Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Your girl is lovely, Hubbel

SPOILER ALERT: This post contains plot spoilers of the 1973 film The Way We Were, starring Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford. If you have been meaning to see this movie for the past 38 years, but have not, please do not continue reading any further.

In the end scene of The Way We Were, Babs (Katie Morosky) and Bobby (Hubbel Gardiner) spot one another across the street, years after they divorced. The theme music swells as they approach and embrace one another, while Hubbel's new wife stands at his side watching the scene unfold. An awkward conversation ensues, leading to an even more awkward goodbye where Katie invites them over for a drink. A few moments later, he crosses the street to talk to her again.

This whole scene is awesome – first, she mentions that she is a better loser than he, having had more practice. And then after a brief silence she says, “Your girl is lovely, Hubbel.”

This is such a bitingly perfect compliment. The blonde charmer is a girl, an object that accompanies Hubbel but is too afraid to speak up even when he is reunited with his greatest love. She is also everything Katie could never be – exceedingly beautiful and content to live non-controversially as the wife of a Hollywood screenwriter. Meanwhile, Katie is still standing on the side of a New York street corner screaming at passersby to sign a petition, showing that her fiery passion hasn’t diminished at all. The disparity in their goals and personalities worked for a brief time, but it never could have lasted; though he was at his best when constantly challenged by Katie, Hubbel was not strong enough to sustain the counter-culture lifestyle. Somehow, this scene acts as evidence that their decision to split was the right one, while simultaneously showcasing the regret and “what if” that Katie and Hubbel will always feel.

This ending, in case you can’t tell, slays me. First, I am more Katie than I am blonde charmer. Second, I’ve dated more Hubbels than I have political activists. And third, I am excellent at projecting. So any time I catch this scene, I can be found sniffling and moaning at the injustice of it all. As LH would say, you should see this movie if you want to. Even though now I’ve given away the ending.


A note to scriptwriters, producers, directors and other Hollywood movers and shakers: Should anyone ever bring up the possibility of remaking The Way We Were starring, say, Jessica Biel and Ryan Reynolds, I will personally quit my day job and protest, Katie Morosky style, outside your shoot everyday until you are forced to shut down production. There are some things that should remain untouched.


Meike Lusye Karolus said...

Hello Gina. My name's Meike from Indonesia. I was linked into your blog while I search some informations about "The Way We Were" movie. I'm in love with this movie. Sure, Barbara and Robert are untouchable, kind of legend i thought. Cannot replace by others. And the last scene is really touchy. Pollack was very brilliant.

Robbie said...

Great post on 'The Way We Were'. I first abbreviated it to TWWW, but then realized how silly that looked, as if Katie herself was looking over my shoulder murmuring 'oh, no. You're not going to write that, are you? That's awful'. Haha.

But your post was not awful. Not one bit. Like Hubbell said about Katy's cooking, 'it's great'. I have to confess, I am more Hubbell than Katie. A lot more. A biz lazy, I do try to skate by on my apparent looks and charm rather than work harder. And I do sit on the fence more often than not. That 'often' often means avoiding friction or complications of the political kind. But for some reason I've often been attracted to the 'Katie's' out there, those stirring the pot, making a fuss about the issue of the day. I've known many and dated some just like her. Alarmingly like her. And no, (he laughs) they weren't easy. But like the movie showed so well, those 'Katie's' brought out the best in me, and I really liked myself when I was with them. So this movie hit me hard, especially hard with that point.

I just watched it today on afternoon TV here in Tokyo. I caught it by chance. It had already started, and since I've seen it so many times, had no trouble at all just sitting down on the sofa with my tea and watching it again on this rainy Sunday afternoon. As always that soundtrack and award winning song gets me every time. This time was no different. I was trying to hide the moist eyes as that last scene began, knowing how it would end.

It's not a perfect movie by any means. But it is a magical one. And like you, I would be very upset if they decided to remake it. And like Hubbell, I would rise up to challenge and answer the call to arms to join your ranks of protesters waving placards and signing petitions to demand they halt any further ludicrous ideas of a remake. Well, just wanted to cross the street and say that.

Take care and See Ya.

Robbie in Tokyo