A Pictorial History of the Movies: 1970 – Love Story

It might seem like a strange choice now, but this was a cultural phenomenon in 1970.

It’s always funny to see how romance movies look years later. Because almost always, they seem to appear schlocky or schmaltzy or contrived or something. This movie is no exception. The romance is very much a product of its era, and almost all of them will seem terrible when watched years later.

Case and point – Jerry Maguire. Jerry Maguire has since become its own cliché. We love it because of the sports movie aspect, but when you get to the romance element, and “You complete me” and “You had me at hello” – people scoff at that now. But at the time, it was romantic as shit. Don’t even pretend like it wasn’t.

This movie is the Jerry Maguire of 1970. It was a huge hit, romantic as hell, tragic as hell, and everyone went out to see it. And since then, it’s become so copied and used as a template for romances that to see it now, it’s almost laughable. (To some people. I saw this for the first time in 2010, and completely fell in love with it.)

But the fact remains, if we’re talking 1970, this is the movie.

Even Paramount will acknowledge that. Because this movie actually helped save Paramount. Paramount was in jeopardy of going away. But then Robert Evans showed up and had a string of hits (including this one, and The Godfather, and Chinatown… basically some throwaway fare that no one even remembers), and that kept the studio afloat and brought them back to prominence.

Paramount did that 100 year anniversary photo last year or the year before, and in it, they had Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw placed front and center. Because this movie is a huge piece of Paramount’s history.

This movie is also one of the templates for the romance genre. Rich boy meets poor girl. They meet cute. There’s some great dialogue. They fall in love, despite not really liking each other upon the first meeting. We see them deal with stuff (he has a rocky relationship with his father. His father doesn’t want him to marry a poor girl, etc.), but ultimately love wins out. And then she gets sick and dies. The last part doesn’t always happen, but you’ve seen the first part dozens of times. And all of the times you’ve seen it owe inspiration to this movie.

This movie was new and unique in 1970. It was the highest grossing movie of the year, and the highest grossing movie in the history of Paramount (until The Godfather). It’s on all the lists of best romance movies of all time, greatest movie quotes of all time, all of that.

And even though this hasn’t held up as much as some of the other movies of this era, this still was the most representative film of 1970.


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