|When Harry Met Sally (1989) is the high-point in modern romantic comedies, a film genre absent from recent movie-making. It’s one we could now surly use. Why not see this 1980s classic, which its screenwriter Nora Ephron called,” The perfect movie.”? Directed by Rob Reiner and starring Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal, with a story based on parts of their own lives. Meg Ryan’s character Sally is based on Nora Ephron in the screenplay, while Billy Crystal’s character Harry has Rob Reiner’s views after his divorce. Even though Reiner and Crystal were friends, the role of Harry was turned down by Tom Hanks and Harrison Ford before Billy Crystal accepted the part.|
After a documentary style introduction of older couples explaining how they fell in love, Harry and Sally start the movie as two college students sharing a car ride from Chicago to New York. In vintage romantic comedy style, their polarized personalities and opposite viewpoints are sure to bring them together. As strangers in New York they should be friends, but Harry’s viewpoint is that sex can get in the way of friendship. And so begins the seesaw of their relationship.
Both Sally and Harry fall in and out of relationships over the years, consoling each other, or rubbing each other the wrong way. Yet romance is always a magnet that seems to be their fate. One of the best remembered scenes in the movie (a spoiler alert for those who haven’t seen the movie) is the scene filmed at the Katz’s Deli where Harry and Sally meet and discuss relationships in their “friends” period. Sally was appalled at Harry’s casual sexual habits with women, implying that the women he dated were “satisfied.” Sally tells him that women fake orgasms frequently, and since he disbelieves her, she acts one out on the spot, to the shock of Harry and some deli customers. A woman at the next table, when asked by the waiter what she’ll have, says, “I want what she’s having.” The actress who spoke the lines was Rob Reiner’s mother Estelle. Billy Crystal had come up with the line, and it was Meg Ryan that suggested acting out the fake orgasm.
In classic romantic comedy mode, the rockier the road the sweeter the ending. When Harry Met Sally makes the case and is well worth watching for the first or second time.
Nominated for Best Writing – Screenplay Oscar and multiple Golden Globes.
|Christian Esquevin is a member of the Coronado Island Film Festival Board of Directors, an avid film aficionado, and the creator of the blog Silver Screen Modes which focuses on the fashions and films of classic Hollywood. He is also the author and researcher for a stunning tabletop book Adrian: Silver Screen to Custom Labelon fashion designer and icon, Gilbert Adrian, the chief fashion designer for MGM studios from 1928 to 1941.|