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RIP Erich Segal - CinemaDave

Jan. 19th, 2010 05:49 pm RIP Erich Segal

When I began the concept of “Literary Cinema” programming,
I asked one of my female colleagues to recommend a title for February to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Without hesitation, she quickly suggested “Love Story” and spoke enthusiastically about the title. With some trepidation, I chose the title.

I met ridicule from “cinema insiders.” As I researched the film, I learned that “Love Story” IS the film on Harvard University that incoming freshmen mocked as part of their imitation. Feeling foolish, I sought to at least give the attendees a good lecture.

It turns out that Erich Seagal, the author of “Love Story,” had a very interesting career. He was a scholar of Greek Literature and was the screenwriter for the Beatles cartoon, “Yellow Submarine.” Apparently Professor Segal felt embarrassed by the success of his novel and was shunned by his faculty.

Taken as a time capsule, one can look at “”Love Story” as a historical documentary of 1970. The music of Frances Lai used to play on AM Radio frequently in the 1970s. Combined with the musical score, the cinematography was gorgeous and created
visual poetry.

The results, the audience wept like a baby. I provided Kleenex and my gang of 20 little old ladies used half a box. This group said that they enjoyed this movie like they did 35 years earlier. It was a golden moment for me when one of the participants mentioned that she was a student of Erich Segal. She confirmed his embarrassment over the success of this movie.

This was an important lesson for me.
Despite the cornball nature of this film, people enjoyed “Love Story” for it’s pure emotion and simple story telling. Also, I had forgotten that Ali McGraw had a potty mouth. The dialog consisted with alternative forms of the expression, “bull doody!” I was worried about complaints. The complaints never happened and I began to think for the first time about more mature titles for future “Literary Cinemas.”

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