkin." "I like Hollywood; I like Alice Faye, What's not to like?" "What kind of pie?"
The chemistry between Streisand and Redford is now legendary. It deserves to be. Never was the old adage that opposites attract more true. On the surface Hubbell is the perfect golden boy, yet as the film progresses hints of his inner insecurities abound. Katie is the complete radical, totally consumed by her political convictions and though she would like to give them up for the love of her man, in reality, she cannot.
And so we are left with the final meeting outside of the Plaza Hotel near Central Park and those misty water colored memories of the way we were...
Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford in The Way We Were.
There are bad movies and there are good movies. And then there are those few rarified movies that transcend good or bad and reach the level of true masterpiece. The Way We Were is such a movie.
Never before or since has a love story been filmed with such great characters. Because, as both Eric and Patrick pointed out, that's what makes this movie so great, the characters. Katie and Hubble, two completely different people trying to make their love work. If you are a fan of this movie, just saying those two names will bring up a rush of memories and feelings. And they are played to perfection by Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand.
This is Barbra's greatest performance as an actress. This is the one movie of hers that anyone can watch, even if they aren't fans. She manages to escape her real life diva personality throughout the plot, except perhaps for one scene. During the one scene leading up to when Katie tells Hubble that she is pregnant, you suddenly remember that this is Barbra, something you manage to forget for the rest of the movie.
Redford, who is often under-estimated as an actor, plays Hubble superbly. On first watching, he is less sympathetic as the seemingly shallow Hubble. Director Sydney Pollack had to persuade him to accept what is really the secondary part. And movie fans should be grateful he did. After watching this movie, you will be unable to picture anyone else in the role.
The Way We Were tells the story of Katie and Hubble's romance, from their first meeting in college where they share a few scattered moments of portence, through their meeting in New York during World War II where their relationship really begins, follows them out to California and the pre-destined end of their relationship, and concludes with one final scene during an accidental reunion back in New York.
As I and my brothers said, this movie is about characters. And what characters! Katie is the Jewish activist, who spends her life protesting the world's wrongs. She's the complicated girl. The not conventionally attractive girl. The intelligent girl. The serious girl. The one you'd like to stay up all night with discussing deep and meaningful topics. The girl who cares deeply about causes and principles. The girl who takes things too seriously. The girl who wasn't popular in college, but wanted to be. The insecure girl, who wanted to be a writer but was never able to be.
Hubble is the Protestant, blonde haired, football hero. Mr. Popular. The party guy. The guy with the sense of humor. The guy with the pretty girlfriend. The easy going guy and the guy for whom everything comes too easily. A writer who has the talent to be what Katie dreams of being, but not the drive. The type of guy who is so successful and popular in college, that the rest of his life can never compare to that glory.
Their relationship starts because Katie is attracted to Hubble physically and he represents all the things she will never have; popularity and acceptance. Hubble is attracted to Katie because underneath his shallow demeanor, he is intelligent and she challenges him in a way his friends don't, and Katie is the one thing that won't come easily to him.
As I said, Hubble comes off as the less sympathetic, and weaker character. But upon a second, third, or thirtieth viewing, you come to realize that yes, he wants different things than Katie, and yeah, maybe he isn't up to her challenge, but he's not completely at fault. Katie may be a character you can admire, but you have to realize she wouldn't be the easiest person to live with.
The one thing I disagree with Patrick and his review is his comments that they don't manage to stay together because of their political views. That is such a small part of the reason why they will never be able to live happily ever after. The reason they can not stay together is because when they are together, neither one of them is who they want to be. Hubble must be more serious and Katie, more frivolous. Their life in California brings neither one of them satisfaction. They are both trying to be the person they think the other person wants them to be. And in the end, they revert back to who they really are. Yes, they disagree about politics. She cares about politics and he doesn't, but to say this is the reason they break up, is to vastly oversimplify the matter.
And in the end you know that their relationship will not work. You know it before the characters know it. Still, time after time of watching it, you will still hope that somehow they will find happiness. Somehow it will work. But it never does. And so Katie, Hubble, and we, the audience, are only left with beautiful memories of the way they were and might have been. If only...
Photos © Copyright Columbia Pictures (1973)