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.