LOVE STORY —like a good chunk of the U.S. population I saw this when it infected the country in 1970, becoming the years biggest hit. At fifteen, with equal parts patience and exasperation, I could see that the acting from Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw wasn’t going to knock O’Toole or Hepburn off their thrones, understood that the dialogue was banal, and didn’t give a burp about the dumb book that showed up to help promote it (good for holding down napkins, it sold 21,000,000 copies). Still, I thought Francis Lai’s music score was okay, Ray Milland’s grouchy dad was well-played, and the hockey scenes were passable.
Cheez-us!–how–why– did this awful movie capture us? The ridiculously unconvincing profanity, the unbearable smugness of the leading lady, that wimpy shallowness from the leading man, that tripe “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Yechh!
In a year that saw an extraordinary number of movies that pushed boundaries, this seemed, like the 2nd biggest hit, Airport, as a desperate gasp for air from one generation trying to throttle the next. I’m as much of a sap for doomed romance as the next ape, (as in Been There) but this is pushing it. The $2,200,000 product raked in $106,000,000 coast to coast and another $30,000,000 internationally (probably not a hit in Vietnam, then busy receiving the backhand of our kissypoo daydreams).
With John Marley and Tommy Lee Jones in his debut at 24.
Guilty responsible for the script and book, Erich Segal said he based O’Neal’s character partly on Jones, partly on Jones’ Harvard room-mate, Al Gore. Laugh or cry?
It won an Oscar for the Score–a sin, considering Jerry Goldsmith’s work on Patton–and was up for Best Picture, Director (Arthur Hiller), Actor (O’Neal), Actress (MacGraw), Script, Supporting Actor (Marley). Ponder those nominations over 102 minutes while you consider gas or pills.