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Katie Morosky is a serious politically minded student radical in the 1930s who falls for her complete opposite, the carefree and handsome big man on campus Hubbell Gardiner. Although they are attracted to each other from the beginning, nothing happens between the two until they meet up years later during World War II and begin a romance. While Katie encourages Hubbell to become a serious novelist, he is content to move to Hollywood and write for the movies--a pursuit she finds shallow. Hubbell, meanwhile, admires Katie's passion for causes, but grows weary of her do-or-die political activism--something that becomes dangerous for both of them during the dark times of McCarthyism. With conflicts rising to the surface that force them to face their core principles as individuals, it soon becomes clear that love will not be enough to keep them together.
Director: Sydney Pollack
Writer: Arthur Laurents
Producer: Ray Stark
Cinematography: Harry Stradling, Jr.
Art Direction: Stephen Grimes
Editing: Margaret Booth, John F. Burnett
Music Composer: Marvin Hamlisch
Costumes: Dorothy Jeakins, Moss Mabry
Cast: Barbra Streisand (Katie Morosky), Robert Redford (Hubbell Gardiner), Bradford Dillman (J.J.), Lois Chiles (Carol Ann), Patrick O'Neal (George Bissinger), Viveca Lindfors (Paula Reisner), Allyn Ann McLerie (Rhea Edwards), Murray Hamilton (Brooks Carpenter), Herb Edelman (Bill Verso), Diana Ewing (Vicki Bissinger), Sally Kirkland (Pony Dunbar), Marcia Mae Jones (Peggy Vanderbilt).
C-119m. Letterboxed. Closed Captioning.
Why THE WAY WE WERE is Essential
The Way We Were was a smash hit when it was released in 1973 and has endured over the years as one of the great love stories in cinema. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, and took home two: Best Original Song ("The Way We Were") and Best Original Score.
The film was the first and only time that Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand, two of the world's biggest movie stars at the time, ever appeared in a film together. The on-screen coupling of such opposite and dynamic talents caused quite a stir and captured the imagination of the movie-going public. Their chemistry was such that even to this day more than thirty years later people regularly still ask them if they will ever work together again.
The Way We Were was one of the first mainstream films to tackle the hovering dark cloud in Hollywood's history: McCarthyism and the blacklist. This ugly period during the 1940s in which Communist witch hunts seriously damaged the careers and lives of many professionals in the entertainment industry provided a hard-hitting political backdrop for the touching love story of Katie and Hubbell. Although the McCarthy period wasn't that far in the past at the time, the film helped educate a new generation about Hollywood's darkest period.
Actor Robert Redford was already a movie star when he made The Way We Were, but the film's success solidified him as the world's leading male sex symbol of his era. It took him to a new level of fame that secured his place as an enduring Hollywood icon.
The title theme song to The Way We Were was a gigantic success just like the film and became an institution unto itself. With music by Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman and sung by star Barbra Streisand, "The Way We Were" provided the perfect heartbreaking punctuation to the film's love story. It became Streisand's first number one single as well as one of her signature numbers and later won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. It has been covered by innumerable singers and musicians over the years and has remained one of the most recognizable songs in the world.
The Way We Were became one of Columbia Pictures' top grossing films of all time and was subsequently credited as having almost single-handedly rescued the troubled and financially strapped studio from disaster.
by Andrea Passafiume
The Way We Were (1973)
The Way We Were has been referenced in numerous films and television shows including The Jerk (1979), Starting Over (1979), Fame (1980), Big (1988), Cheers, The Bob Newhart Show, The Facts of Life, Silver Spoons, Who's the Boss?, Family Ties, Dallas, The Simpsons, The Nanny and Frasier.
Composer Marvin Hamlisch titled his 1992 memoir The Way I Was, a clear reference to the film.
In addition to scoring her first number one single with her recording of the song "The Way We Were," Barbra Streisand also recorded an album separate from the hit movie soundtrack called The Way We Were that went double platinum.
Versions of the song "The Way We Were" have been recorded by numerous musical artists over the years including Doris Day, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Shirley Bassey, Donna Summer and Barry Manilow.
Almost a decade later, according to Arthur Laurents, Robert Redford approached him to write a new love story for him to star in. "What I came up with was the last thing either of us thought we wanted: a sequel to The Way We Were," said Laurents. "But it had the makings of a very different kind of love story with many facets and unexpected permutations. Hubbell and their daughter (a radical like Katie), who comes on to him not knowing he is her father; Katie and Hubbell who never stopped loving one another; Katie jealous of her daughter and deeply attached to her second husband, David, who loves her and the daughter he has really been a father to...Add an ending at the chaotic 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago with police brutality against marching protesters who are shouting to the TV cameras: 'The whole world's watching!' The possibilities were exciting."
Laurents completed the screenplay for the sequel and sent it to Redford. However, Redford ultimately declined to develop the project. Barbra Streisand really liked the new screenplay and years later even considered directing it herself. However, the sequel to The Way We Were never came to fruition. When Oprah Winfrey asked Redford in 2010 why he never agreed to make the film, he replied, "Certain things should be left alone, and this was one of them."
In her famed show Gilda Live filmed by Mike Nichols in 1980, comedienne Gilda Radner performs a humorous version of the song "The Way We Were" as character Lisa Lupner. During the song Lupner breaks down crying and talks about the film at length, eventually getting the audience to join her singing the last part of the song.
In 2008 Beyonce Knowles sang "The Way We Were" to Barbra Streisand as part of the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington D.C. honoring Streisand.
When Robert Redford was given an honorary Lifetime Achievement Oscar® at the Academy Awards in 2002, it was Barbra Streisand who affectionately introduced him and handed him the statuette. When he accepted the award, he looked at Streisand and said referring to The Way We Were, "I guess this is a sequel, huh, Bab?"
In 2010 Barbra Streisand was a guest on Oprah and sang "The Way We Were" at Oprah Winfrey's request. When she finished the song, Robert Redford appeared on stage, surprising Streisand. The two then sat down for an interview together and discussed making The Way We Were.
In the season 2 episode of Sex and the City "Ex and the City," Carrie and her girlfriends sit inside a restaurant and discuss The Way We Were, saying that there are two kinds of girls in the world: the simple girls and the complicated "Katie" girls, a reference to Barbra Streisand's character in the film. Carrie decides that she is a "Katie" girl, which explains why she and her on-again/off-again boyfriend "Big" broke up. Later when she sees "Big" outside the Plaza hotel after his engagement party, she goes over to him, brushes the hair out of his eyes and says, "Your girl is lovely, Hubbell," taking a line straight out of the film.
by Andrea Passafiume
The Way We Were (1973)
When The Way We Were was released in the fall of 1973, it was a box office smash. Columbia was relieved to have a big hit on their hands--the film ended up being one of the studio's top moneymakers of all time.
Streisand's recording of the wildly popular theme song was her first number one single and quickly became one of her signature songs. It also became a standard with one of the most recognizable melody lines in popular music.
Actor James Woods has a small supporting role in The Way We Were as Katie's college friend and prom date Frankie.
Barbra Streisand remembers getting the news that Robert Redford had agreed to make the film when she received a telegram from her then agent Sue Mengers that said simply "Barbra Redford."
Streisand was having trouble crying in the scene where Katie rips up her short story following a college English class. She was nervous and self-conscious, which created a block when it came to crying on cue. Director Sydney Pollack went over to Streisand and gently put his arm around her--a sensitive gesture that immediately helped her find the emotion within herself to do the scene.
After writing the original treatment and subsequent screenplay for The Way We Were, writer Arthur Laurents structured the story into a novel, which was published in 1972.
For the early college scenes, the cast and crew were originally scheduled to shoot on the Williams College campus in Williamstown, Massachusetts. However, production delays ended up causing the shooting schedule to conflict with student classes. As a result, the location shoot was subsequently moved to Union College in Schenectady, New York.
While shooting on location at Union College, a casting call was sent out for coeds and college-aged local residents to serve as extras during Katie's big speech during the peace strike. They were dressed in period costume and paid $15 a day. The female extras reportedly had to be told not to stare at handsome Robert Redford during the scene.
The cast and crew got a treat when legendary comedian Groucho Marx visited the set on the day they were shooting the Hollywood costume party scene in which all the guests are dressed as one of the Marx Brothers. The Marx Brothers costume party scene was reportedly inspired by a 1949 Life Magazine photo.
Both writer Arthur Laurents and director Sydney Pollack recall Barbra Streisand having a big crush on Robert Redford during the shoot, though no romance ever came of it. "Barbra...had a crush on him even before we started," said Pollack according to Michael Feeney Callan's 2011 biography Robert Redford. "It was hard for women not to have a fixation, because he was everywhere, like Elvis. He was the golden boy long before Hubbell came along." By all accounts the married Redford handled Streisand's crush tactfully.
The cinematographer on The Way We Were, Harry Stradling, Jr., was the son of noted cinematographer Harry Stradling, Sr. who had worked with Barbra Streisand on Funny Girl (1968), Hello, Dolly! (1969), On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970) and The Owl and the Pussycat (1970).
Streisand reportedly refused to cut her long fingernails, even for the college scenes, while Redford also refused to cut his hair for his scenes in uniform during wartime.
Writer Arthur Laurents gave the lead male character the unusual name of "Hubbell" as a nod to a man he knew in real life named Hubbell Robinson, "the handsome head of the distinguished advertising agency Young and Rubicam." Laurents described Robinson in his 2000 memoir Original Story By as "a wearer of elegant suspenders, as comfortable with women as with a never empty glass."
For the scene in The Way We Were where a hidden microphone is discovered at a Hollywood party, writer Laurents was inspired by two different real life things. "A party at Clifford Odets' where Charlie Chaplin, doing his parlor pantomime of a matador fighting a bull, crashed into a wall and knocked one of the paintings from Clifford's magnificent collection to the floor," said Laurents. "Dangling from the hook was a tiny microphone, a bug. Combining that with an Irene Selznick screening where machinery lowered a Matisse to reveal a movie screen behind it, I had Katie and Hubbell at his director's house when the bug ripped the painting. A little dramatic license."
Arthur Laurents loved Barbra Streisand, but he felt that her "affected speech" damaged her performance. He believed that many New York actors like Streisand developed what he called a "grand accent" in their efforts to try and shed their natural speech patterns. "Katie Morosky was an Oscar®-winning role," said Laurents. "What could have guaranteed Barbra's winning was a long, heart-breaking telephone call. Instead, I think it lost her the Oscar®. Almost from the first word, there was the fixed speech; it came and went, taking reality with it. Her concentration seemed to be on producing tears, which she did. But real tears don't guarantee reality, and her discomfort was too evident in the way she kept hiding, covering her face again and again with her hand which inevitably drew the eye to those unreal fingernails. How I wish I could have directed that phone call!"
Composer Marvin Hamlisch had a very good night on April 2, 1974--Oscar® night. He not only won two Academy Awards for his work on The Way We Were but also an additional third for Best Original Song Score for his unrelated work on The Sting (1973), another Robert Redford picture.
When Marvin Hamlisch won the Oscar® for Best Original Score for The Way We Were, he said at the podium, "What can I tell ya? I'd like to thank the makers of Maalox for making all this possible."
Peggy Lee sang Best Original Song nominee (and subsequent winner) "The Way We Were" on Oscar® night.
Barbra Streisand said in a 2010 interview that Katie's repeated gesture of brushing the hair out of Hubbell's eyes with her fingers was a conscious choice on her part. She wanted to do the gesture throughout the film so that by the end it had a special meaning. According to Robert Redford, women still come up to him to this day and try to repeat the gesture.
Sydney Pollack said in a 1999 interview that he knew he wanted to make The Way We Were after reading the scene in Arthur Laurents' original treatment in which Katie calls Hubbell and begs him to come back. It was a scene so powerful, he said, that it was kept verbatim in the finished film.
Other actors considered for the role of Hubbell were Warren Beatty, Ken Howard and Dennis Cole.
The second version of the song "The Way We Were" that was not used in the film (nicknamed "The Way We Were 2" by Marvin Hamlisch and "The Way We Weren't" by Barbra Streisand) can be heard on Streisand's CD box set titled Just For the Record on disc 4, track 2.
According to screenwriter Arthur Laurents, in 1997 Ray Stark approached him about turning The Way We Were into a Broadway musical for Kathie Lee Gifford. The musical never happened.
Memorable Quotes from THE WAY WE WERE
"You're all decadent and disgusting."
"Come on, we weren't making fun of you."
"Yes you were. You make fun of everything. You think politics is a joke."
"Well, you make fun of politicians. What else can you do with them?"
-- Katie Morosky (Barbra Streisand) and Hubbell Gardiner (Robert Redford)
"You should have laughed."
"'Any Peace But Katie's Piece'? God, you were good. You really were. You had them. You could have kept them if only you'd laughed."
"It wasn't funny."
"That's not the only reason to laugh. You're a Puritan."
"I am not."
"You have no sense of humor."
--Hubbell and Katie
"Where are you stationed?"
"Oh, that's good. That could be exciting."
"Roosevelt is there."
"I thought the party said he was an evil warmonger."
"How do you know what the party said?"
"You still think a varsity letter stands for moron, huh?"
"Some people work out better than we think."
-- Katie and Hubbell
"What makes you think I'm going to write a second novel?"
"Because you must. You're too good a writer not to."
"Are you really so sure of everything you're so sure of?"
"Sure. Aren't you?"
-- Hubbell and Katie
"You do it, you know. You make yourself feel out of place."
"Your friends make me feel like I'm invited for drinks and everyone else is staying for supper."
"Why don't you try talking to them?"
"No you don't. You don't talk, you lecture."
--Hubbell and Katie
"I was too easy for you."
"I don't mean sexually, I mean--I mean easy, like everything is for you."
"You really think you're easy?! Compared to what? The Hundred Years War? You're so ready to fight, you don't have time to understand anything. Counterattack, politics, revolution, cause."
"It's because I'm not attractive enough, isn't it? I'm not fishing, really. I'm not. I know I'm attractive. Sort of. But I'm not attractive in the right way, am I? I mean, I don't have the right style for you, do I? Be my friend."
"No, you don't have the right style."
"No! Don't change. You're your own girl. You have your own style."
"But then I won't have you. Why can't I have you? Why?"
"Because you push too hard. Every damn minute. There's no time ever to just relax and enjoy living. Everything's too serious to be so serious."
"If I push too hard, it's because I want things to be better. I want us to be better. I want you to be better. Sure, I make waves. I mean, you have to, and I'll keep making them until you're every wonderful thing you should be and will be. You'll never find anyone as good for you as I am, to believe in you as much as I do or love you as much."
"I know that."
"Well then, why?"
"Do you think if I come back it's going to be okay by magic? What's going to be changed? What's going to be different? We'll both be wrong. We'll both lose."
"Couldn't we both win?"
-- Katie and Hubbell
"Katie, you expect so much."
"Oh, but look what I've got."
--Hubbell and Katie
"Why did you have to go with her? Tell me I'm not good enough. Tell me you don't like my politics. Tell me I talk too much. You don't like my perfume, my family, my pot roast. But for God's sake, you didn't have to go back to Beekman Place, did you?"
--Katie, to Hubbell
"I hate what you did to your book. I hate the picture. I hate those people. I hate the palm trees. I wish it would rain. Oh, I want...I want..."
"I want us to love each other."
--Katie and Hubbell
"It's not like, you know, losing somebody. Katie...That would be a loss."
--J.J. (Bradford Dillman), to Hubbell
"Wouldn't it be lovely if we were old? We'd have survived all this. And everything would be easy and uncomplicated the way it was when we were young."
"Katie, it was never uncomplicated."
"But it was lovely. Wasn't it?"
"Yes, it was lovely."
--Katie and Hubbell
"You never give up, do you?"
"Only when I'm absolutely forced to. But I'm a very good loser."
"Better than I am."
"Well, I've had more practice. Your girl is lovely, Hubbell. Why don't you bring her for a drink when you come?"
"I can't come, Katie. I can't."
--Hubbell and Katie
Compiled by Andrea Passafiume
The Way We Were (1973)
In 1973 Barbra Streisand was already one of the world's biggest stars, having conquered Broadway, the Billboard charts, television and movies in her illustrious career. However, Streisand had recently suffered a rare career misfire with the box office disappointment Up the Sandbox (1972). Columbia Pictures producer Ray Stark, who had a long professional relationship with Streisand that dated back to her 1964 Broadway triumph in Funny Girl, wanted a new project for her to star in, preferably a film musical. A new movie would be just the thing, he thought, to give her a career boost.
Stark approached veteran writer Arthur Laurents, who had also directed Streisand in her 1962 Broadway debut I Can Get It For You Wholesale, to come up with a story idea. Laurents immediately nixed the idea of writing a musical. He wanted instead to give his talented old friend Streisand a meaty dramatic role to show off her considerable acting chops.
Laurents began thinking about his old college years at Cornell during the 1930s. His senior year in 1937 was, according to his 2000 memoir Original Story By, "the year of campus peace strikes to end the Spanish Civil War and witch hunts to find undergraduate Reds." He remembered in particular a girl he had gone to school with named Fanny Price who had been a "fiery campus radical" and wondered what had become of her. Price, he said, was "a colorful beginning for the character of my heroine but little more than a beginning. What did she want beyond the overthrow of capitalism?"
Laurents also drew from his intense desire to be a writer during college to help shape the character of Katie Morosky vis-a-vis his old classmate Fanny Price. "Characters rather than plot drive the better stories," he said. "For the movie story I was developing, Fanny's passion to be a writer added a new dimension to her character. The rejection of her essay, contrasting sharply with her belligerence at the Peace Strike, followed by the scene where she's told she is a writer--all that was good, the story was slowly taking shape. Except it really wasn't. And couldn't because I couldn't believe Fanny was a writer. Passion, conviction, desire? Yes; brimming over; she had them all. Talent? No; not for one minute could I believe she had any. No reason, just instinct but I knew I was right. But recognizing what she lacked gave me something better, something basic to her character: resilience. The English instructor could destroy her only temporarily; she would never go under or give up. That rang true and that would shape her story. In the end, Fanny was indestructible, a phoenix, and her name wasn't Fanny it was Katie."
Laurents also made the conscious decision to make Katie Jewish. "She had to be a Jew," he said; "Barbra herself had arrived as one. Not flaunting, not defying, just simply declaring at Hollywood Customs: Here is a Jewish movie star. And Katie could only be a Jew because of her insistence on speaking out, her outrage at injustice, her passion, her values, and because I was a Jew. Besides, it was fresher and high time that the movies, the only industry founded by Jews, had a Jewish heroine."
Laurents mined more material from his early days in Hollywood during the 1940s when he and many of his friends and colleagues had been blacklisted as a result of the McCarthy-era Communist witch hunts. Hollywood films had dealt very little with this dark period in its history, and Laurents was passionate about making it a big part of The Way We Were's story. It became personal for him, especially since it was his first original screenplay. Up until then, his scripts had been adaptations of others' work. "But this was an original based on me, my life in college, during the war and during the Hollywood Witch Hunt," he said. "I had never seen a movie or a play set in that period in which those I knew either lived by fighting for the Ten or died by turning informer. There was no middle ground. I was blacklisted, I had my passport taken away. I believed it wasn't un-American to be a member of the Communist Party, it was un-American to be on the House Un-American Committee. I still believed that and I wanted to say it through a heroine who was a Jewish Communist. In a Hollywood movie."
When Laurents completed a long treatment of The Way We Were, he gave it to producer Ray Stark. "He read the treatment on a plane flying back to California," said Laurents. "The minute he landed, he grabbed a phone in the L.A. airport. He was ecstatic, he loved it. Barbra read it: she loved it. They wanted the screenplay yesterday. My Blackwing pencils couldn't write fast enough on the long yellow legal pads to keep up with the rush of words in my head."
It was Laurents who pushed for Sydney Pollack to be the director on The Way We Were. He had been impressed with Pollack's work on the period 1969 drama They Shoot Horses, Don't They? and lobbied Ray Stark to use him.
Pollack was an easy sell to Barbra Streisand. She particularly liked that Pollack was a trained actor who continued to teach acting as well. "That really got me," she said in a 1999 interview. "I thought that would be a good director to have."
Ray Stark, who had worked with Pollack before on This Property Is Condemned (1966) with Natalie Wood and Robert Redford, agreed to hire him. Pollack, in turn, was happy to comply. He loved the story and found it very touching. "I felt drawn to it," he said.
The next order of business was to find the right actor to play Hubbell opposite Streisand. "Originally we had assumed [Ryan] O'Neal would play Hubbell," said Arthur Laurents, "but by the time the picture was ready to go into production, his affair with Barbra was over, the movie they made together (What's Up, Doc?, 1972) was over, their chemistry was over. Ray wanted a new blond for Barbra: Robert Redford. Sydney Pollack was the key to Redford; they were like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."
Everyone agreed that Redford would make the perfect Hubbell. There was just one small problem: Redford wanted nothing to do with The Way We Were. "Ray Stark was the man behind it," explained Redford according to Michael Feeney Callan's 2011 biography Robert Redford, "and I told [Pollack] it sounded to me like another Ray Stark ego trip. I didn't even want to read it."
Word was that when Pollack eventually got Redford to read the script, Redford thought it was great--for Barbra Streisand, but not for him. "His reluctance was really because when he initially read it," explained Pollack, "he felt it was a rather weak role. That the guy was essentially a guy with no spine, that he was pretty, and talented but spineless, didn't stand up for anything and was kind of the pin-up girl in reverse. He was the sex object this time and she was the really committed lady."
Pollack began an aggressive campaign to get his friend Redford to agree to do the film. "I spent more time trying to convince Redford to do the picture," said Pollack, "than I've ever spent in my life on anything because I think he was a vital, vital element in this."
The back and forth with Robert Redford went on so long that Ray Stark was beginning to lose patience. He eventually threatened to hire Ryan O'Neal if Redford didn't make up his mind and commit to the picture immediately. At the eleventh hour, with Sydney Pollack's assurance that Hubbell's character would be strengthened, Redford relented and agreed to do The Way We Were.
During the rewrite process on the screenplay, Arthur Laurents often found himself at odds with Pollack, Stark and Redford. Laurents resisted changing how Hubbell was written and wanted to keep the political storyline front and center. Pollack, Stark and Redford, however, wanted to cut some of the politics, beef up the love story and make Hubbell a much stronger presence. Frustrations were running high on both sides. It also didn't help that Laurents felt that Pollack and Redford were an exclusive club that he perceived to be actively shutting him out. Soon Laurents got the news from Pollack that he was fired.
"The hurt was unexpected," said Laurents. "It was very painful, I was surprised how painful. It was only a movie, for God's sake. But of course, it wasn't only a movie. The story was mine; it came from me, the characters came from me, there was some of me in all the people and what happened to them. It hurt and what made it hurt more was why I was fired. Robert Redford was dissatisfied with his part. That much, Sydney told me; why he was dissatisfied he never told me."
One explanation that Pollack later offered regarding Laurents' dismissal had to do with his inability to resolve the political storyline. "It was about a relationship complicated by HUAC, but those vivid subtexts were lost. It's not that he didn't understand HUAC, but he didn't contextualize it properly. There had to be a kind of education curve for the audience, and Arthur was bad at that...I did not alter Laurents' story line 'manipulatively,' as Arthur accused. I did it because I had a hunch Bob and Barbra would be magical together, and I knew I had to engage Bob's intelligence."
Following Laurents' unceremonious departure, Sydney Pollack brought in a total of eleven different writers--among them Alvin Sargent and Dalton Trumbo--to work on getting the screenplay where he and Redford wanted it. The constant stream of rewrites caused production to be delayed time and again, much to everyone's dismay. In the end, having too many cooks in the proverbial kitchen created more problems than it solved. "They hadn't kept track of the rewrites of the rewrites," noted Arthur Laurents. "There were holes in scenes, the story was garbled, Barbra was unhappy, Redford wasn't any happier..."
Eventually, with a heaping dose of swallowed crow, Pollack called Laurents and asked him to come back. "They wanted me to repair the damage, cover it and make sure that what remained to be shot was kept on track," said Laurents. "I was past hurt and anger; I had no feeling of vindication or victory, pyrrhic or otherwise. I cared to the extent that I had pride in my work. I'd take a crack at salvaging and protecting it as much as I could but I would not let myself be hurt again. I would keep reminding myself it was only a movie and movies were not really for writers. I asked for an exorbitant amount of money which I knew I would get; they will always pay during what they won't pay before. I told Ray I would say what I thought and would write what I wanted. If Sydney and Co. wanted something else, I would take the first plane home."
Finally after the rewrites, Robert Redford became much happier with his character. "I give full credit to Sydney," said Redford. "And he did honorably respond to my script concerns...Hubbell isn't a victim anymore. He's his own man. And that strength gave him a weight in the romance that made the final split with Katie dramatic."
by Andrea Passafiume
The Way We Were (1973)
Filming began on The Way We Were in September 1972. The cast and crew first traveled to the Union College campus in Schenectady, New York for two weeks of location shooting. Following that, the production moved to Manhattan. When word got out to the public that Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford would be filming on the city streets, it was no small feat to keep crowds of adoring fans at bay.
Streisand and Redford had very different approaches to acting. Streisand liked to analyze the part at length and rehearse a great deal, while Redford was more of an intuitive actor, preferring to be more spontaneous. "Barbra would call me up every night at nine, ten o'clock and talk about the next day's work for an hour, two hours on the phone," recalled director Sydney Pollack. "Then she'd get in there and start to talk and Bob would want to do it. And Bob felt the more the talk went, the staler he got. She would feel like he was rushing her. The more rehearsing we did, she would begin to go uphill and he would peak and go downhill. So I was like a jockey trying to figure out when to roll the camera and get them to coincide."
Despite their differences, however, Streisand and Redford had a deep respect for each other and worked well together. They were both opposite in many ways, just like their characters, and they used those differences to the benefit of the film. "I just loved working with him," said Streisand years later. "Every day was an exciting adventure. We played well together--in the moment, slightly different, slightly unknowing, always interesting. He's a man of depth who has what it takes to be a great movie star: mystery behind the eyes. You wonder, What is he really thinking?" Redford was also intrigued by Streisand. "When we started on The Way We Were, she wanted me to be Hubbell," said Redford. "That was how she conceived me. And then, as the shoot went on, she saw I was not that man, not in any way. So she reoriented herself, and the professional took over. But afterward I wondered, Did she return to that banal concept of me? Was I--am I--a Hubbell figure in her mind? I never fully sorted that out, and some of that tension made our chemistry on-screen."
Meanwhile, re-hired screenwriter Arthur Laurents returned to work, but the atmosphere was still full of tension. "The set was an unacknowledged battlefield--," said Laurents, "Sydney and Redford on one side, me on the other, Barbra in between..." Laurents was often frustrated over Sydney Pollack's choices as a director. He fought to keep certain lines and scenes in the film that Pollack wanted to cut or change. Streisand was an ally to Laurents most of the time when conflicts arose, often supporting his suggestions. "[Streisand] had been a wonderful pest, dredging up a scene here, a line there from my earlier versions, lugging them to the set and utzing Sydney to put them back," said Laurents. "She knew Katie Morosky better than he did and fought like her for her."
Among the battles that Laurents fought (and won) to keep in The Way We Were was the "People are their principles" line that Katie says to Hubbell during their big confrontation at Union Station. That line, said Laurents, was "the point of the whole scene, the political point of the whole picture."
In another instance, Laurents fought to keep one of Hubbell's lines in the film. In the scene towards the end when it's clear the couple is headed for a split, Katie says to Hubbell, "I want us to love each other." The original script had Hubbell responding, "The trouble is we do." It was a line, said Laurents, that "summed up the relationship between Hubbell and Katie: they loved each other despite, not because." Pollack ended up cutting the line to Laurents' dismay. "The simple problem," said Laurents, "was that the man who was directing a political love story knew even less about love than he did about politics."
Eventually, Laurents came to realize that he would have to accept the changes to his original work. "To make a mantra of 'It's only a movie' was as useless and foolish as feeling pain," he said. "No matter what I felt or thought, no matter what I tried to accomplish or how, Sydney Pollack would ultimately have his way. That was what I had to face and accept. They didn't cry 'Author! Author!' in the movies, they never had. Now they cried 'Auteur! Auteur!' -- even if the auteur f*cked up the picture."
After the last leg of filming was completed at The Burbank Studios, The Way We Were was ready to go into post-production. There was already great anticipation growing for the film, as the public couldn't wait to see two of Hollywood's biggest stars working together on the big screen. From a business standpoint, there was also great pressure for the film to be a hit. "Columbia [Pictures] was terribly worried," explained Sydney Pollack. "They were going under at the time, they were changing management, they hadn't had a hit in years."
A rough cut of The Way We Were screened in a San Francisco theater as a sneak preview. The audience, however, didn't respond as positively as hoped. Sydney Pollack and film editor Margaret Booth immediately retreated back to the cutting room where they ended up trimming five scenes, eliminating approximately eleven minutes of footage. It was mostly political material that got the axe including a scene in which Katie, living in Hollywood, drives by the UCLA campus and sees a younger version of her activist self, and another in which Hubbell tells Katie that an old friend has betrayed her to HUAC (both scenes can be seen as extras on the DVD Special Edition).
Having those scenes excised from the film upset Barbra Streisand. "There weren't many movies made about this period of time in the blacklist," she explained in a 1999 interview, "and that's why it killed me to have those two scenes taken out. I was really heartbroken." Redford was also unhappy with the cuts, but it was clear to Sydney Pollack that preview audiences were responding more to the love story, and the political angle had to be toned down a bit. "I think we'd both have preferred a more political Dalton Trumbo-type script," said Redford later, "but finally Sydney came down on the side of the love story. He said, 'This is first and foremost a love affair,' and we conceded that. We trusted his instincts, and he was right." The very next time the film was previewed for audiences with the new changes, the response was much more enthusiastic.
Even though Barbra Streisand had resisted singing for The Way We Were, producer Ray Stark eventually convinced her to use her golden pipes to perform a theme song that would play over the film's opening credits. Stark approached the young composer Marvin Hamlisch, whose history with Streisand dated all the way back to Funny Girl on Broadway--a show on which Hamlisch had served as the rehearsal pianist. "'Marvin, I'm working on a new picture which needs a theme song,'" said Stark according to Hamlisch in his 1992 memoir The Way I Was. "'I think it's up your alley, and I'd like to give you a chance. But you haven't got the track record yet, Marvin, and the director wants you to do this on spec.' Which meant that if he didn't care for the song, it was no harm, no foul. I'd be here today, gone tomorrow. If, on the other hand, he liked it, I would get the job of scoring the whole movie. What Stark didn't tell me till the end of the conversation was that the director was Sydney Pollack, the stars were Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford, and the movie was The Way We Were. For this I would certainly work 'on spec,' and I must confess that I sensed from the beginning that this was going to be my watershed in the movies."
Hamlisch's goal was to capture the melancholic beauty of a love story between two people who couldn't make their relationship work in his music: "the sorrow and despondency and pain of the relationship and its outcome, the frustration and yearning of the woman in the relationship, and the star-crossed nature of it all."
After Hamlisch had composed the music for the theme song, it next needed lyrics. Ray Stark called in the distinguished songwriting team of Alan and Marilyn Bergman, who had recently won an Academy Award for the theme song to The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), "The Windmills of Your Mind." The words they came up with for "The Way We Were" met with everyone's approval. "The lyrics," said Hamlisch, "couldn't have been better."
When Streisand heard the song for the first time, she loved it. However, she made two important suggestions that ended up transforming the song into something even better. She suggested a slight shift in the melody to send it soaring at a crucial point in the song, and she also suggested changing the first line of the song from "Daydreams light the corners of my mind" to "Memories light the corners of my mind." The rest, as they say, is history.
While waiting for the final cut of The Way We Were to be completed, lyricist Alan Bergman began to have second thoughts about the song they had turned in. He suggested to Marvin Hamlisch that they come up with another version of "The Way We Were" to see if they could do even better. Reluctantly, Hamlisch agreed to try.
The new song they wrote (nicknamed "The Way We Were 2") was, Hamlisch described, "more complex in structure, with a more complicated melody." Streisand liked it and recorded it. When the time came to actually put the song with the film, no one could decide which version of it to use. Sydney Pollack had the idea to put both songs with the film and play each version separately so that everyone could compare the two. When he was done, it was clear by all accounts that the original version of "The Way We Were" was the right choice.
When Hamlisch had finished orchestrating the film's score, he couldn't wait to see how audiences would respond, especially at the heartbreaking final scene between Katie and Hubbell in front of the Plaza Hotel. "Now the Hamlisch acid test for movie emotion is simple: Do people cry?" said Hamlisch. "The audience at the preview had not, and I knew part of the blame was mine. I had specifically shied away from using "The Way We Were" music in the final scene, because I thought it would be excessive. Leo Shuken, my arranger, had disagreed: 'Marvin, if you play it twenty times, the audience may think they've only heard it three or four times. Remember, while you are listening to the clarinet and the oboe, they are listening to the dialogue.' He was right. I knew now without a doubt that the theme had to be there at the end. This would push the audience over the edge into tears."
Hamlisch pleaded with the head of Columbia Pictures' music department to let him have another recording session with an orchestra so that he could put additional music into the final scene that would be appropriately emotional. He knew it would make all the difference. Columbia agreed to his request, but the money to do it would come out of Hamlisch's own pocket. "So I spent the money," he said, "which, believe me, wasn't mere pocket change. But the new music went into the movie. And now, finally, I had what I wanted. I waited for the next preview. Streisand sees Redford with his new girlfriend outside the Plaza. She touches his unruly lock of hair. And then the music builds and sweeps the screen. I was standing at the back of the movie house; I heard a woman start to cry. And then I heard another. And within minutes, there wasn't a dry eye left. I knew I was right. And knowing it was right made it worth every penny."
by Andrea Passafiume
The Way We Were (1973)
Robert Redford made the transition from rising star to international sexsymbol when he teamed with his most memorable leading lady, BarbraStreisand, for the 1973 romantic drama The Way We Were. So strongan impact did the film make that almost 30 years later, fans andinterviewers continue to ask them when they will be joining forces foranother film. And although the re-teaming has yet to happen, it'sinteresting to note that their first get together barely made it to thescreen either.
Playwright Arthur Laurents (West Side Story, Gypsy) had beenasked to write a dramatic film script for Barbra Streisand by producer RayStark, who had helped make her a star with both the stage and screenversions of Funny Girl (1968). Struck by Streisand's fiery nature andpolitical interests, Laurents started a story inspired by a campus radicalhe had known in the '30s, giving her an unlikely crush on her exactopposite, a blond writer from a privileged background. To this he addedhis own memories of campus political protests and life in Hollywood duringthe anti-Communist Witch Hunts to forge the romance of Katie Morosky andHubbell Gardner. Stark loved the treatment, and Laurents turned hisoriginal 125-page narrative into a novel that reached publication beforethe film's release.
Originally Stark and Streisand were interested in casting her co-star fromWhat's Up, Doc? (1972), Ryan O'Neal, in the male lead. The stars hadstarted a romance during filming, but by casting time the relationship hadcooled, and so had their chemistry. Then Stark and Streisand decided thatRedford was the perfect choice for leading man; his blond, blue-eyedcoolness would provide the perfect contrast to her. But Redford didn'tcare for the first draft screenplay and turned them down, complaining thatthe male character was undeveloped compared to the female lead.Fortunately, their first choice for director, Sydney Pollack, had workedwith Redford and was instrumental in promising him the re-writes that wouldmake the role more acceptable. When Laurents' final draft didn't pleasehim, they fired the original writer and went through 11 others, includingFrancis Ford Coppola and Dalton Trumbo, trying to come up with the rightbalance.
By this point, shooting had begun. Locations for the college scenes hadbeen set for Williams College in Massachusetts, but the delays caused bygetting Redford to sign and going through re-writes had pushed productiontoo late for the school to accommodate, so they had to move to UnionCollege in Schenectady, N.Y., instead. By this point, the screenplay was amess, filled with holes left by the many different writers, so Stark andPollack begged Laurents to return, at a much higher fee. Streisand hadbeen fighting all along to restore some of his cut material. With hishelp, they tried to get even more back in, though they didn't alwayssucceed. Adding to the on-set problems was a big difference between thetwo stars' approaches to acting. Although they respected each other agreat deal, Streisand liked to discuss her work in copious detail beforeshooting, while Redford felt that discussions robbed his work of freshness.Pollack had to bring their different methods together, often by spendinghours on the phone with Streisand each night to discuss the next day'sshooting.
Despite all the problems, however, previews indicated that The Way WeWere was going to be a winner. For all his initial misgivings,Redford's performance registered very strongly with viewers. Afraid thathe was stealing the picture, Streisand reconsidered an earlier decision notto sing in the film (she wanted to be appreciated solely as a dramaticactress) and agreed to record the title song for use in the soundtrack.The song helped make the film an even bigger success, bringing Streisand herfirst number one hit and first gold record. It also made Marvin Hamlischthe first composer to win all three Oscars®: for music in a single year. He won for Best Song and Best Original Score for The Way We Were andBest Adapted Score for Redford's other big 1973 hit, TheSting.
With the movie's strong showing at the box office and continuing popularity, fans have long demanded a sequel from the two stars. Laurents actually wrote one set in the late '60s at Redford's urging. His story would have had Katie and Hubbell brought back together by theirdaughter's involvement in the anti-war movement, with a major sequenceinvolving them in the riots at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago.At one point, Streisand was even planning to produce and direct the pictureherself, but nothing has ever come of it. A few years back, Starkapproached Laurents with another proposal for using the material -- as astage musical to star Kathie Lee Gifford. That this never came to pass maybring fans of the original at least some consolation.
Producer: Ray Stark
Director: Sydney Pollack
Screenplay: Arthur Laurents
Cinematography: Harry Stradling, Jr.
Art Direction: Stephen B. Grimes, William Kiernan
Music: Marvin Hamlisch
Principal Cast: Barbra Streisand (Katie Morosky), Robert Redford (Hubbell Gardner), Bradford Dillman (J.J.), Lois Chiles (Carol Ann), Patrick O'Neal (George Bissinger), Viveca Lindfors (Paula), Allyn Ann McLerie (Rhea Edwards), Herb Edelman (Bill Verso), Sally Kirkland (Pony Dunbar), JamesWoods (Frankie McVeigh).
C-119m. Letterboxed. Closed Captioning.
by Frank Miller
The Way We Were (1973)
AWARDS AND HONORS
The Way We Were was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Actress (Barbra Streisand), Best Original Score, Best Original Song ("The Way We Were"), Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design. It won in two categories: Best Original Song and Best Original Score.
The film received two Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture Actress in a Drama (Barbra Streisand) and Best Original Song. It won in the latter category.
Barbra Streisand was nominated for a BAFTA Award as Best Actress.
The motion picture soundtrack for The Way We Were won a Grammy Award for being the Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture.
"The Way We Were" won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year.
The National Board of Review named The Way We Were as one of the Top Ten Films of 1973.
Screenwriter Arthur Laurents was nominated for a Writers Guild of America (WGA) Award for Best Drama Written Directly for the Screen.
In 2002 the American Film Institute ranked The Way We Were number 6 on its list of the 100 Greatest Love Stories of all Time, "100 Years...100 Passions."
In 2004 the American Film Institute ranked the title theme song to The Way We Were number 8 on its list of the top 100 Movie Songs of All Time, "100 Years...100 Songs."
Barbra Streisand's single of "The Way We Were" went to number one on the Billboard Top 100 chart as well as the Adult Contemporary Chart.
THE CRITIC'S CORNER - THE WAY WE WERE
"The film version of Arthur Laurents' book is a distended, talky, redundant and moody melodrama, combining young love, relentless 1930s and 1940s nostalgia, and spiced artificiality with Hollywood Red-hunt pellets. The major positive achievement is Barbra Streisand's superior dramatic versatility, but Robert Redford has too little to work with in the script...The overemphasis on Streisand makes the film just another one of those Streisand vehicles where no other elements ever get a chance. Redford's role is another instance of wasting his talent. Supporting players are virtual cameos." -- Variety
"Now comes The Way We Were, which is essentially just a love story, and not sturdy enough to carry the burden of both radical politics and a bittersweet ending...It's easy to forgive the movie a lot because of Streisand. She's fantastic. She's the brightest, quickest female actress in movies today, inhabiting her characters with a fierce energy and yet able to be touchingly vulnerable...The Redford character perhaps in reaction to the inevitable Streisand performance, is passive and without edges. The primary purpose of the character is to provide someone into whose life Streisand can enter and then leave. That's sort of thankless, but Redford handles it well." -- Roger Ebert, The Chicago Sun-Times
"It flows like velvet. That's why the movie is so likable. We lost a lot of innocence in the dark movie palace of our youth. The Way We Were reclaims it for us. Years from now, in some futuristic movie museum, it just might be one of the movies we'll be looking at and remembering with fondness." -- Rex Reed
"First-class love story." -- Leonard Maltin's Movie and Video Guide
"Barbra Streisand does something quite remarkable in The Way We Were. She acts." -- The New York Daily News
"I would trade many an art-film classic for the final exchange between Redford and Streisand in front of the Plaza." -- Molly Haskell, The Village Voice
"Like their relationship, the film works best when they are alone. But with the script glossing whole areas of confrontation (from the communist '30s to the McCarthy witch-hunts), it often passes into the haze of a nostalgic fashion parade. Although Streisand's liberated Jewish lady is implausible, and emphasizes the period setting as just so much dressing, Redford's Fitzgerald-type character, whose easy success carries the seeds of his possible destruction, is an intriguing trailer for his later Great Gatsby. It's a performance that brings more weight to the film than it deserves, often hinting at depths that are finally skated over." -- TimeOut Movie Guide.Compiled by Andrea Passafiume