Love Barbra Streisand? Try these!
The Way We Were
One of the quintessential Barbra Streisand experiences, this tragic romance from 1973 features a daringly vulnerable performance from the star in the role of an idealistic communist nerd in love with Franklin Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin, and Robert Redford, a beautiful blond college jock who turns out to have a slightly higher degree of substance than she had expected. The emotionally epic story, perfectly suited to the two leads’ strengths, follows the ups and downs of their relationship through the forties and into the fifties, when Streisand’s immovable conviction that “people are their principles” precipitates a crisis between them. Any viewer not as verklempt as Linda Richman at the end of The Way We Were is probably an ogre. Shame on this movie, though, for showing the star sophisticatedly smoking during her pregnancy. DVD extras include an audio commentary with director Sydney Pollack as well as a quality documentary on the making of The Way We Were that features clips of some of the scenes dealing with the Hollywood blacklists that were cut from the finished film. Pollack, who sought to depict “the country’s paranoia”, insists that “there is no defense for a person who names names.” The touchiness with regard to loyalty oaths and American “paranoia” about subversives in the movie industry is understandable given that Pollack himself was posthumously revealed by his and Streisand’s friend, the spy and Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, to have been recruited by a foreign government to assist with “covert acquisitions of sensitive military equipment.”
All Night Long
This offbeat and neglected 1981 romantic comedy stars Gene Hackman as a husband and father who disapproves of his son’s liaison with married woman Barbra Streisand. Things get more complicated when the middle-age-crazy Hackman falls in love with her, too. Demoted from his position at a drug store franchise’s corporate headquarters after a violent breakdown, Hackman is relegated to an unenviable assignment as the night manager of a store in a dodgy neighborhood, which serves as the setting for a succession of zany goings-on. Some of the humor tends toward slapstick, but admirers of dramas and comedies of romantic obsession and restlessness like 1972’s The Heartbreak Kid, 1978’s An Unmarried Woman, or 1982’s Tempest are advised to take a chance on this one. The story is an exemplar of the responsibility-sucks-quit-your-marriage-listen-to-your-feelings-and-be-free messaging with which the Baby Boomers were pummeled. Streisand is arguably miscast in a Marilyn Monroe type of sultry ditz role, but those who enjoyed her turn in 1970’s The Owl and the Pussycat might also want to see her antics in All Night Long. Blu-ray extras include an insightful and amusing interview with screenwriter W.D. Richter, who makes no secret of his dislike of what he sees as the film’s confused sensibility.
The Prince of Tides
Truly a titan among chick flicks, 1991’s The Prince of Tides is, along with 1995’s The Bridges of Madison County, one of the two great pieces of adultery-as-transformative-self-actualization hokum of its decade. Streisand capably produces, directs, and stars as a New York psychiatrist whose treatment of a suicidal poet leads to a series of probing interviews and emotional confrontations with the woman’s mysteriously troubled brother, a South Carolina teacher and football coach played by Nick Nolte. Nolte’s corny southern accent comes and goes in his role as the memory-haunted prince, but watching the two top-tier stars spar makes for plenty of powerful moments. The Prince of Tides is an intensely intimate movie that will touch the viewer – repeatedly and with such insistence that some may feel they need a restraining order after watching it. In addition to an entire second disc’s worth of extras, the Criterion DVD release features a literate commentary on the film by the director