I'm coming out of the closet. The closet that is of the people who find it fun to laugh at this movie. Yes, by 1970 standards, it was certainly dated, but audiences didn't seem to care. It was a smash hit and the "Titanic" of its time. It is the type of movie that MGM would have done in 1935 with Joan Crawford and Ray Milland (more about him in a bit!) as the lovers and Edward Arnold and Lionel Barrymore as the fathers. With "Midnight Cowboy" as the most recent Best Picture winner and big Hollywood musicals losing millions of dollars, how can an old fashioned love story so filled with clichés become so popular? Simply this-audiences needed something like this to bring them back down to earth from all of the social issues of the late 60's and early 70's and have a good old fashioned cry. While 1973's "The Way We Were" is probably the best love story of the '70's, "Love Story" (even with its generic title) isn't far behind, and influenced producers to look to simpler themes to bring in audiences. Without "Love Story", there would have been no need for tearjerkers like "Terms of Endearment", "Beaches" and "Steel Magnolias", and that would have been a shame.Certainly, you cannot find more attractive and likable leads like Ryan O'Neal and Ali MacGraw for this film; They are gorgeous, and were the hottest on-screen couple of the year. I think what makes the film work so well is that it reminds us all of our own mortality. John Marley, as MacGraw's earthy father, is magnificent, so totally likable that it is easy to understand why he would be friends with his daughter and that she would simply call him by his first name. As for Ray Milland as O'Neal's father, that is where the film's only real flaw comes in. His character seems to have no real motivation for being so controlling with his son. Milland, one of the best looking actors of the 30's and 40's, sadly gets some really bad close-ups here. Just take a look at his eyes. They looks like one of the monsters from the 1975 horror disaster "The Devil's Rain". That's some "Lost Weekend!"."Love Story" can be a trifle manipulative at times as the music swells to a powerful crescendo at melodramatic moments. But it is that music today that people remember, and it is beautiful. There are few totally perfect films, but "Love Story" takes predictability and makes it acceptable to be "formula". It helps to rise above cynicism when watching films like this and just enjoy its tribute to innocent youth who must face mortality head on.
I will admit this is not a movie for everyone, but for me at face value I liked the movie. Yes, some of it is slow, some scenes are overwrought and some of the characters aren't as well developed as they could have been. That said, it is nicely filmed, with pleasant cinematography, and Francis Lai's score is memorable. The song may grate on people's nerves, but even to this day it is one of those songs that has stayed with me for like forever, due to its hypnotic and haunting melody. The story is a very heady and simple mixture of true love and life-threatening illness, and I think it is quite effective, and the dialogue is bittersweet and touching. The ending is a real weepie, and requires at least 5 tissues. The acting is good, with Ali McGraw tragic and hot as Jenny and Ryan O'Neil appealing and somewhat sexy as Oliver. As his father, Ray Milland does a good job, he has been better, but he was still good here. Overall, not for everyone, but for those who aren't so cynical, it won't grate like nails on a blackboard as you think. 7/10 Bethany Cox 2b1af7f3a8