The Way They Were
How Epic Battles and Bruised Egos Brought a Classic Hollywood Love Story to the Screen
by Robert Hofler
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Pub Date 24 Jan 2023 | Archive Date 07 Feb 2023
Kensington Books, Citadel
“Theater critic Hofler (Money, Murder, and Dominick Dunne) delivers a spellbinding behind-the-scenes look at the seminal 1973 film The Way We Were. Hofler’s prose sparkles, and he successfully blends histrionics with on-screen magic. The captivating result makes clear that the drama happening behind the camera can be just as gripping as what’s in front of it.” - Publishers Weekly STARRED Review
Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of “The Way We Were,” this intriguing and impeccably researched book is the first ever account of the making of the classic film starring Barbara Streisand and Robert Redford, revealing the full story behind its genesis and continued controversies, its many deleted scenes, its much-anticipated but never-filmed
sequel, and the real-life romance that inspired this groundbreaking love story…
It’s one of the greatest movie romances of all time. Fifty years on, the chemistry between Barbra Streisand as Jewish working-class firebrand Katie Morosky and Robert Redford as all-American golden boy Hubbell Gardiner remains potent. Yet the friction and controversy surrounding The Way We Were were so enormous, the movie was nearly never made at all.
Impeccably researched and eye-opening, The Way They Were reveals the full story behind the challenges, rivalries and real-life romance surrounding the movie. Even the iconic casting was fraught. Screenwriter Arthur Laurents wrote the role of Katie with Streisand in mind, but finding Hubbell was another matter. Redford was reluctant to play what he perceived as the “Ken doll” to Streisand’s lead, and demanded his role be beefed up, with ten writers—among them Francis Ford Coppola—called in to rework the script.
The first preview was disastrous. Several scenes were cut, angering Streisand and Laurents, yet the edits worked. The new version was a resounding success, and its appeal endures, earning it a regular spot in the AFI’s annual Top 10 movie romances.
The Way They Were also explores the deep, surprising love story that inspired the screenplay—the relationship between Laurents, a Jewish Brooklyn-born college leftist, and his longtime partner, Tom Hatcher. Drawing on a vast trove of Laurents’s unpublished writings, as well as interviews with Streisand, Redford, and other key players, this is the definitive account of a film that changed the rules of moviemaking and has defined romance ever since.
“The Way They Were has it all: Huge egos on collision courses; great showbiz gossip; and insight into how Hollywood movies once got made. But at its center is the love story between Arthur Laurents, a Broadway legend with the sharpest of tongues, and Tom Hatcher, who put up with it all. It's a complicated love story to be sure, but that's what makes Robert Hofler's book so compelling." —Michael Riedel, author of Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway
"No one captures the magic of movie-making, from Fade In to Fade Out, better than Robert Hofler. In The Way They Were, he delivers a riveting account of a cinematic epic full of colorful details and characters who leap off the page. Filled with prodigious research, shrewd insight, and driven by a powerful narrative, the book provides a luminous chronicle of personalities ready for their close-ups and the business that enables them." —Bob Spitz, author of The Beatles and Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child
"And you thought Katie and Hubbell’s relationship was complicated? Wait until you delve into the making of The Way We Were. In scrupulous journalistic detail, Robert Hofler relates the behind-the-scenes internecine conflicts and intricacies of one the screen’s great romances. What surfaces is a backstory as captivating—and, at times, as heartbreaking—as The Way We Were itself." —Stephen M. Silverman, author of David Lean and The Catskills: Its History and How It Changed America
"For movie lovers, Robert Hofler's surprising exploration of the making of The Way We Were contains secrets and insights into the writing and producing of one of the most romantic movies of the 1970s. But for Barbra Streisand fans it is a definite must-read as a key milestone in the evolution of a star." —Sharon Waxman, author of Loot and Rebels on the Backlot
"Robert Hofler’s lively behind-the-scenes tale captures the complicated dance of star power, talent, and politics that made The Way We Were such a breakout Hollywood romance. With insightful, often droll commentary and rich detail, he entertains and illuminates the art of bringing a classic to the screen." —Becky Aikman, author of Off the Cliff: How the Making of Thelma & Louise Drove Hollywood to the Edge
"Robert Hofler brings his vast knowledge of popular culture, movies, and the anxious, talented and flawed people who create them to tell the tale of the making of The Way We Were, one of Hollywood’s last great romantic melodramas. Hofler presents a legendary cast of characters, starting with the gifted but bruising screenwriter Arthur Laurents, to the combative producer Ray Stark, to the savvy director Sydney Pollack, who deftly navigates around the conflicts and contradictions between the movie’s two super-stars, Barbra Streisand, the nervous perfectionist, and Robert Redford, the nonchalant cool guy. Hofler’s portraits are intimate, compassionate yet unblinking; his eye and ear for a good story—whether Pollack’s overnight trimming with a razor blade of 11 minutes of bloat from the final cut; or how Marvin Hamlisch’s stirring melody helped paper over some of the glaring defects of the plot—help keep the narrative moving along at rapid speed. The book is a delivery van stuffed with great dish, couplings and uncouplings, and powerful insights into The Way It Was Done. —Glenn Frankel, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Shooting Midnight Cowboy: Art, Sex, Loneliness, Liberation and the Making of a Dark Classic.
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