Love means never having to say you are sorry. This line from Arthur Hiller’s (See No Evil, Hear No Evil, The Babe) hugely popular film from 1970 went on to become as famous as the film itself. It is a simple story of young love and tragedy. In all honesty it is nothing fantastic, but after watching it I could understand why it was so beloved.
They say that opposites attract and when it comes to Oliver Barrett IV (Ryan O’Neal – from television’s Bones) and Jennifer Cavilleri (Ali MacGraw – The Getaway, Convoy) they couldn’t be more right. Oliver is from a wealthy family and is attending Harvard Law School. Jennifer is a working class music student. Once they meet the chemistry between the two is undeniable. The two young people fall in love and marry. This is despite the protests from their families. Especially against the union is Oliver’s father (Ray Milland – Dial M for Murder, Escape to Witch Mountain), who threatens to disown his son. Once the two go ahead and get married Oliver’s father does cut him out of his life.
Without the Barrett money Oliver and Jennifer struggle to pay his way through Harvard. To help out, Jennifer takes a job as a teacher in a private school. Once he graduates, Oliver is hired to work at a prestigious New York law firm. Now that they are financially stable Oliver and Jennifer decide to try to have a child.
When the two young people have trouble conceiving they decide to go see a specialist. After a barrage of test the results they get back are shocking. The doctor tells Oliver that Jennifer is seriously ill and will die soon. He also advises Oliver not to tell his wife of her condition. The instructions are to live life as normally as possible in the time they have left together.
Despite its dubious quality, Love Story was nominated seven times for Academy Awards. The only win was for Best Score (Francis Lai). It has been listed by the prestigious American Film Institute as the 9th greatest love story film. If the term existed back then this weepy film would have been categorized as a chick flick for sure.
Part of the reason for the success is the simplicity of the story and the way it is told. It is basically a boy meets girl and they fall in love story. There is also the rich boy, poor girl aspect thrown in for good measure. The straightforward manner of the story allows you to get involved in what is happening. As they fall in love you fall in love with them as a couple and are happy when they are happy and devastated when they are unhappy. All the buttons are hit in order to manipulate your emotions. You, and most people, will most probably weep while watching Love Story. You cannot really get upset with the emotional manipulation as the film never tries to hide it.
Another thing the film has going for it is the onscreen chemistry between O’Neal and MacGraw. Both are quite attractive and make a lovely couple. And they both turn in decent performances.
-Love Story: A Classic Remembered
-Original Theatrical Trailer