When Harry Met Sally…

Bottom Line: Classic, honest, funny rom-com.

“I’ll have what she’s having.” –Estelle Reiner as an old woman customer

Directed by: Rob Reiner
Starring: Billy Crystal, Bruno Kirby, Carrie Fisher, David Burdick, Gretchen Palmer, Lisa Jane Persky, Meg Ryan, Michelle Nicastro, Robert Alan Beuth, Steven Ford

Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) and Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) first meet in 1977 on a car ride home to New York City. Though Harry finds Sally very attractive, they don’t want to have a relationship, and they are afraid to be just friends, due to a philosophy Harry has about men-women friendships. The story chronicles their parallel lives a little over ten years, as their relationship subtly grows.

The 1980s must have been director Rob Reiner’s era. Out of the five films he directed, four of them are titles that are deemed unforgettable classics to most people who have seen them. Although Reiner is credited as the director, WHEN HARRY MET SALLY… deserves much more credit to Nora Ephron (R.I.P.) and her script. Ephron forms every sentence to perfection. She has a fascination with the art of the awkward pause as well as with rambling sentences. Sally is the character guiltiest of the techniques. Whenever Harry is staring at her oddly, she asks, “What?”, in a confused tone. She also loves to order very, very precise meals. Harry also falls under the trap of spewing sentences that grow tangential when trying to express how he feels toward Sally. The quirky characters not only make the comedy more funny, they make the slightly predictable tale more authentic. It’s like ANNIE HALL, except with a different sense of humor.

“AND I’m gonna be forty.” –Meg Ryan as Sally Albright
“When?” –Billy Crystal as Harry Burns
“Someday.” –Meg Ryan as Sally Albright

WHEN HARRY MET SALLY… is anomalous to the romance genre. Rarely do we see such a film that covers as much as an entire decade of a relationship. We rarely see a romance that spans more than a year. Unlike in many romances, we really get to know and understand Harry and Sally. The story begins rather quickly, but that’s so that they may be introduced as quickly as possible. By the end we feel as if we actually know them personally, even though neither one of them are the most likeable characters. (There isn’t one character in this movie I’d want to meet, to tell you the truth.) In short, this isn’t just a funny movie–I’m sorry, a very funny movie–but also an honest movie.

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13 thoughts on “When Harry Met Sally…

    • I saw Julie & Julia in theaters when it first came out (my sort of belated first PG-13 rated movie in theaters), and I love it for what it is. I’ve seen it at least twice, in fact, and it’s that one work that makes me sad Nora Ephron couldn’t create any films after that. However, when I look back at her classics, I’d say my favorite (thus far) is Harry and Sally. I find it amusing that my grandparents seem to mistake Ephron for Woody Allen, yet Harry and Sally seems pretty similar to Annie Hall.

      • I can definitely see some similarities in their work. Although Ephron was sweeter and Allen’s more sarcastic.

        Julie & Julia is, pardon the pun, a delicious movie. Very sweet, warm, expertyly written and acted. Just satisfying. I wonder how many Julie & Julias Ephron had in store.

    • Thanks! I wished Nora Ephron hadn’t died. I’ll always remember Julie & Julia as the first PG-13 rated movie I ever saw in theaters, and I loved it, even though I happened to be the only male under the age of 30 in the theater. I was eleven. I just wish she had lived long enough to write, produce, or even direct at least one more film. Still have to see Sleepless in Seattle, her other film that’s gotten endless praise.

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