The plot of Love Story is basically this; Two students marry. She dies.
But people wept while standing in line to see Arthur Hiller’s maudlin tale (taken from Erich Segal’s tearful best-seller) of dislikeable preppie Oliver (Ryan O’Neal) who marries his lower-class fellow student Jenny (Ali MacGraw) who is dying of cancer.
And what students. They never picket or march or demonstrate or voice any kind of opinion stronger than the one that going to Paris to pursue a music career is unimportant if one can find Truth and Beauty carrying a briefcase through Central Park to music by Francis Lai . . .
They talk like Holden Caulfield, they don’t do nude scenes, and the older generation makes all the mistakes.
Never mind the fact that they are selfish, arrogant, facetious, and boring, or that they display the same opportunistic values as those of the boy’s father, who is supposed to be the villain.
They are pretty to look at, even if they are only caricatures of living things, and besides, she has this terminal disease, see, so who in the poor audience who just wants to come in from the traffic and have a good cry, is going to analyse?
So everything works. The youngsters have their generation-gap theme and the oldsters get their eyes wet and it’s suddenly 1945 again and nobody suffers much, except the poor girl, of course, who dies in the middle of a blood transfusion looking so beautiful you can almost taste her lip frosting.
This weepy of the decade was astonishingly popular worldwide, which came as a pleasant surprise since Segal’s screenplay had been turned down by six major studios before Paramount picked it up in 1969.
Ryan O’Neal was also the sixth male star to be offered the lead role in the movie – It was turned down by Beau Bridges, Jon Voight, Michael Sarrazin, Michael York and Michael Douglas.
Love Story started shooting in January 1970, but two directors (Larry Peerce and Anthony Harvey) left before it was taken over by Arthur Hiller.
The novel was published on Valentine’s Day 1970, and by the time the movie was released in December, the book was the #1 bestseller in both hard and paperback in America.
Love Story hit the screen with the well-timed mechanics of pre-packaged instant pudding. It became a smash hit at the box office in the US with a domestic gross of over $136 million.
A sequel, Oliver’s Story, was released in 1978 to far less acclaim.
Oliver Barrett III
Ray – Oliver’s Roommate
Hank – Oliver’s Roommate
Tommy Lee Jones
Steve – Oliver’s Roommate