Harvard Law student Oliver Barrett IV and music student Jennifer Cavilleri share a chemistry they cannot deny – and a love they cannot ignore. Despite their opposite backgrounds, the young couple put their hearts on the line for each other. When they marry, Oliver’s wealthy father threatens to disown him. Jenny tries to reconcile the Barrett men, but to no avail. Oliver and Jenny continue to build their life together. Relying only on each other, they believe love can fix anything. But fate has other plans. Soon, what began as a brutally honest friendship becomes the love story of their lives.
Oliver Barrett IV comes from an American upper-class East Coast family and is heir to the Barrett fortune. He attends Harvard University, where he is very active in ice hockey. At the library, Oliver meets Jennifer “Jenny” Cavalleri, a quick-witted, working-class Radcliffe College student of classical music. She mocks him, calling him “preppy” and “jock.” Oliver finds charm and truth in her comments. They quickly fall in love, despite their differences.
Jenny reveals her plans for the future, which include studying in Paris. Oliver is upset that he does not figure in those plans. He wants to marry Jenny and proposes. After she accepts, she is driven to the Barrett mansion to meet the old guard parents. Oliver reassures her that their class differences won’t matter. However, his parents are clearly not impressed and are judgmental. Later, at the Harvard club Oliver’s father tells him that he will cut him off financially if he marries Jenny. Oliver storms out of the dining hall. Upon graduation from college, the two students decide to marry against the wishes of Oliver’s father, who severs ties with his son. The wedding is modern and contains no religious denomination. Jenny’s widowed father attends, although he also has concerns about their social differences.
Without his father’s financial support, the couple struggle to pay Oliver’s way through Harvard Law School. Jenny gets work as a private-school teacher. They rent the top floor of a triple decker near the Law School. Oliver graduates third in his class, winning $500, and takes a position at a respectable New York law firm. They eventually move into a doorman building, which contrasts greatly with their Cambridge digs. The 24-year-olds are ready to start a family, but when they fail to conceive they consult a medical specialist. After many tests, Oliver is informed that Jenny is terminally ill. Her exact condition is never stated explicitly, but she appears to have leukemia (confirmed by Oliver in the sequel Oliver’s Story).
As instructed by his doctor, Oliver attempts to live a “normal life” without telling Jenny of her condition, but she finds out after confronting her doctor about her recent illness. Oliver buys tickets to Paris but she declines, wanting only time with him. Soon after she begins costly cancer therapy, Oliver is desperate enough over the mounting expenses to seek financial relief from his father. The senior Barrett asks what the money request of $5,000 is for, but Oliver will only say that it’s “personal”. His father asks if he’s “gotten a girl in trouble”. Oliver, not wanting to admit the truth, says yes to this scenario. His father writes him a check.
From her hospital bed, Jenny makes funeral arrangements with her father, then asks for Oliver. She tells him to not blame himself, insisting that he never held her back from music and it was worth it for the love they shared. Jenny’s last wish is made when she asks him to embrace her tightly before she dies. As grief-stricken Oliver leaves the hospital, he sees his father outside, having rushed to New York City from Massachusetts as soon as he heard the news about Jenny and wanting to offer his help. Oliver tells him, “Jenny’s dead,” and his father says “I’m sorry,” to which Oliver responds, “Love– Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Oliver walks back alone to the outdoor ice rink, where Jenny had watched him skate the day she was hospitalized.
Erich Segal originally wrote the screenplay and sold it to Paramount Pictures. While the film was being produced, Paramount wanted Segal to write a novel based on it, to be published on Valentine’s Day to help pre-publicize the release of the film. When the novel came out, it became a bestseller on its own in advance of the film.
The original director was Larry Peerce. He backed out and was replaced by Anthony Harvey. Harvey dropped out and was replaced by Arthur Hiller. Jimmy Webb wrote a score for the film that was not used.
The lead role was turned down by Beau Bridges, Michael York and Jon Voight. Ryan O’Neal was given the lead role on the recommendation of Eric Segal, who had worked with the actor on The Games; he was paid $25,000.
Filming Love Story on site caused damage to the Harvard campus; this, and a similar experience with the film A Small Circle of Friends (1980), caused the university administration to deny most subsequent requests for filming on location there.
It’s widely regarded as the ultimate romantic movie for a good reason.
To be honest I was quite surprised as the low rating the movie gets her, since I’ve always been under the assumption that this movie is widely regarded to be the best and ultimate romantic movie ever made.
The movie has all the ingredients a romantic movie needs, even the most formulaic ones. Two totally different boy and girl from different social levels fall in love with each other and of course not everyone in the environment (mainly the parents of course) are happy with this. Their love life has a couple of ups and downs in which they have to weight some choices for themselves against choices for their love together. Further more the movie also features an unavoidable dramatic twist in which one of the characters get seriously sick (Don’t worry, this is not really a spoiler since this is mentioned right in the beginning of the movie already). In other words this movie has all of the formulaic sappy sounding ingredients to make this a sappy formulaic romantic movie. Yet “Love Story” is not. Why? It’s hard to put your finger on why “Love Story” is so much more and so much better than your average love story but I guess that you can still answer this question, once you start analyzing the movie.
Although the story and all of its elements are sappy and formulaic the movie itself doesn’t try to be sappy or dramatic. The movie doesn’t attempt to make you cry, by putting in over-the-top dramatic filmed moments with dramatic loud music and all that sort of stuff. Instead the movie chooses to take a realistic approach, no real surprise, considering that this is a ’70’s movie. The decade in which the most realistic (and best) movies were made. It has as a result that the movie never feels forced or overdone. It even makes the most formulaic and predictable elements of the movie work out, as strange and unbelievable as it might sound. You also have to keep in mind that at the time it was released, this movie was not formulaic at all. It was a fresh approach on the genre and inspired many later movies. In a way “Love Story” was bare raising and set the standards for many later romantic movies. The movie was nominated for 7 Oscar (of which it won 1 in the end) not just for no reason.
The movie is obviously made on a low budget but it makes the end result look all the more creative. It’s effectively directed by Arthur Hiller, who later went on directing lame comedies. A real waste of talent. The musical score by Francis Lai is a classic and the simple effective cinematography from Richard C. Kratina makes the movie feel all the more realistic.
The movie made Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal big stars for the moment and they were both even nominated for an Oscar. To be frank I didn’t even always liked their characters in the movie and I’ve never been to fond of Ryan O’Neal as an actor. In that regard I liked the supporting cast way better with John Marley, Ray Milland and Tommy Lee Jones in his very first (and very small) screen appearance. He looked so amazingly young, that he was hard to recognize.
Although the movie takes some formulaic and obvious dramatic turns, the movie still always remain perfectly watchable, just not always emotionally involving enough. So I’m not to sure about it if this is a movie that can (still) make people cry. Nevertheless the movie still has its powerful moments, mostly due to the realism of it all. Everybody should be able to recognize the situations- and put themselves in the place of the characters of the movie. Everybody have been through similar events in their life at one point, in one way or another.
Now days lots of people actually complain about the tag-line and famous quote from the movie; ‘Love means never having to say you’re sorry’. People find this a stupid and illogical line. To those people I would like to say; Wait until you’ve truly falling in love once. If you’ve REALLY been in love, you’ll understand what is the meaning of that line. Love is about mutual respect and also accepting each others less pleasantries and still love each other for it. This also means never having to apologies to each other. Actually when I was in love once and the girl felt the same way about me (Yes amazing, I know. It seems like ages ago now), whenever one of us said ‘sorry’ for something the other always said; ‘You never have to apologize for anything to me’. None of us had ever seen the movie or heard of its famous line before, so I think that really says something about the line and the truth that is in it.
It in my opinion certainly is one the best and perhaps most influential romantic movie ever made. A must-see that deserves more objective respect and higher rating on here.