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The Way We Were
Dir. Sydney Pollack (1973)
The best example comes from the extended Sex and the City (the TV series) Carrie and Mr. Big plot that culminated in Mr. Big marrying a girl who was "beige," and having a tragic reunion outside The Plaza with Carrie, hair curly and wild, graciously accepting her independence with a "Your girl is lovely, Hubbell."
It's a pleasant surprise, however, to realize that The Way We Were is a wonderful film. After all, to quote a Gilmore Girls episode (another TV series that cited it constantly), "What are you waiting for? Heartache, laughter, communism. All in one neat package."
Streisand plays one of the best-written female characters in a romance, the political, willful Katie Morosky, a Marxist Jew who sets off on an improbable romance with Hubbell Gardner (Robert Redford in hot WASP splendor), a golden boy with a secret writing talent. Despite the fact that Katie is "plain" in comparison to Hubbell, they make a spiritual, romantic, and intellectual connection, heading off into the world together. But when Hubbell goes Hollywood, and Katie embraces her politics in a time of McCarthyism, the strain may be too much.
Although screenwriter Arthur Laurents decried the changes that Pollack made to his orginial script, the film maintains an air of swooning, melancholy romance. (Even if Pollack cut the McCarthy-driven conflict at the heart of their divorce.) Katie is one of the treasures of film: a smart girl who didn't plan on falling for and getting the golden boy, who fights with her principles and her feelings over love and politics. It's a complex, fascinating character. There should be more movies with female characters as exciting as Katie Morosky*.
[*Perhaps the upcoming adaptation of the hit book One Day, starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, has the potential to be as epic as The Way We Were. We will see.]
Note of apology: This is kind of a bummer, but we watched this yesterday for free on Hulu, but it seems to have expired overnight. You can still click the photo below to find it (streaming) on Netflix, or to find it on demand on iTunes or Amazon. Sorry!!
Click the still to go to the film's Clicker page: