Sunday, October 7, 2012

Love Story’s Memory Lane

Saturday afternoon hub and I saw a matinee performance of the musical Love Story. I doubt there is any baby boomer who does not remember the tear-jerker of a movie, based on the novel by Erich Segal, starring Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw.  There was a novel and movie sequel several years later titled Oliver’s Story, starring Ryan O’Neal and Candice Bergen, but I never saw it.
Ryan O'Neal and Ali McGraw in Love Story.

The musical version of the story is fairly new, premiering in England in 2010 and playing for several weeks in London. Philadelphia’s Walnut Street Theater production is the American premier of the musical.

The musical closely follows the novel and movie story line, although after decades it is hard to remember more than the basics. Rich Harvard brat (Oliver) meets struggling Radcliffe poor girl (Jenny) of Italian background. They fall in love and marry. Rich Dad objects and disinherits son.

The couple struggle as ex-rich kid attends law school, graduates and gets prestigious job with a New York law firm. The couple decide to start a family, cannot conceive and go to the doctor. We learn in the musical she is ill with leukemia, but there is no mention of exactly what her illness is in the movie. The movie reviewer and critic Roger Ebert described “Ali McGraw’s disease” as a “movie illness where the only symptom is that the sufferer grows more beautiful as death approaches.”

Anyway, Jenny dies, everyone cries, then (in the musical) sings about her wonderful attributes and father and son reconcile.

One of the most famous movie lines of all time is from Love Story. Jenny and Oliver fight, and Jenny declares, “Love is never having to say you’re sorry.”

At the end of the film Oliver leaves the hospital following Jenny’s death and encounters his father. His father apologizes, and Oliver utters the phrase once again, “Love is never having to say you’re sorry.”

The film’s signature tune, (Where Do I begin)? Love Story has proven to be another long-standing success.  Originally an instrumental piece, lyrics were added once the music became popular.  The song has been recorded by a long list of celebrities, but the best known is the original recording by Andy Williams. Williams sang the song on The Muppet Show. Watch (or fast forward) as Miss Piggy appears on stage and joins Williams in song.  

Although many critics panned the movie, it was the highest grossing movie of 1970. Nominated for seven Academy Awards, it won one, for Original Music, Original Score. The movie is rated number nine on the American Film Institute’s ‘100 years…100 Passions’ list of the best 100 American movie love stories.

We enjoyed the afternoon, but it was not great theater. The story is still a sappy tear-jerker.
Will Reynolds and Alexandra Silber in Love Story, The Musical at Philadelphia's Walnut Street Theater
And they do look like their 1970 counterparts, don't they!


  1. It was not a great book or movie either . . . but we all remember it fondly. I spent the summer of '71 in Cambridge, Mass., and the story was never very far from our minds. Thanks for the memory!

  2. As much as I love theater, I'd probably skip this one!

  3. No, we never forgot that movie. 42 years later!

  4. If it were to come on my old movies channel, I wonder if I would take the time to watch it again. I remember crying but not much more. Thanks for the synopsis, now I remember! :-)

  5. My mind went immediately to another film of the time - "Jonathan Livingston Seagull". Those were the days!

  6. OMG! "Love Story"...haven't thought of that movie or Ali or Ryan in YEARS! Thanks for the fond memories...:)JP