Friday, July 19, 2013
The Way We Were
Sydney Pollack was an actor/director/producer of both the small and big screens. He was prolific and popular and known best for his films that spanned across the last thirty decades of the twentieth century. Films like TOOTSIE (1982), OUT OF AFRICA (1985), THEY SHOOT HORSES DON'T THEY? (1969) and THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR (1975) reflected his diversity in range, quality of compelling story-telling, and ability to make award-nominated and award-winning films. One film that stands out in his long filmography of excellence is THE WAY WE WERE (1973).
The most memorable scene in this film is assuredly the final. Years have passed again. The two paths cross by chance in New York City, in front of the Plaza Hotel. He reveals he has remained unchanged- writing sitcoms in Hollywood, content in his shallow mediocrity. He is traveling with a nameless and simple beauty. With political flyers in hand, she is confident and happily remarried, as she proudly shares a brief update of their daughter, Rachel. Katie invites him and his female companion for a drink. He declines but he looks at her with admiration and wonder of love lost. She generously responds, "your girl is lovely, Hubbell."
There are many examples to their fate, their true characters and even hints of Katie's humor throughout:
Hubbell: People are more important than their principles.
Katie: People ARE their principles.
Hubbell: You never give up, do you?
Katie: Only when I'm absolutely forced to. But I'm a very good loser...
Hubbell: Better than I am.
Katie: Well, I've had... more practice.
[on the topic of political causes advocacy]
Hubbell: I don't see how you can do it.
Katie: And I don't see how you can't.
As an audience watching this fated romance unfold, we are either empathetic as we relate to some flawed aspect of their relationship as we compare to our own histories or perhaps more sympathetically, as we ponder the uncomfortably slow train wreck. The performances by Streisand and Redford are so believably compelling to their characters that even though our intellect tells us they don't belong together, our hearts secretly wish they could, just SOMEHOW, make it work. We are if anything, a society replete with hopeful romantics; which is why this film was such a huge success. THE WAY WE WERE's successes included earning Academy Awards for Best Music, Original Dramatic Score and Best Music, Original Song, a Golden Globe for Best Original Song, a Grammy for Album of Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture, plus Oscar nominees... Best Actress in a Leading Role (Barbra Streisand), Best Art Direction- Set Direction, Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design. For many like me, it's Barbra Streisand's stirring rendition of the award-winning title song that remains a enduring favorite.
*This post is part of the SYDNEY POLLACK BLOGATHON, as hosted by my classic film friend Ratanakar Sadasyula's (aka @ScorpiusMaximus) blog, "Seetimaar- Diary of a Movie Lover". Be sure to catch the full list of participating bloggers there from July 1-22nd. Enjoy!