Love Story (1970)

Regardless as to whether or not you are in love, you still have to say sorry for the bone-headed things you do.

Young Harvard-bound lovers, Jennifer and Oliver Barrett IV (Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal), manage to stay together through college despite family warfare, class differences, and money issues. However, none of those problems stack-up against the truest power of them all: love.

In today’s day and age where we have teenage girls running out to the theaters with their moms, cell phones, and Kleenex boxes in-hand, all to see another Nicholas Sparks adaptation where everything happens the way you expect it to (fall in love, are happy, then bam, somebody has a disease), it’s pretty nice to see that same formula done, yet, done before them all. I know back in 1970, a story about two different people, from two different walks of life, getting together and falling in-love, was nothing new or refreshing, but seeing it in a way that’s actually heartfelt and realistic in a way, made it all the better. It’s just a shame that after 33 years now, we still haven’t been able to capture the same look and feel of love, quite as well as this movie. Yes, continue to make fun of me you bastards. You just aren’t in touch with your romantic-side like I am.

Let’s get something straight: I do not love this movie, but it isn’t all that bad. See, I enjoy a nice, simple story about love as long as it stays within the boundaries of reason. Many times, this movie crosses those boundaries that I’ve set for so long but that’s not the point of this movie, the point is getting the romance right and that’s what really saved the day for this movie, from my stand-point. The film starts-off with these two meeting each other, obviously realizing that they are very different, but also realizing that they have something between one another that’s worth sticking with, if only for a tad-bit.

Hey, what would any love story be without a little sexy time?
Hey, what would any love story be without a little sexy time?

Then, after awhile, the two begin to fall in love, get whispers of marriage, actually go-through with it, get a house, get jobs, make livings, and all before a big, final-act twist, it’s all fine and dandy. Does it sound obvious? Hell yes! Does it sound predictable? Oh you got it! Does it seem contrived? What other way could there be?!? However, does it work? Somehow, yes. I wasn’t in any type of mood to be swooning over a young, blissful romance, but the movie made me feel more for these characters and their romance together, especially when it seemed like they were at their happiest. It does go into those sappy moments where it’s a bit too hard to believe, but to be honest, that’s sometimes how love is and the flick never really shies away from that.

The main reason why I actually did believe in these two together was because the performances from the two are so damn good. Ali MacGraw pretty much ran-away from the spotlight after her and Steve McQueen divorced, but here, she shows some real talent as an actress that’s quick-witted, funny, honest, realistic, and altogether, very three-dimensional. This definitely seems like the type of girl you try to hit on at the bar, she turns you down, and before you can leave, makes you feel like the biggest idiot by throwing it all back into your face so you never forget her, what she said, or what your dumb-ass just said to her. She’s all fun and games, but there is also a very real person underneath all of that smarty pants stuff that works, and by the end, we begin to see a real person come out, rather than just one dude’s fantasy of the not-so typical girl that you can bone, talk long walks on the beach with, cuddle with, joke around with, and even share a beer or two with. I never understood why MacGraw left the spot-light before the 70’s was up because the girl was a pretty solid actress and could show these leading-ladies in sappy, romantic-dramas a thing or two about acting your ass off, but also being believable while doing so.

Ryan O’Neal gets a lot of shit nowadays for practically falling-off the map, getting into trouble with the law, looking like a slob, and apparently being a pretty, terrible father, but make no means about it, the guy’s a pretty solid actor. O’Neal does a nice-job at giving this somewhat spoiled, jock-of-a-guy a heart and sense of vulnerability that makes it easy to latch onto, especially when it seems like he’s just doing stuff to be cool and rebel against his richy-rich familia. O’Neal has a lot of moments where it seems like he’s doing a bit too much of one look (the sad, but determined look in his eyes), but he also has a lot of other moments where he feels like a real person, that’s really in love, and really just wants to do all that he can to keep it and keep himself happy and alive. Like MacGraw, it’s a shame that O’Neal hasn’t really been able to capture the same type of excellence he was able to capture here, but at least we all know the guy will still show-up and act, even if his last credit for acting has been Malibu’s Most Wanted. Poor guy.

Nothing shows love, quite like two people, no matter how old or young, just playing in the snow and making a snowman. Oh, the love.
Nothing shows love, quite like two people, no matter how old or young, just playing in the snow and making a snowman. Oh, the love.

Together, the two feel real and have a great chemistry that never really loses steam, even if the film itself, does. Although it’s a change-of-pace for me to finally get a romantic-drama that feels real and has me believe in the love once again, it still cannot go without saying that the flick still does it’s moments where it is absolutely corny and schmaltzy, almost to the point of laughable. Yes, it was the 70’s, and yes, things that happened, were said, or were done back in those days, may not be as cool as they are in the year of 2013, but still, it’s a bit distracting to the performances from these leads.

Then, of course, comes the final-twist that is probably as obvious and as contrived as you can get with a movie, but yet, if you look at it from one-view, it was sort of the first time a movie has ever used it. Nowadays, it seems like a piece of dry meat whenever a filmmaker pulls out the whole, “disease card”, by the end of the movie that it’s just eye-rolling and lacking in any type of originality, but this was one of the first movies to do such a thing so if anything, it should be at least applauded or booed. Either way, it’s one of the first of it’s kind and it’s ending, as depressing and as sad it may be, was slightly different for it’s time. However, as time went on, as we all know, things changed and so did the sappy romances between two teenagers. Boo!

Consensus: Everything and anything that happens in Love Story is obvious, predictable, and conventional, almost to the point of where you can even start a drinking game while watching it, however, the leads chemistry/performances make-up for the rest of the flick and at least make the romance more believable, rather than contrived, as we see more of nowadays. Oh yeah, and that quote is fuckin’ stupid.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Somehow, this is influential to romantic-drama filmmakers.
Somehow, this is influential to romantic-drama filmmakers.


  1. One of the most overrated films ever. It’s such a hokey romantic film. There’s too many things about it that seems unreal and that quote… what a load of bullshit.

  2. I loathe this film. With a passion. Hated it when I watched it at 8, hated it on rewatch at 17, hated it when I saw it last summer at 19. I do agree with you that maybe because many of its tricks have now become cinematic staples, it has lost most of its originality and emotional outreach.

    • If you just take into context when it was made, then I think it’s a bit better than you’d imagine. Then again, I’m starting to re-think my sexuality right about now.

  3. I can’t believe I still have not seen this, I think my mother loved this film. I might give it a watch one of these days, I think it’s on Netflix Streaming.

  4. I’ve always hated this film! In fact, I think this is where my utter loathing of schmaltzy, romantic movies stems from because Love Story was one of the first of that type that I saw in a theater. I was only 12 when it came out and I recognized it as a load of maudlin BS then and still do.

    That said, it does have great appeal to those with a romantic nature, and I won’t condemn anyone for liking it. 🙂 It was HUGELY popular when it came out, btw. HUGELY. I remember that every single brunette I knew started parting her hair in the middle and wearing knit caps like Ali MacGraw did in the film. LOL

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