Love Story (1970 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Arthur Hiller|
|Produced by||Howard G. Minsky|
|Written by||Erich Segal|
|Music by||Francis Lai|
|Editing by||Robert C. Jones|
|Studio||Love Story Company
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Running time||99 minutes|
A tragedy, the film is considered one of the most romantic of all time by the American Film Institute (#9 on the list). It was followed by a sequel, Oliver's Story (1978), starring O'Neal with Candice Bergen.
Oliver Barrett IV comes from a family of wealthy and well-respected Harvard University graduates. At a library, the Harvard student and hockey player meets Jennifer Cavalleri, a working-class, quick-witted Radcliffe College student, and they quickly fall in love.
Upon graduation from college, the two decide to marry against the wishes of Oliver's father, who thereupon severs ties with his son.
Without his father's financial support, the couple struggles to pay Oliver's way through Harvard Law School with Jenny working as a private school teacher. They rent the top floor of a house near the Law School at 119 Oxford Street, in the Agassiz neighborhood of Cambridge adjacent to a local laundromat. Graduating third in his class at Harvard Law, Oliver takes a position at a respectable New York law firm.
With Oliver's new income, the pair of 24-year-olds decide to have a child. After failing, they consult a medical specialist, who after repeated tests, informs Oliver that Jenny is ill and will soon die. While this is not stated explicitly, she appears to have leukemia.
As instructed by his doctor, Oliver attempts to live a "normal life" without telling Jenny of her condition. Jenny nevertheless discovers her ailment after confronting her doctor about her recent illness. With their days together numbered, Jenny begins costly cancer therapy, and Oliver soon becomes unable to afford the multiplying hospital expenses. Desperate, he seeks financial relief from his father. When the senior Barrett asks if he needs the money because he got some girl "in trouble," Oliver says yes instead of telling his father the truth about Jenny's condition.
From her hospital bed, Jenny speaks with her father about funeral arrangements, then asks for Oliver. She tells him to avoid blaming himself, and asks him to embrace her tightly before she dies. They lie together on the hospital bed.
As a grief-stricken Oliver leaves the hospital, he is met by his father, who now wants to apologize. Oliver replies with something Jenny once told him: "Love means never having to say you're sorry."
- Ali MacGraw as Jennifer "Jenny" Cavalleri
- Ryan O'Neal as Oliver Barrett IV
- John Marley as Phil Cavalleri
- Ray Milland as Oliver Barrett III
- Russell Nype as Dean Thompson
- Katharine Balfour as Mrs. Barrett
- Sydney Walker as Dr. Shapely
- Robert Modica as Dr. Addison
- Walker Daniels as Ray Stratton
- Tommy Lee Jones as Hank Simpson
- John Merensky as Steve
- Andrew Duncan as Reverend Blaufelt
Erich Segal originally wrote the screenplay and sold it to Paramount Pictures. While the film was being produced, Paramount wanted Segal to write a novel based on it, to be published on Valentine's Day to help pre-publicize the release of the film. When the novel came out, it became a bestseller on its own in advance of the film.
The Love Story production caused damage to the Harvard campus, and that experience, along with a similar experience with the film A Small Circle of Friends (1980), caused the university administration to deny most subsequent requests for filming on location there.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Love Story (film)|
Two lines from the film have entered popular culture:
- What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died? That she was beautiful and brilliant? That she loved Mozart and Bach? The Beatles? And me?
The latter is spoken twice in the film; once by Jennifer when Oliver is about to apologize to her for his anger. It is also spoken by Oliver to his father when his father says "I'm sorry" after hearing of Jennifer's death.
The 1972 comedy What's Up, Doc?, which stars O'Neal (who played Oliver in Love Story), pays homage to this trademark line. At the end of that film, when Barbra Streisand's character coos "Love means never having to say you're sorry" while batting her eyelashes, O'Neal's character responds with the line: "That's the dumbest thing I ever heard."
Awards and nominations 
Love Story was nominated for seven 1970 Academy Awards, winning one:
It was nominated in the categories of:
- Best Picture — Howard G. Minsky
- Best Director — Arthur Hiller
- Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Not Previously Published — Erich Segal
- Best Actor in a Leading Role — Ryan O'Neal
- Best Actress in a Leading Role — Ali MacGraw
- Best Actor in a Supporting Role — John Marley
In addition, Love Story won five Golden Globe Awards including Best Drama Motion Picture and Best Director for Arthur Hiller. Ali MacGraw received an award for Best Actress, while Francis Lai received an award as well for his score. Finally, Erich Segal received one for his screenplay as well. O'Neal and Marley were each nominees.
Although popular with audiences and most reviewers, such as Roger Ebert, the film was disliked by many others. Newsweek felt the film was contrived and film critic Judith Crist called Love Story "Camille with bullshit." Writer Harlan Ellison was on record in The Other Glass Teat, his book of collected criticism, as calling it "shit". President Richard Nixon however, reportedly enjoyed the film, regretting only that it contained so much cursing.
The film is scored number nine on the AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions list, which recognizes the top 100 love stories in American cinema. The film also spawned a trove of imitations, parodies, and homages in countless films, having re-energized melodrama on the silver screen as well as helping to set the template for the modern "chick flick".
The film became the highest grossing film of 1970 in U.S and Canada, grossing $106,397,186. It grossed an additional $30 million in international film markets. At the time of release, it was the 6th highest grossing film of all time in U.S and Canada gross only. Adjusted for inflation, the film remains as one of the top 40 domestic grosses of all time.
The Crimson Key Society, a student association, has sponsored showings of Love Story during orientation to each incoming class of Harvard College freshmen since the late 1970s. During the showings, society members and other audience members mock, boo, and jeer "maudlin, old-fashioned and just plain schlocky" moments to humorously build school spirit.
Overall, Love Story has received mixed reviews and maintains a 57% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Musical selections from the soundtrack 
- Concerto No. 3 in D Major for harpsichord, third movement — by Johann Sebastian Bach
- Sonata In F Major for flute and harpsichord, first movement — by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- Joy To The World — by George Frideric Handel and Isaac Watts
- A Fair Rose Is Blooming (Es ist ein Ros entsprungen) — by Michael Praetorius
- Love Story — by Francis Lai, performed by Francis Lai & His Orchestra
- Snow Frolic — by Francis Lai, performed by Francis Lai & His Orchestra
- I Love You, Phil — by Francis Lai
- The Christmas Tree — (traditional)
- Search for Jenny — by Francis Lai
- Bozo Barrett — by Francis Lai
- Long Walk Home — by Francis Lai
- Skating in Central Park — by John Lewis
O'Neal and Milland reprised their roles for a sequel, Oliver's Story, that was released in 1978. It was based on Erich Segal's 1977 novel. The film begins with Jenny's funeral and then picks up 18 months after her death. Oliver is a successful, but unhappy lawyer in New York. Although he still mourns over Jenny's passing, he manages to find love with an heiress Marcie Bonwit (Candice Bergen). Suffering from comparisons to the original, Oliver's Story did poorly with both audiences and critics.
"Ali MacGraw's Disease" 
In his glossary of movie conventions and clichés, Roger Ebert defines "Ali MacGraw's Disease" as a "Movie illness in which the only symptom is that the sufferer grows more beautiful as death approaches." Another review describes Jenny as suffering from "some kind of Elizabeth Arden disease".
- "Love Story, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
- Nathaniel L. Schwartz, "University, Hollywood Relationship Not Always a 'Love Story'", Harvard Crimson, 21 September 1999.
- Roger Ebert (1970-01-01). "Love Story". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2007-12-23.
- Griffin, Robert; Garvey, Michael (2003). In the Kingdom of the Lonely God. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 78. ISBN 0-7425-1485-4. Retrieved 2009-12-27.
- "DOMESTIC GROSSES". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-06-25.
- Vinciguerra, Thomas. "The Disease: Fatal. The Treatment: Mockery" The New York Times, 20 August 2010.
- Roger Ebert. "Definition of Ali MacGraw's Disease". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
- Vincent Canby (1970-12-18). "Love Story (1970) – Screen: Perfection and a 'Love Story': Erich Segal's Romantic Tale Begins Run". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-06-04.
- Love Story at the Internet Movie Database
- Love Story at AllRovi
- Film Rewind: Revisiting Love Story (fan summary)