The Way We Were (1973)
A People Magazine cover shoot masquerading as a movie. The film has everything going for it — interesting story, precise period detail, a big budget, and even bigger stars — but it can’t overcome a director (Sydney Pollack) who has no feel for the time and place. The leads move from scene to scene with introductions and camera set-ups identical to the ones that came before. It takes place during and after World War II, but Robert Redford’s thatched “summer boy” headdress smacks of Santa Monica Pier c.1973. Streisand plays an outwardly tough dame who vacillates between fierce independence and hopeless need. By day, she’s a college student championing Leftist causes; but the moment Redford is around, she becomes a dishrag waiting for some buff surfer to come along and wipe his hands all over her. In all fairness, the film was heavily tampered with after initial previews proved that audiences of the day preferred romantic interludes to unpleasant talk of the Hollywood Ten. Note that Murray Hamilton’s character appears and quickly vanishes, never to be heard from again. Perhaps as a result, the viewer gets the idea that the stars are frequently reacting to a subplot that isn’t there.