The Way We Were
Opened October 17, 1973
On the American Film Institute's list of 100 Greatest Love Stories, The Way We Were is number 6. The movie's theme song, sung by Barbra Streisand made number 8 on the AFI's 100 Greatest Songs in Movies list.
"Ray Stark asked [Arthur Laurents] to write something for me," Barbra Streisand said, explaining how The Way We Were was developed. "He wrote a treatment that had five great scenes in it. And so I said, Yes! I want to do that as a movie. And then he wrote the script."
"I loved working with [director] Sydney Pollack because he was an actor himself so he really understood the actor's process," Barbra said.
Pollack shared the same enthusiasm for his star: “I got to direct [Barbra] in The Way We Were. It was like being given a great, big present. Of course, when I went home every night and was about to sit down for dinner, the phone would ring. Guess who? So I not only got to direct her, I got to have dinner with her every night. I would go into work every day and I would watch her fill that role with so much longing and passion and poignancy and truth that it was a big high.”
Working with Robert Redford was "really fun," Barbra recalled. "We had an interesting connection. We're so different. He was fascinated by, kept asking me about Brooklyn. He was a guy from the midwest. We're such opposites but we were kind of fascinated with each other. We actually decided not to talk about it too much; to let the examination and the really being interested in one another come out on screen." Barbra explained that Redford "has a fascinating inner life, and therefore there's always something to listen to and to look into his soul, look into his eyes."
In his book, assistant director Jerry Ziesmer described Pollack's way of directing the picture. “He began with a rehearsal period prior to the picture. Many of the rehearsals were nothing more than discussions with Barbra or Redford in Sydney's office. We also used an empty sound stage to tape out the floor plan of the El Morocco. The art department then dressed the floor plan with furniture similar to what would be in the nightclub when we actually filmed. Sydney then rehearsed the El Morocco scene with Barbra and Redford. He would say one thing to the actors and then he'd wait while they, mainly Barbra, would talk-laugh-talk, and then finally move back to the scene.”
Redford honored Streisand with a thoughtful statement when she was honored by the AFI in 2000: “Working with Barbra I hold as one of the highpoints of my film experience. I knew her before, particularly as a performer. On that level I thought she was talented, innovative, and sure. Sure of her ability, her craft, but also sure what she wanted from it. Her power as a performer created an inner beauty that made the prospect of working with her attractive. For someone so determined and in such control of herself, there are certain to be stories about how difficult she was, but such stories abound in our business and are probably best ignored. Well, guess what? She was a pain in the ass. Just kidding. She was a delight, and our connection was a delight. She was simply very alive — a critic, tough on herself, questioning, doubting, putting forth a huge effort to be the best she could be. So, quite contrary to any foregone notions, she was a joy. I will keep that experience in the sphere of fondest memory. I cannot imagine a more deserving recipient of tonight's award.”
More The Way We Were pages:
Navigate to other Streisand films using the jump menu below: