Still not sorry 

click to enlarge Pop culture valentine: Ali MacGraw appears in person at a special screening of the film at the Castro Theatre on Tuesday. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Pop culture valentine: Ali MacGraw appears in person at a special screening of the film at the Castro Theatre on Tuesday.

Forty-two years later, does love still mean never having to say you’re sorry? The best person to ask may be Ali MacGraw.

The Oscar-nominated star of the 1970 tearjerker “Love Story” hits The City, fittingly, on Valentine’s Day in a Marc Huestis Presents gala and screening at the Castro Theatre dubbed “Love: Ali MacGraw.”

“I’m puzzled myself,” MacGraw admits of the film’s allure. “I read the script 40 years ago and I cried. And I thought, ‘It must be a full moon or something — why am I crying?’ I read it straight through again and was very moved by it and amazed.”

She wasn’t the only one.

The world swooned over “Love Story.” Directed by Arthur Hiller and co-starring Ryan O’Neal, it nabbed seven Oscar nominations, and the tale, written by Erich Segal (based on his book), quickly became a pop culture valentine — it’s one of the most referenced films in history. It also made MacGraw, 31 at the time, a Hollywood darling.

“The film gave me remarkable access to people and occasions, and I am forever grateful,” she says. “At the time, I wasn’t yet really scared — yet. I was scared, but not the kind of scared I got after this movie was a blockbuster and there was all this expectation of, ‘What are you going to do next?’ That was really frightening.”

Fame proved to be a curious tightrope to walk. Her marriages to Robert Evans and Steve McQueen (“The Getaway”) launched bold headlines, and after appearing in miniseries and TV shows (“Dynasty”) in the 1980s, she moved to Sante Fe, N.M.

Of her home, she says, “I love that I am not defined by where I fit into Hollywood.”

Joining MacGraw at Tuesday’s love fest will be Mx Justin Vivian Bond, singing a “Sorry” medley, and Katya Smirnoff Skyy will sing a live version of the “Theme from Love Story.” The Ali MacGraw/Ryan O’Neal Preppie vs. Radcliffe Bitch look-alike contest sounds frothy, but event producer Huestis’ valentine — a clip compilation of MacGraw’s work shown prior to her onstage interview — should be compelling.

Meanwhile, inquiring minds want to know: Looking back on her life, what’s the most interesting thing MacGraw, 72, has learned about love?

“Here’s the thing I learned: It’s the whole deal,” she quickly responds. “In every permutation — romantic, compassionate or more affectionate, or lover, or animal — I think to not have a life that’s pretty much defined by all the kinds of love … that would be a lonely and sad life.”

IF YOU GO

Love: Ali MacGraw

Presented by Marc Huestis

Where: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday
Tickets: $10 to $45
Contact: (415) 863-0611, www.ticketfly.com  
Note: The film screens at 9:15 p.m.

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Greg Archer

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