Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Love Story (1970)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Love Story (1970)

In director Arthur Hiller's sentimental and "weepie" romance melodrama:

  • the opening line of Harvard pre-law hockey player Oliver "Preppie" Barrett IV (Ryan O'Neal) as he thought back - in flashback - to the love story he experienced with Radcliffe music student Jenny Cavalleri (Ali MacGraw): ("What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died? That she was beautiful and brilliant? That she loved Mozart and Bach, the Beatles, and me?")
  • the first encounter between the two principals at the front desk of the Radcliffe library when the quick-witted Jenny called him a "preppie" ("You look stupid and rich!"), and her own self-description: "I'm smart and poor"; and his invitation to take her out for coffee, where she learned that he was the heir to the Barrett fortune already demonstrated by buildings named after the Barretts on the Harvard campus; when he was incensed by her repeated insults, he asked: ("If you think I'm a loser, why did you bulldoze me into buying you coffee?") - she memorably replied: "I like your body"
  • the major scene of the star-crossed couple walking across the Harvard campus and talking about their relationship, when he delivered an ultimatum for her to give up her emotional defenses: ("Look, Cavalleri, I know your game, and I'm tired of playing it. You are the supreme Radcliffe smart-ass - the best - you can put down anything in pants. But verbal volleyball is not my idea of a relationship. And if that's what you think it's all about, why don't you just go back to your music wonks, and good luck. See, I think you're scared. You put up a big glass wall to keep from getting hurt. But it also keeps you from getting touched. It's a risk, isn't it, Jenny? At least I had the guts to admit what I felt. Someday, you're gonna have to come up with the courage to admit you care"); when she responded that she cared ("I care"), they kissed and the scene dissolved into their nude embracing and kissing during love-making in his dormitory room
  • in a snowy montage, the loving couple played in the snow, made snow angels, ran and chased after each other, wrestled together, ate snow, made a snowman (and kissed), tossed a football at each other in a stadium, and collapsed in each other's arms with kisses and flecks of snow on their faces
  • the scene of Oliver's impromptu marriage proposal to Jenny after she told him she had a scholarship to study in Paris the following year -- she had told him it was "inevitable...that we're gonna graduate and go our separate ways, and that you're gonna go on to law school...You're a preppy millionaire and I'm a social zero" -- and then he popped the question: "Don't leave me Jenny. Please...What about our marriage?...I'm saying it, now"; she was astounded: "You want to marry me?...Why?"
  • the marriage ceremony and the exchange of vows (as the camera circled around them) between a very poetic Jenny and Oliver, although their wedding was disapproved by Oliver's rich, snobbish, and powerful father Oliver Barrett III (Ray Milland): Jenny: ("When our two souls stand up erect and strong Face to face, silent, drawing nigh and nigher Until the lengthening wings break into fire at either curved point, What bitter wrong can the earth do to us That we should not long be here contented? Think! In mounting higher, the angels would press on us And aspire to drop some golden orb of perfect song Into our deep, dear silence Let us stay rather on earth, Beloved, Where the unfit contrarious moods of men recoil away And isolate pure spirits And permit a place to stand and love in for a day With darkness and the death-hour rounding it"); Oliver responded: ("I give you my hand! I give you my love more precious than money. I give you myself before preaching or law. Will you give me yourself? Will you come travel with me? Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?")
  • the "Love means never having to say you're sorry" scene (Jenny's original statement), when she was found by Oliver crying on the front porch, and they were making amends with each other after a fight; when he apologized: ("Jenny, I'm sorry"), she cautioned him: ("Don't. Love means never having to say you're sorry")
  • the serious scene of the doctor informing Oliver that his 24 year-old wife Jenny was not only incapable of becoming pregnant - she was also dying of an unnamed disease: ("Jenny is very sick... She's dying"); and Oliver's emotionally-numbing walk back to his apartment
  • Jenny's strong reaction to her own diagnosis, and her steadfast insistence that Oliver remain strong and "merry" in the face of her death: ("I'm counting on you to be strong, you god-damn hockey jock...You, after all, you're gonna be the merry widower... Yes, you will be, I want you to be merry. You'll be merry, OK?")
  • the concluding sequence of Jenny's lengthy, tear-inducing final deathbed conversation with Oliver at the Mount Sinai Hospital when she urged him to be strong and told him her final wishes: ("It doesn't hurt, Ollie, really it doesn't. It's like falling off a cliff in slow-motion, you know. Only after a while, you wish you'd hit the ground already, you know...Now you've gotta stop being sick...that guilty look on your face, it's sick. Would you stop blaming yourself, you god-damn stupid preppy. It's nobody's fault. It's not your fault. That's the only thing I'm gonna ask you. Otherwise, I know you're gonna be OK. (pause) Screw Paris!...Screw Paris and music and all that stuff you thought you stole from me. I don't care, don't you believe that? (He shook his head 'no') Then get the hell out of here. I don't want you at my god-damn deathbed"); when he admitted he really did believe her ("I believe you, I really do"), she made a last request of him: ("That's better. Would you please do something for me, Ollie? (He kissed her hand) Would you please hold me? (He half-heartedly hugged her) No, I mean really hold me. Next to me") - and he reclined next to her on the bed, as she died in his arms
Reclining on Bed with Jenny as She Died
Oliver to His Father: "Love means never having to say you're sorry"
Closing Credits
  • afterwards, in the hallway, Oliver spoke to Jenny's father Philip (John Marley), who said with a choked-up voice: ("I wish I hadn't promised Jenny to be strong for you"); as he left the Mount Sinai Hospital, Oliver ran into his father Oliver Barrett III at the entrance, who asked: ("Why didn't you tell me? I made a couple of calls, and as soon as I found out, I jumped right in the car. Oliver, I want to help."); Oliver simply replied: "Jenny's dead." When his father began to reply: "I'm sorry...", Oliver interrupted him and repetitively quoted his late wife's earlier remark to his apologetic father, when referring to their past misunderstandings: ("Love, love means never having to say you're sorry") - the last line of film dialogue
  • for the remaining three minutes in the touching finale, Oliver silently walked across the street to snow-covered Central Park as the poignant, award-winning "Love Story" theme music built up and played and he contemplated what life would have been like with Jenny, while sitting on a bench - the camera pulled away from him, shot from behind, before the closing credits

First Encounter in Radcliffe Library

Walking Across the Harvard Campus Before a Kiss

Snowy Montage

Marriage Proposal

Marital Vows During Marriage Ceremony

"Love Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry"

Doctor's Diagnosis of Jenny's Terminal Illness

Jenny to Oliver: "I want you to be merry"


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