The Way We Were

1973, Movie, PG, 118 mins

Review

starstarstarstar
La Babs with a blondish Afro spouting leftist rhetoric? Just call her Harpo Marxist. Here we have an engrossing, if occasionally ludicrous, hit tearjerker with Pollack, Streisand, and Redford doing a good job of bringing Arthur Laurents' script to the screen. It's a great campy romance and it does tell us something about the way we were from the 30s through the 50s, but a lot of the politics of the Blacklist period are missing from the film, apparently cut just before release.

Redford is a handsome WASP college student in the late 1930s. He yearns to be a writer, spends his spare time in mindless social activities, and is politically neutral. Streisand, in her big bid for old-fashioned romantic movie star status, is a radical Jewish student who joins every political organization. She is the butt of many jokes at the college (what a surprise!), and the sharpest barbs come from Redford's pals, though he doesn't feel the same way. They meet briefly at a dance and there is an attraction, but that's put on the back burner. Years pass, and WWII begins. Streisand is on the radio talking politics, and Redford is now a member of the armed forces. They meet again, but he is drunk, so she takes him back to her apartment where he passes out in her bed. Still later, he's a published author, and, while discussing his book, it's evident to both that the attraction they felt in college is still there. Redford's snobbish friends again try to wreck the relationship. She won't put up with their attitude, and Redford decides this might be the time to end their romance. They are reconciled, however, marry and move to California where Redford has received a screenplay assignment. She goes off to Washington to fight against the House Un-American Activities Committee. Streisand fears that Redford is selling out his talent. He begins to agree with her and is soon in trouble with the studio executives. Dillman, an old buddy of Redford, is the wishy-washy producer assigned to the project, and he wants certain changes in the script that Redford is loath to make. While Streisand is away, Redford seeks solace in the arms of an ex-girlfriend. Pregnant, Streisand is distraught and wants to end their marriage. They will wait until after their child is born, then part amicably. Years later, though, they meet again in New York. Redford has now sold out totally and makes his living writing for TV. Streisand has remarried. They meet in Central Park, and in a rather predictable ending, bid each other farewell. She walks away handing out "Ban the Bomb" leaflets as he shakes his head and calls out after her, "You never give up, do you?" Whether the screenwriter was referring to the character or the actress is anybody's guess. Give it up, girl. leave a comment

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