The Way We Were
Barbra Streisand

Told in flashback, it is the story of Katie Morosky (Barbra Streisand) and Hubbell Gardiner (Robert Redford), who meet at college in the 1930s. Their differences are immense: she is a vocal Marxist Jew with strong anti-war opinions, and he is a carefree WASP with no particular political bent. She is drawn to him because of his boyish good looks and his natural writing skill, which she finds confident and captivating, although he doesn't work very hard at it. He is intrigued by her conviction and her determination to persuade others to take up social causes. They meet, romantically, for the first time on the night that the Duke of Windsor marries Mrs. Simpson.

The two meet again at the end of World War II. She is working at a radio station, and he, having served as a Naval officer in the South Pacific, is trying to return to civilian life. They fall in love and marry despite the differences in their background and temperament. Soon, however, Katie is incensed by the cynical jokes Hubbell's friends make and is unable to understand his acceptance of their insensitivity and shallow dismissal of political engagement. At the same time, his serenity is disturbed by her lack of social graces and her polarizing postures.

When Hubbell seeks a job as a Hollywood screenwriter, Katie believes he's wasting his talent and encourages him to pursue writing as a serious challenge instead. Despite her growing frustration, they move to California, where he becomes a successful screenwriter, and the couple enjoys an affluent lifestyle. As the Hollywood blacklist grows and McCarthyism begins to encroach on their lives, Katie's political activism resurfaces, jeopardizing Hubbell's position and reputation.

Alienated by Katie's persistent abrasiveness, Hubbell has an affair with Carol Ann (Lois Chiles), his college girlfriend and the ex-wife of his best friend J.J. (Bradford Dillman) even though Katie is pregnant. Katie and Hubbell decide to divorce when she finally understands he is not the man she idealized when she fell in love with him and will always choose the easiest way out, whether it is cheating in his marriage or writing predictable stories for sitcoms. Hubbell, on the other hand, is exhausted, unable to live on the pedestal Katie erected for him.

Several years after their divorce, Katie and Hubbell meet by coincidence, in front of the Plaza Hotel in New York City. Hubbell, who is with a stylish beauty and apparently content, is now writing for a popular sitcom as one of a group of nameless writers. Katie has remained faithful to who she is: flyers in hand, protesting against the A-Bomb.

Katie, now re-married, invites Hubbell to come for a drink with his lady friend, but he confesses he can't. Katie's response acknowledges what they both finally understand: Hubbell was at his best when he was with her, and no one will ever believe in him or see as much promise in him as she once did. Their past is behind them; all the two share now, besides their daughter, is a memory of the way they were.

Oscar
6 Nominations
2 Awards
Best Score
Best Song

Golden Globes
2 Nominations
1 Awards
Best Song
The film is both a romance about star-crossed lovers and a morality tale about the importance of commitment to one's ideals. Arthur Laurents wrote a lengthy treatment for Producer Ray Stark, who read it on a transcontinental flight and called the screenwriter the moment he arrived in Los Angeles to greenlight the project. He began writing the screenplay with the sole intention of using Barbra Streisand in the role of Katie. He had also been so impressed with “They Shoot Horses, Don't They?” and suggested Sydney Pollack to direct, a decision he ultimately regretted. Laurents was horrified when he saw the first rough cut of the film. There were a few good scenes, and some good moments in bad scenes, but overall he thought it was a badly photographed jumbled mess lacking coherence. Both stars appeared to be playing themselves more often than their characters.

Pollack admitted the film wasn't good, accepted full responsibility for its problems, and the following day he retreated to the editing room to improve it as much as possible. Laurents felt the changes made it better but never as good as it could have been. I never read the original script, but I feel the movie was as near perfect as could be. Redford and Streisand are perfectly cast as the two star crossed lovers doomed from the beginning. The old saying “opposites attract” is never more so evident as in “The Way We Were”.

Redford’s Hubbell is a charismatic, charming, very good-looking man. He plays the role with confidence and strength. Sydney Pollack had to convince his friend Redford to take on the part of Hubble Gardner; Redford was reluctant, saying his character, while a decent guy at heart, is also shallow, somewhat superficial, and doesn't take life seriously. The film obviously exploits Redford's golden boy looks, something he always detested.

Streisand’s role as Katie is the definitive strong-minded young woman. She has such a passion for causes that sometimes it impedes all life around her. But never was a role so suited for her.

“The Way We Were” is different from most romances in that it is not death, struggling families, or any other societal event that directly tear the couple apart. Katie and Hubbell are simply passionate individuals with highly volatile, and contrasting, ideologies; the conflict of which is expressed in several fantastic scenes that shine with the type of intelligence and honesty that is rarely seen in movies today.

The film's enduring popular success with the mass audience is due to the magnetic chemistry between Streisand and Redford, the beautiful cinematography, and the magnificent Pollack. Also brilliant are Bradford Dillman, Lois Chiles and James Woods as the perfect supporting cast who remain friends with the couple long after their divorce. Although their roles were not that large, they played them with great zest, which moved the film along. Most notable is Viveca Linfors as Paula, Katie’s friend who she stands beside during the House Un-American Activities blacklist era, a time that should never be forgotten… or repeated.

While the movie was nominated for six Academy Awards, it won only two for Best Score (beautifully written by Marvin Hamlisch) and Best Song, The Way We Were sung by Streisand and written by Alan and Marilyn Bergman. The final scene is one of the most emotional scenes I believe ever written, when Katie and Hubbell accidentally meet in New York and she brushes the hair from his forehead and they hug. Whatever your feelings are about Barbra Streisand or Robert Redford, put your feelings aside and watch this movie. It will change your mind forever.