If the Academy Awards ever added a category for Most Tears Shed In A Movie, Love Story would definitely be a contender, if not the winner outright. Considered to be one of the most romantic movies of all time, the film is at its heart a tragedy that even Shakespeare would have been hard-pressed to match. It tells the story of rich kid Oliver Barret (Ryan O'Neal) who meets the love of his life, working-class classical music student Jenny Cavilleri (Ali McGraw) whilst at college. The film is about love triumphing above all odds except for one - Jenny's illness, which is terminal.
The original Love Story was actually a book by Erich Segal, who also wrote the screenplay for the film. The film was an instant smash upon its release that critics agreed its big-screen incarnation was both better and far more romantic than its printed predecessor. However, they also agreed that the film was schmaltzy, cheesy and filled with stylized kitsch. This explains why the film was such a box office success; the general public have a tendency to really like films that contain schmaltz, cheese and kitsch.
Luckily, the juries handing out statues also felt the same way as the movie going man and woman in the street. Although nominated in almost every major category at the Academy Awards, the film garnered one statuette, in the Best Original Score category, but it fared much better at the Golden Globes, with victories for Segal's screenplay, Ali McGraw's Best Leading Actress performance, and Arthur Hillier's direction. The film also won the Best Motion Picture award.
The movie remains Ryan O'Neal's best known, which is ironic considering he was actually fourth choice for the role of Oliver, and only got the part on the recommendation of Erich Segal because he had enjoyed working with him previously on the movie The Games. The original director's choice for the role had been Beau Bridges, who turned it down, as did Jon Voight and Michael York after him. The film also marks the film debut of one Tommy Lee Jones.