“I forgot my key.”
“Jenny, I’m sorry.”
“Don’t. Love … means never having to say you’re sorry.”
And there you have it. “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” The catchphrase that defined a generation. Or captured the spirit of a generation.
Well, it wasn’t a generation I was a member of. I was ten years away from birth when Love Story was doing box office business. My mother (hi, Mum!) taped this one off TV circa February 1995. A 70s blockbuster interrupted by mid-90s Australian commercials for soapies and Spray ‘n’ Wipe.
Yeah, Love Story was a midday movie. Was Ivan Hutchinson hosting midday movies at this stage? I can’t remember. I remember that he died later in ’95.
Ivan, mate, we still missya. Here’s a clip of Our Man Hutchinson in action.
Anyhoos, I digress.
So Love Story starts off on a sombre note, as you’d expect a film with the title ‘Love Story’ to start. There’s some sombre piano action and sombre shots of a snow-covered park. There’s a 1970s camera pan in to Oliver (Ryan O’Neal), and a voice-over. Here we go:
Okay, shit’s gone down. Or shit’s about to go down. Love will be lost. Youthfully. Melodically. But first the love story …
So Oliver is a university freshman with a penchant for ice hockey (there’s that ice imagery again …) and a wealthy family. Jenny (Ali MacGraw) – the ‘girl’ mentioned in the opening monologue—is a music student from the other side of the tracks. A youthful Tommy Lee Jones is spotted skulking around.
Naturally, it’s love at first sight.
(I mean, between Oliver and Jenny. Not between Oliver and Jenny and Tommy Lee Jones. Now *that* would have been entertaining!)
Free love, dig?
So naturally, Oliver’s father (played by Ray Milland, a leading man in Hollywood’s golden era who was, by this stage, headlining the likes of The Thing with Two Heads and The Uncanny) disapproves. So naturally, the young couple elope.
So naturally, then, disaster strikes.
One critic described Love Story as ‘Camille with bullshit.’ Couldn’t have summed this one up better myself. The movie essentially blends modish slang and hairstyles with cliches as old as the cinema itself. Oh, yes, the cliches are piled on here. The meaningful glances exchanged between the nubile leads. The melancholy music score. The deathbed monologue.
Yes, a deathbed monologue with the word ‘bullshit’.
So tragic. So far out, daddy-o.
Oh, and here’s the trailer for Camille. Without the jive talkin’ and the cattle excrement.
And that catchphrase. That catchphrase is uttered again, by Oliver against The Man (his father – there’s some Freudian shit at work here) before the film fades out into a mist of white snow and piano-tinkling.
Yes, it was the catchphrase that defined a generation. Well, this Gen-Xer cries ‘bullshit’. Cos let’s be real: “love means never having to say you’re sorry” really means “love means never having to say you’re wrong.”