By: Henry J. Fromage (Four Beers) –
In 1970 Erich Segal handed over a script to Paramount Pictures that was so full of commercial appeal that they insisted he also submit it as a novel first while they were filming it. That novel became the biggest bestseller of the year, and the ensuing film version of the novel version of the script became a bona fide phenomenon, topping the box office (and, adjusted for inflation, still one of the top 40 grossers of all time) and getting seven Oscar nominations. Top that, Gravity!
It’d be a rather short book
Love Story is about preppie, daddy-issue consumed Harvard Law rich boy Oliver Barrett IV (Ryan O’Neal) and the poor, other side ‘o the tracks girl, Jenny Cavalleri (Ali McGraw) he meets at a library, trades a lot of insults with, and decides to marry under relatively mild protest from his family, disinheriting himself in the process. Then… she gets leukemia. So, the generic title is kinda perfect.
This film works a lot better than it has any right to with a plot like that. A good chunk of the reason for that are the committed performances by O’Neal and McGraw, who have natural, strong chemistry with each other, just like another romantic drama I should be more ashamed of rather liking.
Gosling can do no wrong. NO WRONG.
The supporting cast is also working in a much better film than this script, and does a great job, especially O’Neal and McGraw’s respective fathers, especially in the film’s final tragic moments. John Marley (Mr. McGraw) may refuse to break into tears, but you’ll sure want to for his sake, and if that doesn’t work, Ray Milland’s (yes, Ray, The Fucking Lost Weekend, Milland) naked desire to support and show his love for his son without quite knowing how will seal the deal. As Felix Felicis will tell ya, Daddy Issues are one hell of a drug. On the cheerier side, holy shit, was that Tommy Lee Jones?
So, he always has been that crotchety!
At one point, I was going to applaud the unexpected edginess of the film, but then I realized that it was entirely confined to a lot of cussing. And Ali McGraw cussing sounds like a little kid who’s learned a few curse words and who’s super excited about getting to use them, but who’s clearly unaccustomed to it. It’s equal parts endearing and funny. She’s really trying, ya know, but she just doesn’t have it in her.
It’s syrup season!
The sap starts flowing during the marriage scene, and the tap doesn’t give out for the rest of the damn movie. I know, it’s like penalizing a horror film for jump scares, but still… Also, that first scene, which basically tells us she’s gonna die, was a severe misstep, robbing the later diagnosis scene of much of its shock and power for no discernable reason (no, bookend scenes for the sake of bookend scenes is not a reason).
“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Haha, what? My marriage is built on an immovable foundation of ‘sorry’, and I’m not sure how a marriage could survive without it. I say ‘sorry’ more than ‘thank you’ or ‘who’s been drinking my whiskey?’ *Checks* Yep, Erich Segal is a dude. That must have taken Ali McGraw like 90 takes to say without laughing.
This movie has its problems, but it gets the emotional core of the story plenty right- no matter how generic that story seems at first glance.
Take a Drink: whenever Oliver shows off his temper
Take a Drink: for affectionate insults
Take a Drink: for Daddy Issues. Goddam, he has some Daddy Issues.
Do a Shot: for that damn song!