Taglines: Can two friends sleep together and still love each other in the morning?
Harry and Sally meet when she gives him a ride to New York after they both graduate from the University of Chicago. The film jumps through their lives as they both search for love, but fail, bumping into each other time and time again. Finally a close friendship blooms between them, and they both like having a friend of the opposite sex. But then they are confronted with the problem: “Can a man and a woman be friends, without sex getting in the way?”
When Harry Met Sally… is a 1989 American romantic comedy film written by Nora Ephron and directed by Rob Reiner. It stars Billy Crystal as Harry and Meg Ryan as Sally. The story follows the title characters from the time they meet just before sharing a cross-country drive, through twelve years or so of chance encounters in New York City. The film raises the question “Can men and women ever just be friends?” and advances many ideas about relationships that became household concepts, such as “high-maintenance” and the “transitional person”.
The origins of the film were derived from Reiner’s return to single life after a divorce. An interview Ephron conducted with Reiner provided the basis for Harry. Sally was based on Ephron and some of her friends. Crystal came on board and made his own contributions to the screenplay, making Harry funnier. Ephron supplied the structure of the film with much of the dialogue based on the real-life friendship between Reiner and Crystal. The soundtrack consists of standards performed by Harry Connick Jr., with a big band and orchestra arranged by Marc Shaiman. Connick won his first Grammy Award for Best Jazz Male Vocal Performance.
Columbia Pictures released the film using the “platform” technique, which involved opening it in a few select cities, letting positive word of mouth generate interest, and then gradually expanding distribution over subsequent weeks. When Harry Met Sally… grossed a total of US$92.8 million in North America. Ephron received a British Academy Film Award, an Oscar nomination, and a Writers Guild of America Award nomination for her screenplay. The film is ranked 23rd on AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Laughs list of the top comedy films in American cinema and number 60 on Bravo’s “100 Funniest Movies”. In early 2004, the film was adapted for the stage in a production starring Luke Perry and Alyson Hannigan.
About Deli Scene
In a scene featuring the two title characters having lunch at Katz’s Delicatessen in Manhattan, the couple are arguing about a man’s ability to recognize when a woman is faking an orgasm. Sally claims that men cannot tell the difference, and to prove her point, she vividly (fully clothed) fakes one as other diners watch. The scene ends with Sally casually returning to her meal as a nearby patron (played by Reiner’s mother) places her order: “I’ll have what she’s having.” When Estelle Reiner died at age 94 in 2008, The New York Times referred to her as the woman “who delivered one of the most memorably funny lines in movie history”. This scene was shot again and again, and Ryan demonstrated her fake orgasms for hours. Katz’s Deli still hangs a sign above the table that says, “Where Harry met Sally… hope you have what she had!”
This classic scene was born when the film started to focus too much on Harry. Crystal remembers saying, “‘We need something for Sally to talk about,’ and Nora said, ‘Well, faking orgasm is a great one,’ and right away we said, ‘Well, the subject is good,’ and then Meg came on board and we talked with her about the nature of the idea and she said, ‘Well, why don’t I just fake one, just do one?’ Ryan suggested that the scene take place in a restaurant, and it was Crystal who came up with the scene’s classic punchline – “I’ll have what she’s having.” In 2005, the quote was listed 33rd on the AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Movie Quotes list of memorable movie lines. Reiner recalls that at a test screening, all of the women in the audience were laughing while all of the men were silent.
In late 2013, Improv Everywhere, the New York City initiative behind the annual No Pants Day in the subways and various flash-mob stunts, convened and filmed a re-enactment. While a look-alike couple performed the scene, 30 others joined as if it was contagious. Surprised staff and customers responded in appreciation. The film and follow-up interviews are public. In October of the same year, Katz Delicatessen invited Baron Von Fancy to display his ten-foot high mural quoting the famous line in its pop-up gallery next door, The Space.
When Harry Met Sally… (1989)
Directed by: Rob Reiner
Starring: Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, Carrie Fisher, Bruno Kirby, Steven Ford, Lisa Jane Persky, Michelle Nicastro, Gretchen Palmer, Harley Jane Kozak, David Burdick
Screenplay by: Nora Ephron
Production Design by: Jane Musky
Cinematography by: Barry Sonnenfeld
Film Editing by: Robert Leighton
Costume Design by: Gloria Gresham
Set Decoration by: George R. Nelson, Sabrina Wright-Gilliar
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Release Date: July 14, 1989