The film "Love Story" was released just before Christmas of 1970. I was eleven years old at the time and certainly aware of the film from reading copious coverage about it's stars Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal in Tiger Beat and Sixteen. By the time it got around to playing the burbs it was almost springtime of '71. Unfortunately, my parents were not the movie going types. My father always reasoned, "Why spend the money when it'll just be on TV in a few years."
That's where Mrs. Hutchins came in. We had only moved to Clinton, Md. (a DC suburb near Andrews AFB) a couple of months before. Mr. and Mrs. Hutchins lived behind our us in an old house that butted up to our 5 year old sub-division full of split-level colonial houses. They were in their 60's and their children had long since moved away. Mrs. Hutchins had taken a great liking to me, the way some older women do of 'special' and 'sensitive' boys.
One day she suggested we have a 'movie date' and go see the picture. She had heard it was a very romantic picture and thought that she was in for a Loretta Young redo. My parents were fine with it and I was thrilled that I would finally be able to see what all the talk was about. So off we sped the seven or so miles to the Marlow Heights Shopping Center Cinema in her '69 Chrysler New Yorker. For 5'1" and barely able to see over the steering wheel, she sure drove like a daemon. I adored the movie, even though I was periodically uncomfortable sitting next to an elderly woman that I didn't know very well while watching such intimate and adult subject matter.
Apparently my sentiments were not shared, as Mrs. Hutchins sat stiff and ramrod straight through the whole picture. When the movie was over and my thoughts were turning to how I could become a beautiful and smart aleck young woman so that I could get a gorgeous and rich young man like Oliver (even if it meant I'd have to die young), Mrs. Hutchins grabbed my arm and steered me in a beeline to the car. She turned the key, looked at me and delivered her verdict, "With a mouth like that, she deserved to die!" With that, she jammed the car into drive and we took off. Not another word was spoken on the drive home and there was never to be another 'movie date'.
Erich Segal has passed away in London at age 72.