Two words: “Love Story “
Now I realize there are tons of people “of a certain age” who adore this movie and that it was nominated for a bunch of Oscars, but clearly the esteemed members of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences were STONED OUT OF THEIR MINDS at the time. It was 1970, after all.
One of our cable channels has been running this allegedly “classic” film the past couple days, and since I’d only ever seen bits and pieces of it before (and there was literally nothing else on), I decided to watch it last night. I was aware of its reputation as a manipulative tear-jerker with cheesy dialogue, but I also knew it was on of the film industry’s first real blockbusters…so surely it was worth seeing, right? NOT!
Oh. My. God. was is this movie ever bad.
Turns out the cheesy dialogue was the least of its problems. The story was riddled with holes and there was absolutely no discernable chemistry between the leads…most likely due to the fact that Ali McGraw clanked her way through the movie like a fembot. She was literally painful to watch.
So imagine my shock when…out of morbid curiosity…I surfed by The Internet Movie Database and learned that Ali McGraw had been nominated for the Best Actress Oscar that year. I can’t even imagine the amount of weed behind that decision.
In the end, “Love Story” won just a single Academy Award, for Best Music, Original Score. But the film, and Ali I should have stayed in modeling McGraw won Golden Globes in numerous categories, an incident that surely sealed the Golden Globes’ fate as the developmentally disabled step-child of Oscar.
The most redeeming thing about “Love Story” is the rather interesting trivia attached to it. Screenwriter Erich Segal knew college roommates Al Gore and Tommy Lee Jones while they were at Harvard and allegedly based Ryan O’Neal’s character on bits of both of them. Jones also appears in a minor role in the film. Beau Bridges, Michael York, Michael Douglas, Jon Voight, Michael Sarrazin and Peter Fonda all turned down the part of Oliver, probably because they had some inkling that playing opposite Ali McGraw would be a career-killer. (Who can name more than one other film that Ryan O’Neal starred in?)
But best of all, the movie was the last one ever filmed in the famed Harvard Yard …and according to the aforementioned IMDB, incoming Harvard students are traditionally shown a screening of the film as part of their freshman orientation, during which they indulge in ritualized mass heckling.
Now THAT’s the way to watch “Love Story”!