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Arthur Hiller
Ali MacGraw, Ryan O'Neal, John Marley
Writing Credits:
Erich Segal

A boy and a girl from different backgrounds fall in love regardless of their upbringing - and then tragedy strikes.

Rated PG.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Dolby Monaural
French Dolby Monaural
Japanese Dolby Monaural
German Dolby Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 100 min.
Price: $24.99
Release Date: 2/9/2021

• Audio Commentary with Director Arthur Hiller
• “A Classic Remembered” Featurette
• “Filmmaker Focus” Featurette
• TCM Introduction
• Trailer


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Love Story (Paramount Presents Edition) [Blu-Ray] (1970)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 2, 2021)

Based on Erich Segal’s work, 1970’s Love Story became a massive smash. Indeed, with a take of $106 million, it lands in 41st place on box office charts adjusted for inflation.

Harvard law student Oliver Barrett IV (Ryan O’Neal) comes from a background of wealth and privilege. Radcliffe student Jenny Cavilleri (Ali MacGraw) grew up in a working class family.

After they meet at a library, they butt heads but nonetheless they quickly fall in love and plan to marry. However, a slew of obstacles threaten to derail their relationship.

Going into this early 2021 screening of Story, it stood as the highest-grossing movie I’d never seen – well, highest-grossing on that adjusted for inflation list I mentioned. I was only three when it hit screens, and though I knew of it later in life, I never felt the urge to view it.

Love Story wasn’t the original “chick flick”, but it stands as arguably the ultimate expression of that genre. We get the standard “meet cute” and follow two attractive people through passion and tragedy, the staples of this sort of film.

Obviously a lot of people liked Love Story, and I suspect it still maintains a good audience. However, I can’t explain why, as the movie becomes nothing more than trite melodrama.

Granted, I say that with more than 50 years hindsight. As noted, I was a toddler when Love Story made it to theaters, so I can’t judge how it blended with other fare from the period.

That said, tragic romances go back millennia, so the theme itself brings nothing new. The question becomes whether or not Love Story can do something special with the material.

Nope. The movie hits on every cliché in the book and never turns into anything even vaguely interesting.

Should I consider it a spoiler that I alluded to “tragedy” a couple paragraphs back? No – the movie’s first scene relates impending doom, so the rest of the tale becomes a march toward the inevitable.

I don’t get the rationale for this telegraphed plot point – to create tension? I guess so – I guess Segal and the filmmakers figured the Jenny/Oliver romance would feel more dramatic if we knew it wouldn’t last.

But this doesn’t happen. The narrative follows a slow, tedious path with the expected tests of the lead couple’s love and not much more, all as we wait for tragedy to occur.

Again: maybe this felt fresher in 1970. I find that tough to imagine, but the featurette included on the disc claims “romance at the movies had come and gone”, so perhaps it did do something different for its era.

It still seems difficult to swallow that, as everything about the flick comes across as so stale and predictable. We get cardboard characters and trite story choices from start to finish.

MacGraw and O’Neal make an attractive couple, but neither lights up the screen with acting talent. They seem broad and over the top as they create annoying characters.

Segal’s script does them no favors. Packed with cheap melodrama and inane lines, even the greatest actors couldn’t redeem this material.

Audiences ate up Love Story 50 years ago, but its appeal escapes me. The movie becomes a tiresome piece of cheese.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio C/ Bonus B-

Love Story appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The image held up well over the last 50 years.

Sharpness seemed solid. A few interiors could feel a bit mushy, but these remained in the minority, so most of the flick appeared accurate and concise.

No signs of jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and edge haloes remained absent. With a nice layer of grain, I didn’t suspect overzealous noise reduction, and print flaws failed to mar the presentation.

Colors tended toward a mix of reds and teals, though that palette generally felt low-key. The hues appeared full and rich within the design choices.

Blacks seemed deep and dense, while shadows came across as smooth and clear. I felt more than satisfied with this appealing presentation.

With the Blu-ray, we get a DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. Remixed from the original monaural – which also appears on the Blu-ray – the 5.1 edition offered a moderate expansion of the material.

Music showed decent stereo spread, and effects used the five channels in a broad but not especially engaging manner. This meant that while the information popped up around the room, it lacked much specificity.

Hockey games and scenes on the road brought out the most activity, though again, these moments didn’t boast much obvious separation or movement. The mix used the speakers in an active way at times but the end result felt artificial and not organic.

Audio quality seemed dated but decent. Dialogue could feel somewhat distant at times, but the lines remained intelligible and without edginess.

Music became reasonably well-reproduced, though not exactly dynamic, and effects felt mediocre. They tended to sound stiff and metallic.

Though it remained lossy, I preferred the Dolby Digital monaural mix because it matched the visuals better. Dialogue still showed some stiffness, but the lines sounded a bit more natural.

Music remained comparable, and effects also felt fairly similar, as the mono mix’s material didn’t show much range. I simply didn’t like the less than natural soundscape of the 5.1 track, so I thought the mono version worked better.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the old DVD version? The 5.1 mix showed more life and clarity than the DVD’s lossy monaural, but it didn’t add a whole lot to the 50-year-old source. Though still lossy as well, the Blu-ray’s mono seemed better rendered than the DVD’s track, and it became my preferred listening option.

Visuals became an easier judgment, as the Blu-ray offered a massive upgrade over the blah DVD. The BD was sharper, cleaner and more vivid than its DVD predecessor.

Note that Love Story debuted on Blu-ray in 2012. Unfortunately, I never saw it, so I can’t compare it to the 2021 “Paramount Presents” edition.

A few extras appear, and we get an audio commentary from director Arthur Hiller. He provides a running, screen-specific look at aspects of his life/career, how Paramount recruited him for the film, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, editing and photography.

Hiller doesn’t offer the most focused commentary on tape, as he tends to meander a bit. Still, he gives us some good insights and makes this a generally informative track, one that improves during the film’s second half as well.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we get a featurette called A Classic Remembered. The program runs 14 minutes, 49 seconds and brings notes from Hiller.

“Classic” discusses the project’s path to the screen, casting, sets and locations, camerawork, music and editing. Inevitably, we get repetition from the commentary, but Hiller makes this a decent look at the film.

New to the Blu-ray, we find Filmmaker Focus, a six-minute, 26-second piece with film critic Leonard Maltin. He provides basics about the movie’s roots and production.

Maltin gives us a competent overview, but he doesn’t tell us much that we don’t already get from Hiller. Though there’s nothing wrong with Maltin’s chat, it seems superfluous and redundant.

We can also watch the movie with or without an introduction from TCM host Ben Mankiewicz. In his three-minute, 28-second talk, Mankiewicz offers some basics about the flick. This also becomes another rehash of material we already know.

Given its legendary reputation, I hoped Love Story might fare better than the average “chick flick”. Unfortunately, the movie delivers nothing more than the usual sentimental schlock. The Blu-ray brings solid picture and adequate audio along with a few bonus features. This turns into a good release for a tiresome movie.

To rate this film, visit the prior review of LOVE STORY

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