Friday, October 15, 2010

Must Watch Friday: The Way We Were

Modern Heat author Heidi Rice props herself up on some satin cushions, unwraps a bar of Green and Black's Almond chocolate, pops open a bottle of Prosecco, keeps the Kleenex at the ready and prepares to enjoy one of those timeless romances that just keeps getting better with age...

All right, The Way We Were is one of those movies that you know about even if you've never managed to see it all the way through. Because, let's face it, watching this movie is a bit like living a lifetime. There's highs and lows, triumph and tragedy, first love, final chances, Bob Redford in navy whites and Babs Striesand going through about twenty different hairdos and crooning "Memories, may be beautiful and yet..." on the soundtrack. What more could any hopeless romantic want?

A happy ending perhaps? 

But you see, that's what I love the most about this film, it isn't just the story of a romance - although it is effortlessly romantic - it's the story of a marriage. In fact, it's actually the story of the breakdown of a marriage. And it's dealt with in such an emotionally intelligent way, that you can't help feeling for both the characters. There are no villains in this story, just two people who are drawn to each other by their differences, but once together, discover that those differences can't help but pull them apart.

They meet at college when Barbra Streisand's Katie is a working-class firebrand with principles and integrity who wants to change the world but has a hopeless crush on a man she wants to despise, Robert Redford's laid-back, privileged and effortlessly charming Hubble (and let's be honest only Bob could make that name sexy!!). Katie is drawn to Hubble because she sees something in him he doesn't see in himself. He is talented and intelligent and much more self-aware about himself than she had assumed — and also ridiculously good-looking, which never hurts. And Hubble is drawn to Katie for her drive and her ambition and for the courage of her convictions, something that he knows he lacks.

The sequence when she sees him again after years apart, completely drunk and heart-throbbingly handsome in his navy whites (all right, even I can be a sucker for a guy in uniform if it's the right guy) at a New York bar and takes him home to her flat is both sexy and sweet and yet achingly sad. They have sex for the first time and he doesn't even remember the next morning. She irons his uniform and he leaves both uncomfortable and confused by Katie's obvious vulnerability. Katie has admitted how much she likes him and Hubble hasn't even noticed.

Love, more sex (which Hubble remembers this time) and marriage follows because Katie is prepared to fight for what she wants. But his success as a Hollywood scriptwriter, the McCarthy witchhunts and the battle between Katie's principles and Hubble's vaccuous friends whom she hates, eventually tears them apart.

Until we are left with that fabulous final scene: Katie's had their baby, who is now a young girl who Hubble never sees, and is happily remarried. She spots him going into a hotel in New York with a woman on his arm much more suited to him than she ever was. But when he walks over to talk to her one last time, it's obvious that Katie still loves him - when she brushes his hair off his brow in a habitual gesture - but has come to terms with the fact that it could never work.

Both simple and complex, wonderfully romantic and yet hauntingly tragic. I give you The Way We Were, a weepie worth every kleenex in the box.

So could we, would we do it all again..? You betcha!!

So what's your favourite weepie? And why? I'm giving away a signed copy of my latest Modern Heat novel, Surf, Sea and a Sexy Stranger, to one lucky commentator. And you'll be glad to know, that one does have a happy ending!

Heidi's new Modern Heat novel, Surf, Sea and a Sexy Stranger, is out next month in the UK and in April in the US, and she's giving away another copy of it on her blog today. Her latest Presents Extra, Unfinished Business with the Duke, is out now in the US. 


  1. Oh dear me - yes . .thank you Heidi for the reminder of how much I loved this . It's all tied up with personal memories too . . . Now I know what my reward will be for getting the damn book finished.

  2. Heidi, I haven't seen this film... now I'm going to have to! (You got me at the "drawn to each other by their differences only to discover that those differences can't help but pull them apart." Powerful stuff.

    I LOVE weepies. Dead Poet's Society always makes me cry... and then there's Beaches... but I think my all-time, ultimate weepy is Truly, Madly, Deeply. Sigh. Can feel a weepy weekend coming up :-)

  3. Oh dear - those last few mins of The Way We Were had me reaching for the tissues!

    Not really a weepie but the movie Up had me choking back tears. The "dream sequence" with his wife had me biting my lip hard so I wouldnt burst into tears in front of the kid-lets!

  4. Hi Kate, hurry up and get that book finished, I wanna read it!

    Oh Michelle, I have to admit Beaches is one of my guilty pleasures, but I absolutely adore Bette Midler. And Truly Madly Deeply? Hell yes! IMHO it totally out-did Ghost in the love-stories-with-dead-people in stakes.

    And Joanne, Up was my favourite film of 2009. And that potted history of a marriage at the beginning. OMG, just sublime, had me blubbing big time, but for all the right reasons.

  5. Ha! When I sw on Twitter it was all about weepies today the first film I thought of was The Way We Were. Heavenly!

  6. Ally, great romance authors think alike, clearly!!

  7. Hi!

    Another Redford sad movie that comes to mind is UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL with Michelle Pfeiffer.

    After great thought, I'll add THE GREEN MILE, FORREST GUMP, and THE PERFECT STORM. Not romances, mind you, but sad nonetheless.

    Much as these movies are sad, I could still have sweet dreams with Redford, Hanks, and Clooney, LOL!

  8. Haven't seen this film, but just watched the clip you posted and spent the rest of Friday afternoon blubbing - thanks Heidi, I love a good weepie!

  9. Oh Laney, you had me at The Perfect Storm. Adored that movie, after seeing it at the cinema I felt like I'd survived the darn storm myself and yes, the ending as gut-wrenching.

    And susan, glad I could help exercise your tearducts for you!

  10. Do I confess here that I remember sobbing over 'Lassie' aged nine? Truly affecting, even though it seems silly now. The latest one I wept over was 'Letters to Juliet' at the end, when Claire's letter to - Bother, forgotten the character but Vanessa Redgrave played her - was read out.

  11. Alison, LOL, Lassie, I'm assuming that's the new version.... Have you ever seen a film called Greyfriars Bobby? That's got this little scotch terrier who basically sits on its master's grave and won't leave, not matter how many people try to run it off. In the end they let it stay in the cemetery. And it's a true story!! OMG it made me sob my heart out... And I'm so not a dog person.

    Haven't seen Letters to Juliet. Yet!

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  13. Now I have tto watch the beginning of the way we were! Beaches was a weepie for me.

  14. And the winner of the free copy of Surf, Sea and a Sexy Stranger is...

    Michelle Douglas! Come on Down!

    If you want to email me your snail mail addy to I'll stick it in the post!

  15. I do love this film although seriously I would give up communism in a heartbeat for Robert Redford!

  16. I prefer happy stories to "weepies," but, let's face it, life isn't always sunshine and roses. Perhaps it takes the down times to make us fully appreciate the up ones.

  17. Ooh, Heidi, how lovely! Thank you.

    Have to say I love the title: Surf, Sea and a Sexy Stranger -- sounds very evocative! I'm looking forward to reading it :-)

  18. Elizabeth, I'd give up pretty much anything in a heartbeat for Bob Redford, but then I'm easy like that. LOL!

    And Gladys, good point.. Weepies can make you appreciate what you've got! Never a bad thing.

    And Michelle, you're welcome, will point the book in the post asap.. And glad you liked the title, which I'm gonna take credit for even though I didn't come up with it!