Customer Reviews: The Way We Were (Special Edition)
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on May 23, 2005
As stated many times before, THE WAY WE WERE is one of only a handful of romantic blockbusters to actually feature an intelligent script and complex characters. Writer Arthur Luarents' based his screenplay (and subsequent novel) on girl he knew in college, who fought for liberal (and sometimes communist) causes. Three decades after it's release, THE WAY WE WERE remains one of the few cinematic depictions of the Red Scare that swept America in the forties and fifties; the backdrop of which lends the surrounding love story greater potency and depth. The film was a surprise box office smash when originally released, and became the fifth-highest grossing film of 1973 and was instantly embraced as a classic.

Katie Morosky is a character that Barbra Streisand born play, and she delivers on all accounts. Fierce and determined, yet vulnerable and self-conscious, Katie is a tricky character and Streisand inhabits her so deeply that she seems nothing less than completely believable. Justifiably nominated for a Best Actress Oscar, she inexplicably lost to Glenda Jackson's shrill performance in the barely remembered A TOUCH OF CLASS. This was clearly a major blunder on the side of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Robert Redford, who had actually turned down the role twice before director and friend Sydney Pollack talked him into taking the part, displays some of the best reflective acting ever seen on the big screen and effectively brings forth the dark side of being stereotyped as the All-American golden boy (although Redford did not receive an Oscar nod for playing Hubbell in this film, he was nominated for Best Actor that same year for his light comedic performance in THE STING).

THE WAY WE WERE is different from most romances in that it is not death, feuding families, or any other societal phenomena that directly tear the couple apart. Katie and Hubbell are simply passionate individuals with highly volatile, and contrasting, ideologies; the conflict of which is expressed in several brilliantly written and acted scenes that shimmer with the type of intelligence and honesty that is rarely seen in cinema today. The film's enduring popular success with the mass audience may very well be due to the magnetic chemistry between Streisand and Redford, the gorgeous cinematography, and the strong directorial hand supplied by Pollack. However, it is the complexity of the romance with politics and the strong characterizations by both leads that continues to make THE WAY WE WERE the best love story for adults.

About the DVD: The picture quality is very good, quite possibly the best the film has ever looked. You must remember that movie has always had a stylistically hazy look. The sound quality is also vastly improved. Pollack's commentary track is interesting, but the 60-minute documentary is the best extra on the disc. Featuring insightful interviews from Pollack, Streisand, and Laurents (as well as composer Marvin Hamlisch and lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman) the documentary is well-produced and entertaining, and it was great to finally see those much-debated deleted scenes.
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on October 22, 2005
I want to strangle Hubbell when he says this final line at the end! But my rage is just an indication of how much I adore this movie!

I think people who giving a low rating to the film because of the incorrect portrayal of the communist movement, and whatever, are missing the mark of this movie entirely. The Way We Were is a love story, first and foremost. Communism is just a circumstance that complicates the love story. It is NOT in my opinion, the central theme of the movie.

That being said, TWWW is a classic story of "love isn't enough." I think Katie and Hubbell love each other deeply, but they are such different people. She wants him to be everything that she believes he is. (Whether he is or isn't those things is debatable.) But he is content living a safe, yuppy life. He needs a girl who can just roll with that lifestyle, hence, he ends up with the nameless girl at the end of the film. She represents the safe type of girl that is pretty enough to keep Hubbell interested and safe enough to allow him to live his yuppy life.

It's clear in the scene at the end that the love between them is still strong. You can feel the heat of that final embrace through the screen! I could go on and on about why this movie is one of the greatest, but I can't. See this film.
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on May 21, 2003
The Way We Were still makes me cry nearly 30 years after seeing it for the first time. The movie basically explores the cliche "opposites attract" as Golden Boy Hubble (Redford) and Communist Sympathizer Katie (Streisand) fall deeply in love and marry. But can their passion survive their differences? Ah, that's the story... The movie takes place in the 40's and 50's with beautiful sets and wonderful costumes.
If you have never seen The Way We Were and you enjoy romance, melodrama, and/or historical drama, then you should buy or rent it. (The weepiness may make this a tough sell for some men and women who dislike this genre.) If you have seen The Way We Were, then you should still rent or buy the DVD. The extra features are outstanding. Sydney Pollack's (the director) commentary is insightful and informative. He talks about everything from camera angles to Redford's hesitance about doing the part. The documentary is also beautiful and a "must see" for The Way We Were groupies.
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on December 29, 1999
Finally! THE WAY WE WERE in widescreen! I think it really makes a difference. I've only seen pan and scan versions on video. It is especially noticeable in the opening credits where names/credits appear on one side of the screen and action takes place on the other side. For the first time we get to see Katie at her typewriter and Katie talking to her teacher.
The rest of the dvd is done just as well. The picture and sound are pristine. The menu screens are classy and easy to use. The bonus trailers from FOR PETE'S SAKE and Streisand's later films are fun to see.
The hour-long documentary featuring interviews with Sydney Pollack and Streisand is very revealing. Pollack seems humble and grateful about the film. Streisand is relaxed and beautiful - again, reflective and humble about the experience as Pollack is. There is even a segment with Marvin Hamlisch on piano playing the different versions of THE WAY WE WERE theme. And Alan & Marilyn Bergman are a hilarious couple!
Sydney Pollack's comments on the extra audio channel are interesting as well. I haven't gotten through the whole movie yet, but so far so good!
The dvd is definitely a must-have for Streisand fans. But even fans of this classic romance will find much to like about the dvd as well.
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on October 15, 2002
"The Way We Were" is about two people who cannot surrender their respective way of looking at the world and is about America in the mid-20th century. Either story is captivating and makes for fine viewing. Seeing "The Way We Were" for the theme song alone is worth it.
Streisand plays a Jewish woman with deep convictions, who is ridiculed by many for these convictions. Whatever she believes in, she believes in it deeply and fights for it. She will not hold back in speaking her mind. Redford plays the All-American boy. He believes in having fun and is a bit of a cynic in his beliefs about the individual being able to change the big picture. Regardless of their differences, the two fall in love in New York, but will fight for their particular ideologies.
The love story between the two is well done. The audience sees that they care for each other, but that their differences will never let them find true happiness.
The view of Americana starts from their college days before WWII and carries until well after the war. The most in depth view comes from the McCarthy hearings, and more specifically, we see the fight for the Hollywood Ten. This is an interesting piece of history.
I would recommend seeing this movie.
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VINE VOICEon February 15, 2006
Katie Morosky (Barbra Streisand) and Hubbell Gardner are students at Cornell. And there their similarities end. Hubbell was a golden boy to which everything came easy and he always took the easy road. Katie had to work at everything and therefore, she took the hard road looking for every cause to fight for. Katie and Hubbell had one class together creative writing. Katie wanted to be a journalist and she prized this class but is devastated when it's Hubbell's story that the professor praises. What is worse is the story is good.

Both graduate and go their separate ways. Katie becomes a writer for a radio show and Hubbell enlists in the Navy. One night Katie is at a nightclub with her boss and who is there (asleep on a barstool), Hubbell. Katie takes him home and thus begins their relationship. But as they had different backgrounds neither is quite sure what that relationship is. Despite their differences they get married. Hubbell's book is optioned by a studio and they are off to Hollywood.

Everything is going fine. They know what lines not to cross and stay away from them. That is until communism hearing become a little too real. Katie comes to the rally of the Hollywood victims of the hearing but Hubbell wants to stay clear. This starts the end of their marriage. They know that they love each other but cannot be with each other and end it amicably.

Years later they meet. Both have remarried but their reunion tells you that each is the other's true love.

This is considered to be one of the great romances of all time. I definitely agree with this! Streisand is the perfect choice for Katie (the character in the book was inspired by her) and Redford is the perfect choice for Hubbell. They exuded a chemistry that neither has equaled in future films.

This film is well made from every aspect. The cinematography adds feeling to the scenes. The art direction and costumes evoke the eras involved. And Marvin Hamlisch's Oscar winning score is perfection.

If you ever had someone that you loved but lost, this is the perfect film. Plus according to every TV show. This is the movie you must watch after a breakup!

DVD EXTRAS: Making of Documentary - Looking Back: A one hour documentary on the making of the film with Streisand, writer Arthur Laurents, director Sydney Pollack
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on June 5, 2004
I've seen this movie many, many times. I can be brought to tears by watching JUST the last scene. This movie is a true visceral experience.
Characters that could have been stereotyped are incredibly complex and true. And that's a big part of the story. We go through life and label people, yet we just don't know what might truly lie beneath.
Katie and Hubble see what lies beneath. How we don't know. Two soul mates who come into each other's lives but cannot stay. I know all of this sounds sentimental but this is a truly sentimental favorite.
Watch this movie!!
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When Carrie and the girls waxed enthusiastically about "The Way We Were" in an episode of HBO's "Sex in the City", I realized what a touchstone this movie has become for many who saw it as the ultimate opposites-attract romance. Over thirty years have elapsed since its initial release, and it's easy to forget what a massive challenge director Sydney Pollack had in making this movie. Primarily he had to harness the elephantine personality of Barbra Streisand, then the most powerful female movie star, within a period movie that was designed to provide an incisive look at the McCarthy-era witch hunts. Pollack does an exceptional job in delineating the somewhat preposterous love story, and he guides Streisand to one of her most subtle and touching performances, still her best onscreen work. She was also lucky to have veteran screenwriter Arthur Laurents write such a strong, multi-dimensional character in Katie Morosky. It's quite a journey from young Communist college radical in the late thirties to glamorous Hollywood wife in the early fifties, but Streisand seems fully committed in conveying her character's idealism and blind idolatry. Matching her every step of the way is Robert Redford, who was then at the peak of his matinee idol popularity as well. He smartly underplays the lionized Hubbell Gardiner, fleshing out a character that could have remained a cipher but instead seems to understand his own limitations. It's interesting how all the other characters fade completely in the background as a result of the mega-wattage generated by the star coupling.

In essence, the movie consists of three distinct parts: the college years when they first make impressions on each other, the WWII years when they meet again and start an unlikely romance, and the Hollywood years when they are married and get mired in the studio system. The first two parts are excellent and filled with memorable moments. I particularly like the intimate café scene where Hubbell announces to Katie that his article has just been published and later on when she cajoles him to stay for dinner and rattles on in typical Streisand rat-a-tat fashion about how she spent all her ration stamps on steaks and baked potatoes. Her look of realized humiliation afterward is priceless. She also handles her showcase scenes well, for instance, at the radio station when Hubbell concedes that the relationship is impossible to continue and later when Katie begs Hubbell to come over to help her sleep. I realize I was being manipulated by only-in-Hollywood, Oscar-baiting gesticulations, but the scenes somehow work regardless.

When the story moves to Hollywood, the movie gets a bit more problematic. The star-crossed couple is challenged by the revelation to Hubbell's studio that Katie was a former Communist, which in turn makes Hubbell, now a rising screenwriter, a target for blacklisting. What should have been the most interesting part of the film becomes muddled as to what exactly is happening to cause their inevitable break-up. Ironically though, the film's most powerful scene is in this section, the train station confrontation between Katie and Hubbell over people and their principles. But bottom line, there is no narrative connection between the Hollywood blacklist and their separation, which just seems odd given the build-up of the story to that point. I am not certain whether reinstating several crucial scenes (cut at the last minute by Pollack) would have helped after seeing some of them in the extensive and insightful documentary included as part of the DVD package, "The Way We Were: A Look Back". I have to agree with Pollack (and disagree with Streisand) that the deleted scenes don't really fit in with the pacing and emotionalism during this part of the movie even though they do provide added context. Of course the coda outside the Plaza Hotel is still classic, mainly due to the brevity of dialogue, the swooning Marvin Hamlisch music and the tear-jerking stares and gestures.

Despite its narrative disconnect in the last third, I still love this movie, and it does deserve its place among the great screen romances. The evocative music along with the overplayed title tune certainly adds to its impact. It's just that it doesn't belong in a sub-category of films that deal seriously with the Communist red scare. The DVD transfer is good though not exceptional, and for diehard fans of the movie, the well done documentary seems essential.
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on January 11, 2000
The Way We Were on DVD is a must for any Streisand fan. The quality is excellent, allowing the viewer to watch the film over and over, without worry about tape damage. The colors and the images are sharp, and the widescreen format let's fans see everything in the frame. But the real prize is hearing the "hmmm-hmmmm...", opening to the title song, that's remastered digitally, so it sounds like Barbra is in the room singing it! The inclusion of the documentary is another plus! Including interviews with Barbra, Sydney Pollack, Arthur Laurents,the Bergmens and Hamlish. The documentary also includes deleted scenes from the movie, so one can finally figure out the real reason Katie and Hubbell break-up! You won't be sorry with this investment!
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With stars of the magnitude of Redford and Streisand, why doesn't this movie work as well as it should? Or maybe the question is "Why doesn't it work today, forty years on?" I think the problem is the writing, especially for Streisand's part, Katie Morosky. Katie is supposed to be seriously intellectually and politically engaged, a woman of principle, who is attracted to, but is very different from, the pragmatic, but not cynical, Gentile Hubbell Gardner (Redford). The differences between them are always a source of trouble in their relationship, but the trouble comes to a head when Hubbell shows himself willing to tone down the screenplay based on his novel in order to not run afoul of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1947. By this time, Katie and Hubbell have been together for ten years, and married for two or three, and Katie is pregnant with their child. For all that, Hubbell's willingness to give in to the demands of the craven director George Bissinger (Patrick O'Neal) is the last straw, and they separate, though we are meant to believe that on some level their love is undiminished. It's a potentially powerful scenario, but it's undermined by having Streisand's activist -- and basically, she's always for peace -- be no more than a sloganeer, a kind of caricature of a woman who gets up in public and spouts slogans and thus causes herself and her loved ones embarrassment. The earlier part of the movie makes clear that Katie is supposed to be smart, but her part is not written smart, and we're supposed to take her simplicities as evidence of her commitment and good heart without being given any chance to see the intelligence that underwrites her political passion. Consequently, she comes across as only an embarrassment to Hubbell's rich friends, whereas we are meant, I believe, to see that she has the moral high ground and that the embarrassment reflects poorly on them, not on Katie. Could Streisand have credibly played an intelligent Katie with a better script? Absolutely.

The fact that Katie is so weakly written makes Hubbell appear more attractive and less conflicted than he should be, and if that had not been the case, then the sub-plot of Katie's neediness, her sense of her own unattractiveness compared to the golden-boy beauty of Hubbell, would have been much sharper and more poignant. Streisand's finest moments in the movie are when she faces Hubbell with her belief in her unattractiveness and her need for him -- moments that have nothing to do with politics -- and that show how effective an actress Streisand can be. On the whole, though, Redford doesn't have anything to play against, and as a result his characterization in a potentially interesting conflict seems rather shallow. And even more damagingly, the whole discussion and dramatization of the stakes at the HUAC hearings -- which should be part of the climax of the movie's public (as opposed to private) theme -- are murkily handled and again show us Katie in her role as sloganeer rather than intelligent protestor.

In a special feature accompanying my DVD, the director Sidney Pollack and Streisand discuss the movie. Redford is absent, and given that he is a serious thinker on political matters, one can't help feeling that he couldn't have been too happy with the simplicities and sentimentalities that this movie trades in. Pollack doesn't say much about the script, though he talks about how he liked the scenario. Fair enough -- as a scenario, it had potential. But he also talks of how difficult it was to persuade Redford to take the part, and one wonders if even then Redford saw problems. (Apparently Ryan O'Neal was the next man in line, if Redford had decided not to do it.) As far as acting is concerned, Redford does a professional job, and the movie was a great success -- but that was because of its romantic themes, not its trivialized political ones. I would call it an opportunity missed.
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