AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Way We Were
Director: Sydney Pollack (Dir)
Release Date:   Oct 1973
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 17 Oct 1973; Los Angeles opening: 24 Oct 1973
Production Date:   mid-Sep--early Dec 1972
Duration (in mins):   117-118
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Cast:   Barbra Streisand (Katie [Morosky])  
    Robert Redford (Hubbell [Gardiner])  
    Bradford Dillman (J. J.)  
  Introducing Lois Chiles (Carol Ann)  
    Patrick O'Neal (George Bissinger)  
    Viveca Lindfors (Paula Reisner)  
    Allyn Ann McLerie (Rhea Edwards)  
    Murray Hamilton (Brooks Carpenter)  
    Herb Edelman (Bill Verso)  
    Diana Ewing (Vicki Bissinger)  
    Sally Kirkland (Pony Dunbar)  
    Marcia Mae Jones (Peggy Vanderbilt)  
    Don Keefer (Actor)  
    George Gaynes (El Morocco captain)  
    Eric Boles (Army corporal)  
    Barbara Peterson (Ashe blonde)  
    Roy Jenson (Army captain)  
    Brendan Kelly (Rally speaker)  
    James Woods (Frankie McVeigh)  
    Connie Forslund (Jenny)  
    Robert Gerringer (Dr. Short)  
    Susie Blakely (Judianne)  
    Ed Power (Airforce)  
    Suzanne Zenor (Dumb blonde)  
    Dan Seymour (Guest)  
    Marvin Hamlisch (Guest at screening)  

Summary: One night during World War II, Jewish radio show director Katie Morosky recognizes the handsome naval officer asleep at a Manhattan bar as Hubbell Gardiner, with whom she attended college in the mid-1930s. Touching his face, Katie remembers their first attraction: A determined political activist and president of the Young Communist League, Katie gives a moving speech at a peace rally, but the rally turns sour when several students mock her sincerity with a sign reading “Any Peace but Katie’s Piece.” Angered and unable to formulate a humorous retort, Katie calls the onlookers fascists. Weeks later, Katie is surprised when her literature professor chooses to read the short story of star athlete Hubbell instead of her own. Although Katie had dismissed Hubbell as a spoiled, white Anglo-Saxon protestant, she is so discouraged by his writing talent that she throws her own story away, while secretly pining for him. Weeks later, Katie spots Hubbell at an outdoor café and crosses the street to avoid him, but affable Hubbell insists that the “puritan” celebrate the sale of his story with a beer. Unable to make small talk, Katie asks Hubbell who he really is under the nonchalant reserve. Despite their differences, Katie toasts to Hubbell’s yet-to-be-written first novel. Later in the year, Katie is working at the school dance with fellow activist Frankie McVeigh when Hubbell leaves his girl friend Carol Ann to dance a slow song with Katie, their first and only romantic encounter before graduating in 1937. Back in the present, Hubbell is startled to see Katie and, in his drunkenness, follows her home, where he collapses. Hoping for a romantic turn of events, Katie undresses and climbs into bed with Hubbell, who has sex with her without really being conscious of the act, then leaves abruptly the next morning. A week later, Hubbell, unable to find a hotel room, accepts Katie’s offer to stay at her apartment, where she reveals she has a copy of his first novel. Although embarrassed at its lack of success, Hubbell is eager to hear Katie’s opinion. Katie suggests that while the writing is good, his characters are too distant and, remembering a line from his college short story, asks Hubbell if life continues to be as easy as “ice cream” for him. Charmed by her frankness, Hubbell kisses Katie and a romantic love affair ensues. The couple is at ease alone, but at a party hosted by Hubbell’s college friend J. J., Katie is aggravated by the uptown crowd’s vacuous humor and jealous of Carol Ann, who is now J. J.’s girl friend. Months later, Hubbell shows the first eight chapters of his novel to Katie, who is overjoyed by his work. Knowing that Katie has little respect for Hollywood, Hubbell tells Carol Ann his plan to sell the book’s movie rights, knowing that she will respond with enthusiasm. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt suddenly dies in 1945, Katie, an ardent fan of his liberal policies, is overwrought with grief and seeks solace with Hubbell. Taking her to J. J.’s, Hubbell is humiliated when Katie refuses to tolerate the crowd’s insulting jokes about Eleanor Roosevelt. After vehemently castigating the crowd, Katie storms out, despite Hubbell’s decision to remain. She apologizes to Hubbell later for her tantrum and jokes that she will become more tolerant after taking classes in protestant cooking, but Hubbell decides they cannot reconcile their differences and leaves her. Days later, when a sleepless Katie begs Hubbell speak with her as a friend, he goes to her apartment and gives her sleeping pills and alcohol. Katie then forces Hubbell to admit that she is not the right “style” for him nor does she belong to his class. Enticed by Katie’s ferocious drive for both of them to achieve their best, Hubbell reunites with her. The couple marries and moves to Hollywood to make a film adaptation of Hubbell’s novel, financed in part by J. J., who is the film’s producer. While Katie works as a script reader and maintains their home, Hubbell and J. J. secure well-known director George Bissinger to make the picture. Hubbell and Katie easily fit into the social scene, including parties at Bissinger’s mansion attended by J. J., Carol Ann, George’s wife Vicki, agent Rhea Edwards and Paula Reisner, a political émigré who is disturbed by the growing anti-Communist sentiment in Hollywood. Tensions are rising in the film community as more people testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, which are heard on regular radio broadcasts. Hubbell selfishly resists taking a stand on the issue for fear that any political alliance will hurt his career, while Katie grows more upset by the discrimination. When the now pregnant Katie and others discover a government surveillance microphone hidden in Bissinger’s home, she quickly organizes a group to go to Washington D.C. to challenge the committee on the basis of First Amendment rights. Unable to convince his wife to remain in Hollywood, Hubbell accompanies her to Washington D.C. Outside the hearings, Katie loudly defends the Hollywood Ten, ten Hollywood writers and directors who, after refusing to name friends as Communist sympathizers, were blacklisted from work. When someone in the crowd calls her a “commie bitch,” Hubbell starts a fistfight, prompting the surrounding police to usher them away from the throngs of reporters and protestors. Once alone, Hubbell vehemently argues that Katie’s protests are pointless. Days later, desperate to keep some control of his novel, Hubbell agrees to make any cuts Bissinger requires to the screenplay. Defeated by his own compromise and feeling ostracized by his wife’s actions, Hubbell has an affair with Carol Ann, who is leaving J. J. and returning to New York. After a screening of the latest cut of Hubbell’s film, Katie confronts Hubbell about compromising the novel’s integrity and his affair with Carol Ann. Hubbell can only reply that their problems are deeper than the affair. Although J. J. suggests that, unlike the loss of Carol Ann, losing Katie would be something of consequence, Hubbell is unmoved. Returning home one evening, Hubbell claims that he had no ambition to finish his first novel or write another, and tells Katie that those were her dreams, not his. Finally realizing their differences are irreconcilable, Katie asks that Hubbell to remain with her only until the baby is born. Years later in Manhattan, the now remarried Katie is protesting the nuclear bomb, when she sees Hubbell with his new, ashe blonde wife. After cordial introductions are made, Katie learns that Hubbell is now an uninspired television writer. Katie invites Hubbell to her home to meet her new husband and see their daughter Rachel, but, knowing that a reunion is impossible, they sadly embrace and depart. 

Production Company: Rastar Productions, Inc.  
  Columbia Pictures  
Production Text: A Ray Stark-Sydney Pollack Production
Distribution Company: Columbia Pictures  
Director: Sydney Pollack (Dir)
  Howard Koch Jr. (Asst dir)
  Mike Britton (Asst dir)
  Jerry Ziesmer (2d asst dir)
Producer: Ray Stark (Prod)
  Richard Roth (Assoc prod)
Writer: Arthur Laurents (Wrt)
Photography: Harry Stradling, Jr. (Dir of photog)
  Ralph Gerling (Cam)
  Dick Minardus (Cam)
  Bob Spence (Cam)
  Cliff Hutchinson (Elec)
  Bob Wooten (Elec)
  Herb Nift (Elec)
  Dick Singer (Elec)
  Ray Marshall (Elec)
  Chuck Renaud (Grip)
  Jimmy Dean (Grip)
  Carl Manoogian (Grip)
  Glenn Maschmeyer (Grip)
  Bill Tharp (Grip)
  Frank Shugrue (Stills)
Art Direction: Stephen Grimes (Prod des)
Film Editor: Margaret Booth (Supv film ed)
  John F. Burnett (Film ed)
Set Decoration: William Kiernan (Set dec)
  Richard M. Rubin (Props)
  George Luxenberg (Props)
  Jack Lannarelli (Props)
  Carl Hansen (Swing gang)
  George Tours (Swing gang)
  Bob Frazier (Swing gang)
  Richie Kent (Swing gang)
  Bud Pine (Const coord)
Costumes: Dorothy Jeakins (Cost des)
  Moss Mabry (Cost des)
  Richard Bruno (Cost)
  Bernie Pollack (Cost)
  Marie Osbourne (Cost)
  Shirley Strahm (Cost)
Music: Marvin Hamlisch (Mus)
  Ken Runyon (Mus ed)
Sound: Jack Solomon (Sd)
  Al Yaylian (Sd)
  Bud Wolfe (Sd)
  Kay Rose (Sd eff)
  Richard Portman (Re-rec)
Special Effects: Phill Norman (Titles)
Dance: Grover Dale (Choreog)
Make Up: Donald Cash Jr. (Makeup)
  Gary Liddiard (Makeup)
  Ben Lane (Makeup)
  Kaye Pownall (Hairstyles)
Production Misc: Russ Saunders (Unit prod mgr)
  Betty Crosby (Scr supv)
  Carol Shapiro (Unit pub)
  Ron Reiner (Transportation)
  Kay Watson (Transportation)
  Bill Meredith (Transportation)
  Tino Morris (Transportation)
  Ken Hardie (Craft service)
  Sheila Barnes (Secy to dir)
  Vince Martinez (Loc auditor)
  Charles Geiger (Loc mgr)
MPAA Rating: PG
Country: United States
Language: English

Music:
Songs: "The Way We Were," music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Marilyn Bergman and Alan Bergman, sung by Barbra Streisand.
Composer: Alan Bergman
  Marilyn Bergman
  Marvin Hamlisch
Source Text: Based on the novel The Way We Were by Arthur Laurents (New York, 1972).
Authors: Arthur Laurents

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Rastar Productions, Inc. 16/10/1973 dd/mm/yyyy LP42789

Physical Properties: Sd:
  col: Eastman Color
  Widescreen/ratio: Panavision

 
Genre: Drama
 
Subjects (Major): Class distinction
  Disillusionment
  Marriage
  Motion picture screenwriters
  Political activists
  Romance
 
Subjects (Minor): Blacklist (Hollywood)
  College students
  Communists
  Drunkenness
  Fights
  Friendship
  Hollywood (CA)
  Infidelity
  Jews
  Motion picture directors
  New York City
  Officers (Military)
  Pregnancy
  Radio programs
  United States. Congress--House Committee on Un-American Activities
  Wire-tapping

Note: According to a 7 Jun 1972 HR news item, producer Ray Stark, who previously had signed Sydney Pollack to direct The Way We Were , had not yet chosen a male lead, denying an earlier HR report that Robert Redford had been cast. On 12 Jun 1972, HR then reported that Redford had agreed to star in the picture. According to an interview with screenwriter Arthur Laurents in “Looking Back," a "Making of" documentary on the 30th anniversary special edition DVD release of the film, Laurents wrote the screenplay specifically for Barbra Streisand, basing the script on a Jewish girl he knew in high school. The 15 Oct 1973 New Yorker review mentioned that Alvin Sargent was among a number of uncredited writers who worked on the film, and modern sources also add Dalton Trumbo, Francis Ford Coppola and David Rayfiel as additional writers. A biography of Streisand stated that, in all, twelve additional writers were brought on to rewrite the script, then Laurents was rehired to finish the project.
       Pollack noted in his interview on the DVD documentary that although Ryan O’Neal was considered for the lead, he was determined to have Redford, who was at first reluctant to take the role, which he thought was weak. The Way We Were was shot on location in Manhattan, upstate New York, Los Angeles and, according to an 11 Oct 1972 DV article, at the Burbank Studios in Burbank, CA. A 6 Sep 1972 Var article noted that the location for the college scenes was originally Williams College, but script delays necessitated a change in venue to Union College in Schenectady, NY. Although Lois Chiles’s onscreen credit reads: "Introducing," she made her debut in the 1973 film Together for Days , which was shot in 1971. A modern source adds Andrea True, Dorian Cusick, Robert Dahdah, Beverly Goodman, Don Koll and Cornelia Sharpe to the cast.
       The DVD included as added content some scenes cut from the released print, including several political scenes that Streisand, in her interview, stated were vital to the film’s plot. Among those scenes was a sequence in which “Katie” cries as she listens to a young college student who is being ridiculed by other students because of her outspoken political views on justice. In another scene, Katie suggests that if she informed to the House Committee on Un-American Activities, Hubbell would be able to secure work. Unable to go against her political convictions, she realizes that they might have to divorce.
       The Way We Were was the first studio film to dramatize events surrounding the Hollywood Blacklist in the late 1940s, including the much publicized trip to Washington, D.C. of prominent members of the Hollywood community in support of the "Hollywood Ten." For more information on the Hollywood Ten and the Blacklist, please consult the entry above for the 1947 RKO production Crossfire . Actress Viveca Lindfors, who portrayed "Paula Reisner," was herself blacklisted by the Hollywood studios for a number of years, as was screenwriter Laurents. The film includes a number of party scenes, among them is a notable one that featured a Marx Bros.-themed costume party in Hollywood, in which Streisand is dressed as “Harpo” while most of the others are dressed as “Groucho.”
       The teaming of popular stars Streisand and Redford, as well as the film’s bittersweet romance, led to The Way We Were becoming one of the top box office films of the year. According to an 8 Jan 1974 HR article, the film grossed over $8.5 million during the 1973 Christmas season, a very high total for the era. A 12 Apr 1974 HR article added that foreign sales had at that point had grossed over $1 million.
       The Way We Were received Academy Award nominations for Best Actress (Streisand), Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design. Composer Marvin Hamlisch, who appeared briefly in the film in one of the party scenes, won an Oscar for Music (Original Dramatic Score) as well as for his collaboration with Marilyn and Allen Bergman on the Best Song winner, "The Way We Were.” The song became Streisand’s first number one hit, while the soundtrack became a gold album for its record sales. Hamlisch also won an Oscar the same year for his adapted score for The Sting (see above), making him the first person to win three Academy Awards in the same year. According to a Mar 1997 Esquire article, Streisand and Redford were considering making a sequel, but that film was never produced. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   29 Oct 1973   p. 4636.
Daily Variety   16 Nov 1971.   
Daily Variety   4 Oct 1972.   
Daily Variety   11 Oct 1972.   
Daily Variety   5 Jan 1973.   
Esquire   Jan 1974.   
Esquire   Mar 1997.   
Hollywood Reporter   7 Jun 1972.   
Hollywood Reporter   12 Jun 1972.   
Hollywood Reporter   22 Sep 1972   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   1 Dec 1972   p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter   3 Oct 1973   p. 3, 6.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Jan 1974.   
Hollywood Reporter   12 Apr 1974.   
Los Angeles Herald Examiner   25 Oct 1973.   
Los Angeles Times   24 Oct 1973   Section IV, p. 1, 10.
New York Times   18 Oct 1973   p. 68.
New Yorker   15 Oct 1973.   
Newsweek   22 Oct 1973.   
Playboy   Dec 1973.   
Playboy   Jan 2006.   
Time   29 Oct 1973.   
Variety   6 Sep 1972.   
Variety   26 Sep 1973   p. 18.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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