Fifty years ago, a writer named Erich Segal (Yellow Submarine) penned a screenplay and sold it to Paramount Pictures. While the film was in production, Paramount decided Segal should release it as a novel first, in order to garner interest in the upcoming movie. The novel did exactly what Paramount had hoped it would do…it became a best-seller that had fans anxiously waiting for the movie to be released.
Love Story, starring Ali McGraw (Goodbye, Columbus) and Ryan O'Neal (Paper Moon), had favorable critics reviews and was an instant box office hit. As part of Paramount Pictures' Paramount Presents series, Love Story has received the 4K remaster treatment and is coming out on Blu-ray this month.
Oliver Barret IV (O'Neal) came from a wealthy East Coast family. He did what was expected of a Barrett and attended Harvard University with the intent to continue on to Harvard Law after graduation. One day he meets Jennifer "Jenny" Cavilleri, a classical music major at the nearby Radcliffe College. Taken with her beauty and her sarcastic wit, Oliver pursues Jenny and they eventually fall in love. Discovering that Jenny has been offered a scholarship to study music in Paris, Oliver, afraid of losing Jenny, proposes and Jenny accepts.
Oliver takes Jenny to meet his parents and his ever-critical father, played by Ray Milland (Dial M for Murder), finds Jenny unsuitable and threatens to cut Oliver off financially if he marries her. After graduation, the couple marries anyway and settle into their new life, with Jenny teaching while Oliver attends Harvard Law school. He graduates third in his class and the Barrets move to New York City where Oliver has accepted a position in a prominent law firm. Wanting to start the next phase of their lives together, they work on starting a family but when Oliver and Jenny have difficulty conceiving, a series of tests reveal that Jenny is terminally Ill. Devoted to her, Oliver lays in her hospital bed, holding her until she passes away.
Love Story could have been an utter disaster had other actors been cast in the leading roles. Luckily, director Arthur Hiller (See No Evil, Hear No Evil) chose McGraw and O'Neal. McGraw lights up the screen, often overshadowing O'Neal, and the two have a physical and emotional chemistry that leaps off the screen and slaps the viewer in the face. The supporting cast offers some good performances, especially Milland, but they are merely there in the background while the focus remains on McGraw and O'Neal.
Just like so many of the Paramount Presents restorations, Love Story looks and sounds exceptional. The High Definition 1080p resolution offers visually stunning pictures despite some graininess. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 gives the restoration crisp and clean dialogue and perfectly showcases Francis Lai's (My Best Friend's Wedding) haunting and iconic theme song. The Blu-ray combo pack includes five extras: Audio Commentary, Play with TCM Introduction by Ben Mankiewicz, Filmmaker Focus: Leonard Maltin on Love Story, Love Story: A Classic Remembered, and Theatrical Trailer.
Love Story certainly isn't the first or the last romantic drama that will grace the big screen but it has that intangible "it" quality that makes it one of the best. McGraw is a stand out (it's a shame she didn't make too many more movies) and O'Neal compliments her in every way.
I love the Paramount Presents series because I am either discovering old films that are new to me or I am revisiting beloved movies that have never looked or sounded better!
If you like classic love stories, don't miss Hiller's Love Story on Blu-ray but make sure you have a handful of tissues because, unless you have a heart of steel, you will cry.