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  • Writer's pictureThomas Duncan

When Harry Met Sally (1989) ft. Christine Duncan


What is this movie is about?/Elevator Pitch: Can Men and Women be platonic friends?


Plot Summary: Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) are two young people moving to New York City. They meet by chance on a road trip and become friends, but as they grow older and their lives take different paths, they struggle to maintain a close relationship. Despite their differences, they both long for true love and happiness. As they navigate the complexities of modern dating, they come to realize that they may have deeper feelings for each other. In the end, they must decide if they are willing to take a chance on a relationship or if they will always remain just friends.


Cast:

  • Billy Crystal as Harry Burns

  • Meg Ryan as Sally Albright

  • Carrie Fisher as Marie

  • Bruno Kirby as Jess

  • Steven Ford as Joe

  • Lisa Jane Persky as Alice

  • Michelle Nicastro as Amanda Reese

  • Kevin Rooney as Ira Stone

  • Harley Kozak as Helen Hillson

  • Estelle Reiner as Female Customer

*Recognition:

  • When Harry Met Sally premiered on July 14, 1989.

  • It went on to gross over $92 million despite going head to head with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Batman that summer which were the two biggest movies of 1989, and finish in 11th place for that year.

  • The film received one Oscar nomination for Original Screenplay for Nora Ephron.

  • The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

    • 2000: AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs – #23

    • 2002: AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions – #25

    • 2004: AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs:

      • "It Had to Be You" – #60

    • 2005: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:

      • Customer: "I'll have what she's having." – #33

    • 2008: AFI's 10 Top 10:

      • #6 Romantic Comedy Film

  • Just this year in 2022, When Harry Met Sally was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

  • When Harry Met Sally has a 91% rating on RT, a 76 score on Metacritic, and a 4 out of 5 on Letterboxd.

Did You Know:

  • Before deciding on the title, "When Harry Met Sally...," screenwriter Nora Ephron, producer Andrew Scheinman, and director Rob Reiner considered: "Just Friends," "Playing Melancholy Baby," "Boy Meets Girl," "Blue Moon," "Words of Love," "It Had To Be You," "Harry, This Is Sally," and "How They Met."

  • When posed the film's central question, can men and women just be friends, Meg Ryan replied, "Yes, men and women can just be friends. I have a lot of platonic (male) friends, and sex doesn't get in the way." Billy Crystal said, "I'm a little more optimistic than Harry. But I think it is difficult. Men basically act like stray dogs in front of a supermarket. I do have platonic (women) friends, but not best, best, best friends."

  • The segments of married couples telling the stories of how they met are real stories that director Rob Reiner collected for the film. Then they hired actors to relay the stories.

  • The orgasm scene was filmed at Katz's Deli, an actual restaurant on New York's E. Houston Street. The table at which the scene was filmed now has a plaque on it that reads, "Where Harry met Sally...hope you have what she had!"

  • According to writer Nora Ephron, the infamous "I'll have what she's having" line was actually suggested by Billy Crystal and credited Meg Ryan not only with the idea of faking an orgasm in the famous restaurant scene, but also with the idea of setting it in a restaurant in the first place.

  • The concept of Sally being a picky eater was based on the film's screenwriter, Nora Ephron. Years after the movie came out, when Ephron was on a plane and ordered something very precise, the stewardess looked at her and asked, "Have you ever seen the movie When Harry Met Sally?"

  • For the scene in which Sally calls Marie and Harry calls Jess at the same time, there were three separate sets. As Rob Reiner explains: "We had three different sets: [One] where Bruno and Carrie were; a separate set where Billy was; and a [third] set where Meg was. It was all on the same soundstage. It's almost like doing a recording in a studio. The phones were all hooked up to each other, because there are no cuts, if you notice.... If somebody makes a mistake - and it's a three- to four-page scene - you can't cover it. You can't cut away to anything. You have to do it over again." So how many times did they try to get it right? "We shot it 61 times! If you remember at the end, they each hang up their phone - boom, boom, boom boom - in rhythm. It took forever to get it right. We did one I think 54 in, and we did it: They hung up the phones perfectly. Then Bruno blew his last line. So we had to start over again!" It ultimately took sixty takes to nail.

  • The film is based on director Rob Reiner's experiences post-divorce and as a single man. Coincidentally, Reiner met his current wife during the making of this film.

  • Nora Ephron supplied the structure of the film with much of the dialogue based on the real-life friendship between Rob Reiner and Billy Crystal. For example, in the scene where Sally and Harry appear on a split screen, talking on the telephone while watching their respective television sets, channel surfing, was something that Crystal and Reiner did every night.

Best Performance: Meg Ryan (Sally)/Nora Ephron (Writer)

Best Secondary Performance: Rob Reiner (Director)/Billy Crystal (Harry)

Most Charismatic Award: Meg Ryan (Sally)/Billy Crystal (Harry)

Best Scene:

  • How We Met...Cutscenes

  • Road Trip

  • Airport Run-In

  • Friendship in Bloom

  • Getting Back Out There

  • "I'll Have What She's Having"

  • The Night Of

  • Four Way Call

  • NYE Party

  • Epilogue

Favorite Scene: Friendship in Bloom/Surrey with the Fringe on Top/How We Met...Cutscenes

Most Indelible Moment: "I'll Have What She's Having"


In Memorium:

  • Drew Griffin, 60, American investigative journalist (CNN). Emmy award winner for journalism who covered the Uber Sexual Assault Scandal, Trump University, Mike Lindell and the Big Lie, and the VA delays.

  • Jane Sherwin, 88, British actress (Doctor Who, Blake's 7) After leaving her acting career, Sherwin took on voluntary work for good causes. These included Amnesty International (being the Central America Co-ordinator for the British Section), Refugees and the Homeless.

  • Sonya Eddy, 55, American actress (General Hospital, Felecity, Fresh Off the Boat, Pen15, Seinfeld, Murphy Brown, ER, Patch Adams, and Matchstick Men).

Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

[after Sally fakes orgasm in a deli]

Older Woman Customer: [to waiter] I'll have what she's having.


Harry Burns: When I buy a new book, I read the last page first. That way, in case I die before I finish, I know how it ends. That, my friend, is a dark side.


Harry Burns: I love that you get cold when it's 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Year's Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.


Harry Burns: The fact that you're not answering leads me to believe you're either (a) not at home, (b) home but don't want to talk to me, or (c) home, desperately want to talk to me, but trapped under something heavy. If it's either (a) or (c), please call me back.


Marie: All I'm saying is that somewhere out there is the man you are supposed to marry. And if you don't get him first, somebody else will, and you'll have to spend the rest of your life knowing that somebody else is married to your husband.


Jess: Everybody, could I have your attention please? I'd like to propose a toast to Harry and Sally. To Harry and Sally, if Marie or I had found either of them remotely attractive, we would not be here today.


Jess: Marriages don't break up on account of infidelity. It's just a symptom that something else is wrong.

Harry Burns: Oh really? Well, that "symptom" is fucking my wife.


Harry Burns: [about Sally] I can say anything to her.

Jess: Are you saying you can say things to her you can't say to me?

Harry Burns: No, it's just different. It's a whole different perspective. I get the woman's point of view on things. She tells me about the men she desires and I can talk to her about the women that I see.

Jess: You tell her about other women?

Harry Burns: Yeah, like the other night, I made love to this woman. It was so incredible, I took her to a place that wasn't human. She actually meowed.

Jess: [surprised] You made a woman meow?

Harry Burns: Yeah, that's the point. I can say these things to her. And the great thing is, I don't have to lie, because I am not always thinking about how to get her into bed. I can just be myself.

Jess: You made a woman meow?


Sally Albright: But I'd like the pie heated, and I don't want the ice cream on top, I want it on the side, and I'd like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it. If not, then no ice cream, just whipped cream but only if it's real. If it's out of a can, then nothing.

Waitress: Not even the pie?

Sally Albright: No, just the pie, but then not heated.


Harry Burns: You take someone to the airport, it's clearly the beginning of the relationship. That's why I have never taken anyone to the airport at the beginning of a relationship.

Sally Albright: Why?

Harry Burns: Because eventually things move on and you don't take someone to the airport and I never wanted anyone to say to me "How come you never take me to the airport any more?"


Jess: No one has ever quoted me back to me before.


Harry Burns: There are two kinds of women: high maintenance and low maintenance.

Sally Albright: Which one am I?

Harry Burns: You're the worst kind; you're high maintenance but you think you're low maintenance.


Harry Burns: Had my dream again where I'm making love, and the Olympic judges are watching. I'd nailed the compulsories, so this is it, the finals. I got a 9.8 from the Canadians, a perfect 10 from the Americans, and my mother, disguised as an East German judge, gave me a 5.6. Must have been the dismount.


Sally Albright: You see? That is just like you, Harry. You say things like that, and you make it impossible for me to hate you.


Harry Burns: I've been doing a lot of thinking, and the thing is, I love you.


Harry Burns: Right now everything is great, everyone is happy, everyone is in love and that is wonderful. But you gotta know that sooner or later you're gonna be screaming at each other about who's gonna get this dish. This eight dollar dish will cost you a thousand dollars in phone calls to the legal firm of That's Mine, This Is Yours.

Sally: Harry.

Harry Burns: Please, Jess, Marie. Do me a favor, for your own good, put your name in your books right now before they get mixed up and you won't know whose is whose. 'Cause someday, believe it or not, you'll go 15 rounds over who's gonna get this coffee table. This stupid wagon wheel ROY ROGERS GARAGE SALE COFFEE TABLE!

Jess: I thought you liked it!

Harry Burns: I WAS BEING NICE!


Marie: Restaurants are to people in the 80's what theatres were to people in the 60's. I read that in a magazine.


Sally Albright: At least I got the apartment.

Harry Burns: That's what everyone says. But, really, what's so hard about finding an apartment? What you do is look in the obituary section. You see who died, find out where they lived, and tip the doorman. What they could do to make it easier is combine the two. You know, Mr. Kline died yesterday, leaving behind a wife, two children, and a spacious three bedroom apartment with a wood burning fireplace.


Harry Burns: The next New Year's Eve, if neither one of us is with anybody, you've got a date.


Harry Burns: With whom did you have this great sex?

Sally Albright: I'm not going to tell you that.

Harry Burns: Fine, don't tell me.

Sally Albright: Shel Gordon.

Harry Burns: Shel? Sheldon? No, no, you did not have great sex with Sheldon.

Sally Albright: I did too.

Harry Burns: No you didn't. A Sheldon can do your income taxes, if you need a root canal, Sheldon's your man... but humpin' and pumpin' is not Sheldon's strong suit. It's the name. 'Do it to me Sheldon, you're an animal Sheldon, ride me big Shel-don.' Doesn't work.


[Playing "Pictionary."]

Jess: "Baby talk"? That's not a saying.

Harry Burns: Oh, but "baby fish mouth" is sweeping the nation? I hear them talking.


The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 8.5

Impact/Significance: 7.83

Novelty: 8.66

Classic-ness: 8.66

Rewatchability: 9.17

Audience Score: 8.65 (84% Google, 89% RT)

Total: 51.47


Remaining Questions:

  • Did Harry make a pass at Sally on the original road trip?

  • Is Harry actually a creep?

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