Thursday, March 27, 2014
The Way We Were, flop or a hit?
Sydney Pollack said something that hit me as a writer. He said they had a viewing of the movie on Friday night and it was a flop. The people hated it. He cut two scenes and on Saturday night it was a hit. They showed the first scene cut and I agreed with it because it didn't advance the story. The second scene he cut was brutal, but necessary to make the movie a hit.
If your familiar with the movie ( and I don't have the patience to write a summary) Hubble and Katie get divorced because Hubble sleeps with his past girlfriend (played by Lois Childs)
That's not the original reason for the divorce. The scene that is cut has Katie being named a communist to the House Un-American activities committee by a former boyfriend played by James Woods. Hubble is the writer of a novel being turned into a movie and he would be blacklisted in Hollywood for being married to a communist. Katie divorces him not because he was unfaithful, but to save his career. It was an act of love, not spite.
Pollack said the audience wasn't ready for that kind of ending. It was a bucket of cold water at the end of romantic movie. Forty years later he's been proven right. It's still a big movie and made lots of money.
As a writer he cut the guts out of what the author was trying to get the audience to feel. This was the theme, the message, what he wrote the whole story for in the first place. He intended that bucket of cold water to wake up a complacent public to how witch hunts like congress did back in the 1940's and the senate of the 1950's destroyed people's lives.
After this movie other movies and TV shows were made on the Hollywood blacklist, but none of them had the impact that this movie would have made, but marketing killed.