When Harry Met Sally is a timeless romantic comedy that questions whether men and women can truly be friends, without romantic involvement. Directed by Rob Reiner and written by Nora Ephron, this classic film is a hilarious and insightful take on love, friendship, and everything in between.
The story begins in 1977, when Harry Burns (played by Billy Crystal) and Sally Albright (played by Meg Ryan), share a car ride from Chicago to New York City together after graduating from the University of Chicago. During their road trip, they engage in heated conversations about love, relationships, and the possibility of platonic friendships between men and women. When they arrive in New York, the two realize they don’t have much in common, nor do they particularly like each other, and part ways.
As Harry and Sally cross paths over the years, once in an airport with Sally’s boyfriend by her side and another, in a bookstore, their relationship evolves, reflecting the changing dynamics of their personal and professional lives. Harry, emerging as a political consultant, and Sally, pursuing her career as a journalist, find themselves continually drawn to each other amidst the backdrop of New York City.
The impeccable casting of Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, played a crucial role in the success and longevity of When Harry Met Sally. Crystal’s portrayal of Harry, a witty yet cynical character, contrasts perfectly with Ryan’s role as Sally, a vivacious and optimistic woman. The two actors share an undeniable chemistry on screen, making their evolving relationship feel genuine and relatable.
The supporting cast includes memorable performances by Carrie Fisher, as Sally’s best friend Marie, and Bruno Kirby, as Harry’s close friend, Jess. Eventually, these two couple up, still as Harry and Sally’s respective best friends, and hilarity ensues. Together, the four of them make up quite the ensemble cast.
The Director: Rob Reiner
Director Rob Reiner has an impressive filmography, including classics like Stand by Me and A Few Good Men. But in this romantic comedy, Reiner masterfully balances humor and emotion, gently guiding the audience through Harry and Sally’s friendship. His collaboration with writer Nora Ephron on the script, results in a film that’s both witty and heartwarming.
Behind the Scenes
One of the most famous scenes in the film is Sally’s faked orgasm at Katz’s Deli, was actually suggested by Meg Ryan herself during a rehearsal. The diner scene has since become one of the most iconic moments in film history, with the famous line, “I’ll have what she’s having,” delivered by Estelle Reiner, Rob Reiner’s actual mother.
Another interesting behind-the-scenes fact is that the interviews with couples interspersed throughout the film are based on real stories collected by Nora Ephron, who then wrote fictionalized versions of their accounts for the movie.
The Connection Between Harry and Sally
The evolving relationship between Harry and Sally is the focal point of the film. Their initial disagreement over whether men and women can be friends without romance sets the stage for their subsequent encounters. As they navigate their own romance, they develop a deep friendship, sharing their fears, joys, and aspirations. Harry and Sally mature over the course of the movie, learning from their experiences and allowing their connection and intimacy to deepen.
The Perfect Ending
In the climactic New Year’s Eve scene of When Harry Met Sally, the plot thickens. Sally is seen celebrating at a New Year’s Eve party amongst a crowd, yet her mind is preoccupied with her recent fallout with Harry. The atmosphere is vibrant, but Sally is visibly detached, reflecting the she feels despite the celebratory environment around her.
Harry, in a moment of epiphany, rushes through the streets of New York City to reach her. His urgent need to see Sally on this symbolic night underscores the depth of his feelings. Upon his arrival, he delivers a heartfelt and impromptu speech to Sally, a monologue that has since become synonymous with rom-coms.
In his speech, Harry articulates every reason he loves Sally, listing the small, idiosyncratic details about her that he has come to cherish. This includes her quirks, like how she orders at restaurants and her peculiar habits. His words are sincere and personal, moving beyond generic declarations of love to acknowledge the unique aspects of Sally that he adores.
This dialogue is significant not only for its content but for its timing. It occurs at the stroke of midnight, a moment traditionally associated with new beginnings and resolutions. Harry’s choice to confess his love at this instant symbolizes a new chapter in their meaningful relationship, one where they can no longer deny their feelings for each other. Harry and Sally finally become lovers.
The Chemistry: Harry and Sally’s Unforgettable Bond
The on-screen chemistry between Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan is undoubtedly one of the main reasons for the film’s long-lasting appeal. The duo’s on screen interactions and relatable love story make Harry and Sally one of the most beloved couples in cinematic history.
The Soundtrack and Harry Connick Jr.
With its collection of jazz standards and original compositions by Harry Connick Jr., the soundtrack serves as the perfect accompaniment to the film’s love story. Songs like “It Had to Be You,” “Where or When,” and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” evoke a sense of nostalgia, reflecting the timeless nature of the film. Harry Connick Jr.’s contribution to the soundtrack earned him a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Male Vocal Performance in 1990.
When Harry Met Sally is a heartfelt story and a must-see film for anyone who loves a good romantic comedy. Whether you’re watching it for the first time or the hundredth, When Harry Met Sally is arguably one of the best romantic comedies of its time.