Love Story (1970 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Arthur Hiller|
|Produced by||Howard G. Minsky|
|Screenplay by||Erich Segal|
|Based on||Love Story|
by Erich Segal
|Music by||Francis Lai|
|Edited by||Robert C. Jones|
Love Story Company
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$136.4 million|
Love Story is a 1970 American romantic drama film written by Erich Segal, who was also the author of the best-selling novel of the same name. It was produced by Howard G. Minsky and directed by Arthur Hiller and starred Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal, alongside John Marley, Ray Milland, and Tommy Lee Jones in his film debut in a minor role.
A tragedy, the film is considered one of the most romantic by the American Film Institute (#9 on the list) and is one of the highest-grossing films of all time. It was followed by a sequel, Oliver's Story (1978), starring O'Neal with Candice Bergen.
Oliver Barrett IV, the heir of an American upper-class East Coast family, is attending Harvard College where he plays ice hockey. He meets Jennifer "Jenny" Cavilleri, a quick-witted, working-class Radcliffe College student of classical music; they quickly fall in love despite their differences.
When Jenny reveals her plans to study in Paris, Oliver is upset that he does not figure in those plans. He proposes, she accepts, and they travel to the Barrett mansion so that she can meet Oliver's parents, who are judgmental and unimpressed with her. Later Oliver's father tells him that he will cut him off financially if he marries Jenny. After graduation Oliver and Jenny marry nonetheless.
Without his father's financial support, the couple struggle to pay Oliver's way through Harvard Law School; Jenny works as a teacher. Oliver graduates third in his class and takes a position at a respectable New York City law firm. They are ready to start a family, but fail to conceive. After many tests Oliver is told that Jenny is terminally ill.
Oliver attempts to live a "normal life" without telling Jenny of her condition, but she finds out after confronting her doctor. Oliver buys tickets to Paris, but she declines to go, wanting only to spend time with him. To pay for Jenny's cancer therapy, Oliver seeks money from his estranged father, who asks him if he has "gotten a girl in trouble." Oliver simply says yes, and his father writes a cheque.
From her hospital bed, Jenny makes funeral arrangements with her father, then asks for Oliver. She tells him to not blame himself, insisting that he never held her back from music and it was worth it for the love they shared. Jenny's last wish is made when she asks him to embrace her tightly before she dies. As grief-stricken Oliver leaves the hospital, he sees his father outside, having rushed to New York City from Massachusetts as soon as he heard the news about Jenny and wanting to offer his help. Oliver tells him, "Jenny's dead," and his father says "I'm sorry," to which Oliver responds, "Love– Love means never having to say you're sorry." Oliver walks back alone to the outdoor ice rink, where Jenny had watched him skate the day she was hospitalized.
- Ali MacGraw as Jennifer "Jenny" Cavilleri
- Ryan O'Neal as Oliver Barrett IV
- John Marley as Phil Cavilleri
- 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 original director was Larry Peerce. He backed out and was replaced by Anthony Harvey. Harvey dropped out and was replaced by Arthur Hiller. Jimmy Webb wrote a score for the film that was not used.
The lead role was turned down by Beau Bridges, Michael York and Jon Voight. Ryan O'Neal was given the lead role on the recommendation of Erich Segal, who had worked with the actor on The Games; he was paid $25,000.
The film was an instant box office smash.
Roger Ebert gave the film four out of four stars and called it "infinitely better than the book," adding, "because Hiller makes the lovers into individuals, of course we're moved by the film's conclusion. Why not?" Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times was also positive, writing that although "the plot-line has been honored many times ... It's the telling that matters: the surfaces and the textures and the charm of the actors. And it is hard to see how these quantities could have been significantly improved upon in 'Love Story.'"
Newsweek, however, felt the film was contrived and film critic Judith Crist called Love Story "Camille with bullshit." Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote, "I can't remember any movie of such comparable high-style kitsch since Leo McCarey's 'Love Affair' (1939) and his 1957 remake, 'An Affair to Remember.' The only really depressing thing about 'Love Story' is the thought of all the terrible imitations that will inevitably follow it." Gene Siskel gave the film two stars out of four and wrote that "whereas the novel has a built-in excuse for being spare (it is told strictly as the boy's reminiscence), the film does not. Seeing the characters in the movie ... makes us want to know something about them. We get precious little, and love by fiat doesn't work well in film." Gary Arnold of The Washington Post wrote, "I found this one of the most thoroughly resistible sentimental movies I've ever seen. There is scarcely a character or situation or line in the story that rings true, that suggests real simplicity or generosity of feeling, a sentiment or emotion honestly experienced and expressed." Writer Harlan Ellison was on record in The Other Glass Teat, his book of collected criticism, as calling it "shit."
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 is among the highest-grossing films in Canada and the United States, gaining $106,397,186 in rentals. 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 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.
The soundtrack from the film was released separately as an album, and distributed by Quality Records.
Musical selections from the soundtrack
- Theme from Love Story — by Francis Lai, performed by Francis Lai & His Orchestra
- Snow Frolic — by Francis Lai, performed by Francis Lai & His Orchestra
- Piano Sonata in F Major — by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- I Love You, Phil — by Francis Lai
- The Christmas Trees — by Francis Lai
- Search for Jenny — by Francis Lai
- Bozo Barrett — by Francis Lai
- Skating in Central Park — by John Lewis
- The Long Walk Home — by Francis Lai
- Harpsichord Concerto No. 3 in D Major — by Johann Sebastian Bach
- Theme from Love Story (Finale) — by Francis Lai, performed by Francis Lai & His Orchestra
Awards and nominations
Love Story was nominated for seven 1971 Academy Awards, winning one:
- Best Music, Original Score — Francis Lai
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 was nominated for seven Golden Globe Awards, winning five:
- Best Motion Picture - Drama
- Best Director — Arthur Hiller
- Best Actress in a Drama — Ali MacGraw
- Best Screenplay — Erich Segal
- Best Original Score — Francis Lai
It was also nominated for:
- Best Actor in a Drama — Ryan O'Neal
- Best Supporting Actor — John Marley
- David di Donatello for Best Foreign Actor - Ryan O'Neal
American Film Institute recognition
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies—Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions - #9
- AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes #13
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition)—Nominated
Two lines from the film have entered popular culture:
- What can you say about a 25-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 comedy What's Up, Doc? (1972), which stars O'Neal, refers to this line at the end, when Barbra Streisand's character says "Love means never having to say you're sorry", then bats her eyelashes. O'Neal's character responds, "That's the dumbest thing I ever heard."
Sequels and remake
O'Neal and Milland reprised their roles for a sequel, Oliver's Story, released in 1978. It was based on Segal's 1977 novel. The film begins with Jenny's funeral, then picks up 18 months later. Oliver is a successful, but unhappy, lawyer in New York. Although still mourning Jenny, he manages to find love with heiress Marcie Bonwit (Candice Bergen). Suffering from comparisons to the original, Oliver's Story did poorly with both audiences and critics.
NBC broadcast Love Story, a short-lived romantic anthology television series, in 1973-1974. Although it shared its name with the novel and movie and used the same theme song – "(Where Do I Begin) Love Story" – as the movie, it otherwise was unrelated to them, with no characters or storylines in common with either the novel or the movie. The original film was remade in India in the Malayalam language entitled Madanolsavam in 1978.
Another movie 'Sanam Teri Kasam' was made also in India in the Hindi language and released in 2016. The film is a modern rendition of the novel Love Story by Eric Segal. The film was released worldwide on 5 February 2016 under the production banner of Eros Now.
"Ali MacGraw's Disease"
Vincent Canby wrote in his original New York Times review that it was "as if Jenny was suffering from some vaguely unpleasant Elizabeth Arden treatment." Mad magazine ran a parody of the film ("Lover's Story") in its October 1971 issue which depicted Ali MacGraw's character as stricken with "Old Movie Disease," an ailment that causes a dying patient to become "more beautiful by the minute." In 1997, Roger Ebert defined "Ali MacGraw's Disease" as a movie illness in which "the only symptom is that the patient grows more beautiful until finally dying".
In popular culture
In 1971, the twentieth episode of the fourth season of The Carol Burnett Show featured a take-off of the film called "Lovely Story", with Carol Burnett in the MacGraw role and Harvey Korman in the O'Neal role.
- "LOVE STORY (AA)". British Board of Film Classification. January 20, 1971. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
- "Love Story, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
- "Howard Minsky, Hollywood Producer, Is Dead at 94".
- "DOMESTIC GROSSES". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-06-25.
- Lee, Grant (28 August 1977). "Ryan O'Neal: A Love-Hate Story". Los Angeles Times. p. q1.
- Haber, Joyce (6 Dec 1970). "Ryan O'Neal Has Plenty of Stories". Los Angeles Times. p. v31.
- Champlin, Charles (January 1, 1971). "The Lesson of 'Love Story'". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 1.
- Roger Ebert (1970-01-01). "Love Story". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2007-12-23.
- Champlin, Charles (December 20, 1970). "'Love Story' Tells It Like It Always Was". Los Angeles Times. Calendar, p. 29.
- 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.
- Canby, Vincent (December 18, 1970)."Screen: Perfection and a 'Love Story'". The New York Times. p. 44.
- Siskel, Gene (December 27, 1970). "'Love Story' a Return to Tearful Melodrama". Chicago Tribune. Section 5, p. 2.
- Arnold, Gary (December 26, 1970). "Love Story". The Washington Post. B1.
- Vinciguerra, Thomas. "The Disease: Fatal. The Treatment: Mockery" The New York Times, 20 August 2010.
- "Love Story". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
- Ritchie York (26 June 1971). From the Music Capitals of the World. Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 47–. ISSN 0006-2510.
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies Nominees
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) Ballot
- Siegel, Larry (October 1971). "Lover's Story". Mad. 146. 9.
- "Picks and Pans Review: Milk Money". People. September 12, 1994. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
- Roger Ebert. "For Roseanna (Review)". RogerEbert.com. Ebert Digital. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
- IMDB. "The Carol Burnett Show (1967–1978) Episode #4.20". Retrieved August 22, 2017.
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