Hankies Out For '70s Chick Flicks: The Way Love Stories Were

Entertainment | October 18, 2018

Richard Dreyfus and Marsha Mason in 'The Goodbye Girl;' Robert Redford in 'The Way We Were.' Source: IMDB

The term "chick flick" may be recent, but audiences flocked to chick flicks in the '70s -- movies like Love Story, The Way We Were, and Annie Hall had 'em weeping in the aisles all decade long. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, but it can't last, for whatever reason. If it could last, there would be no movie. These romantic dramas focused on love and loss, on the difficulty of staying together in a cruel world. Chick flicks of the '70s are a place where love never means having to say you're sorry, all football players don't go to heaven, and Robby Benson can't catch a break. These romance movies and romantic comedies were intended for us to feel the love and to believe in the power of romance, a power that smacked us in the face and made us cry again and again. Do you remember these chick flicks of the 1970s?

'The Goodbye Girl'

Marsha Mason and Richard Dreyfuss starred in the 1977 film, The Goodbye Girl, which was a box office favorite of the seventies. Based on a Neil Simon play, the film tells the story of a recently-dumped woman and her young daughter who are forced to share a Manhattan apartment with a stranger…a young, struggling actor. Mason’s character has a severe case of abandonment issues that begins to impact her budding relationship with Dreyfuss’s character. For his role in The Goodbye Girl, Dreyfuss won an Academy Award for Best Actor. At the time, he was the youngest person to win the award. 

'Love Story'

A tear-jerker for sure, the 1970 movie, Love Story, written by Erich Segal, starred Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw as lovers from two different socio-economic backgrounds. When it is revealed that MacGraw’s character has a terminal illness and is dying, O’Neal’s character must reconcile his feelings of guilt and remorse, and re-connect with his estranged father. The American Film Institute ranked Love Story at #9 on its list of the top romantic films of all time and the movie was one of the highest-grossing films of the seventies. 


Jeremy, released in 1973 was the breakout role for the young Robby Benson and the first role for his co-star, Glynnis O’Connor. The romantic, coming-of-age story centers on Benson’s character, a shy, awkward, 15-year old boy who becomes infatuated with a new girl at his school, played by O’Connor. Although she is older than Benson’s Jeremy, the two become friends and, soon, lovers. But the budding romance is cut short when O’Connor’s character has to move because of her father’s job. The adults in their lives dismiss their love as merely a teenage crush, Benson and O’Connor are tearfully forced to part. 

'Ice Castles'

Another Robby Benson flick, Ice Castles was a 1978 romantic film that also starred Lynn-Holly Johnson as an aspiring figure skating champion. As a small town girl, she dreams of skating at the elite level with her boyfriend, Benson, cheering her on. On her way to reaching her dream, she leaves behind her small town and her high school boyfriend for the top training facility in the country and the romantic attentions of a much older man. A freak accident leaves her blind and she returns to her home, angry and depressed. Benson’s character at first is angry with her for her affair with the older man and he is mean and demanding as he tried to get her to skate again. But eventually, the two rekindle their love and, together, plot to keep her blindness a secret while she returns to competitive skating. The theme song to Ice Castles, “Through the Eyes of Love”, which was sung by Melissa Manchester, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. 

'Summer Of '42'

Summer of ’42, a 1971 memoir of the movies screenwriter, Herman Raucher, achieved pop culture icon status in the early seventies. The coming-of-age story, set in 1942, centered on Raucher and his group of awkward, nerdy friends as they try to find love…and sex…while spending the summer on Nantucket Island. Raucher begins a one-sided love affair with an older woman, the wife of a World War II soldier. By the end of their summer vacation, the friends are a few steps closer to manhood. 

'The Way We Were'

The quintessential romantic drama, the 1973 film, The Way We Were, started Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford as two people, as different as night and day, who are inexplicably drawn together. Told through a series of flashbacks, their on again/off again love affair is, at time, terribly romantic, and at other times, profoundly sad. The movie won Academy Awards for Best Dramatic Score and Best Original Song for the theme song of the same name. The soundtrack for the film went gold and the theme song was a million-selling single. In fact, Billboard ranked the song, “The Way We Were”, as the number one hit of 1974. 

'Heaven Can Wait'

The eye-candy of Warren Beatty made this 1978 fantasy-comedy popular as a chick flick. In it, Beatty plays a professional football player who was mistakenly taken to heaven before his time and follows the complications as he returns in the body of a recently deceased man and resumes playing football. Along the way he dodges the gold-digging wife of the deceased man whose body he now inhabits, and her murderous lover. He also falls in love. When it becomes clear that he will need to give up his new body and find another, he encourages his new girlfriend to open her eyes to the possibility of a new love coming into her life. After he secures a new body, he bumps into her and starts their romance over again. 

'Annie Hall'

The king of quirky romance movies, Woody Allen wrote and co-starred in Annie Hall, a 1977 film that has been called one of the greatest films of all times. The awkwardly romantic Allen tries to dissect the reasons why his relationship with Diane Keaton has failed. The film won numerous awards and acclaim. It won the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Original Screenplay.

Tags: Annie Hall | Chick Flicks | Heaven Can Wait | Ice Castles | Jeremy | Love Story | Movies In The 1970s | Popular Lists Of Everything From The Groovy Era | Remember This?... | Summer Of 42 | The 1970s | The Goodbye Girl | The Way We Were

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Karen Harris


Karen left the world of academic, quitting her job as a college professor to write full-time. She spends her days with her firefighter husband and four daughters on a hobby farm with an assortment of animals, including a goat named Atticus, a turkey named Gravy, and a chicken named Chickaletta.