Being the first film to really tackle the political turmoil that was caused by the anti-communism movement McCarthyism and the Hollywood Blacklist, The Way We Were from 1973 almost fell apart from its own background politics.
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Initially, Robert Redford didn’t want even to be in the film because the character of Hubbell was too one dimensional for the actor. After Director Sydney Pollack and writer Arthur Laurents traded heated words was Pollack able to change the role so that Redford felt that it was worth his attention.
Even once the film was in production the different styles of lead Barbra Streisand and Redford we at odds. Redford takes a very intuitive approach to acting whereas Streisand would talk to director Sydney Pollack for hours each night working on the next day’s shooting. When she would approach Redford, he would knock her back gently and say he’ll “feel it” at the moment.
A film dealing with the Hollywood Blacklist also got a massive boost from someone that suffered at the hands of it. Dalton Trumbo was a successful screenwriter that was blacklisted from working in Hollywood because he wouldn’t confirm or deny having anything to do with the communist party because he felt it was none of the governments business. Once he was blacklisted he would work in Hollywood under pseudonyms. It was under these names that he wrote Roman Holiday and Spartacus. Trumbo contributed to the script for The Way We Were to give it the authenticity it needed for the blacklist material.
One of the greatest romance films of all time and with one of the most iconic theme songs as well. Funnily enough, Streisand had to be talked into singing the song for the film as she wanted to be only an actor. Hard to think of the song being sung by anyone else.
Were you a fan of The Way We Were? What is your favourite role for Redford and Streisand?