Trivia & Fun Facts About THE WAY WE WERE
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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