When Harry Met Sally (1989) is one of my most favorite movie of all time, and there are times at my life when I feel like a character straight out of the movie script… The writer of that movie script, brilliant Nora Ephron is no more… May she rest in peace…
Nora Ephron (May 19, 1941 – June 26, 2012)
Hollywood filmmaker, director, producer, screenwriter, novelist, playwright, journalist, author, and blogger.
Nora is best known for her romantic comedies and was a triple nominee for the Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay for three films: Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally… and Sleepless in Seattle. She also co-authored the Drama Desk Award-winning theatrical production, Love, Loss, and What I Wore.
Harry Met Sally was is like an unforgettable experience for me. I dont remember how many times I have watched the movie, I can still get glued to the screen if I see it coming on any of the television movie channels…from the start, in the middle or even if its already reaching the end, I can watch it from anywhere till the end.
Some of the dialogues from the movie are like my own favorite words, when I saw it first time it was like the characters are saying my words in this movie… Sample these witty conversations from the movie.
- Harry: You realize of course that we could never be friends.
- Sally: Why not?
- Harry: What I’m saying is — and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form — is that men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.
- Sally: That’s not true. I have a number of men friends and there is no sex involved.
- Harry: No you don’t.
- Sally: Yes I do.
- Harry: No you don’t.
- Sally: Yes I do.
- Harry: You only think you do.
- Sally: You say I’m having sex with these men without my knowledge?
- Harry: No, what I’m saying is they all want to have sex with you.
- Sally: They do not.
- Harry: Do too.
- Sally: They do not.
- Harry: Do too.
- Sally: How do you know?
- Harry: Because no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.
- Sally: So you’re saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?
- Harry: No, you pretty much want to nail ’em too.
- Sally: What if they don’t want to have sex with you?
- Harry: Doesn’t matter because the sex thing is already out there so the friendship is ultimately doomed and that is the end of the story.
- Sally: Well, I guess we’re not going to be friends then.
- Harry: Guess not.
- Sally: That’s too bad. You were the only person that I knew in New York.
- Harry: You know you just get to a certain point where you get tired of the whole thing.
- Sally: What “whole thing”?
- Harry: The whole life-of-a-single-guy thing. You meet someone, you have the safe lunch, you decide you like each other enough to move on to dinner. You go dancing, you do the white-man’s over-bite, go back to her place, you have sex and the minute you’re finished you know what goes through your mind? How long do I have to lie here and hold her before I can get up and go home. Is thirty seconds enough?
- Sally: That’s what you’re thinking? Is that true?
- Harry: Sure! All men think that. How long do you want to be held afterwards? All night, right? See there’s your problem, somewhere between thirty seconds and all night is your problem.
- Sally: I don’t have a problem!
- Harry: Yeah you do.
- Harry: Would you like to have dinner? …Just friends.
- Sally: I thought you didn’t believe men and women could be friends.
- Harry: When did I say that?
- Sally: On the ride to New York.
- Harry: No, no, no, no, I never said that… Yes, that’s right, they can’t be friends. Unless both of them are involved with other people, then they can… This is an amendment to the earlier rule. If the two people are in relationships, the pressure of possible involvement is lifted… That doesn’t work either, because what happens then is, the person you’re involved with can’t understand why you need to be friends with the person you’re just friends with. Like it means something is missing from the relationship and why do you have to go outside to get it? And when you say “No, no, no, no, it’s not true, nothing is missing from the relationship,” the person you’re involved with then accuses you of being secretly attracted to the person you’re just friends with, which you probably are. I mean, come on, who the hell are we kidding, let’s face it. Which brings us back to the earlier rule before the amendment, which is men and women can’t be friends.
- Jess: I don’t understand this relationship.
- Harry: What do you mean?
- Jess: You enjoy being with her?
- Harry: Yeah.
- Jess: You find her attractive?
- Harry: Yeah.
- Jess: And you’re not sleeping with her.
- Harry: No.
- Jess: You’re afraid to let yourself be happy.
- Harry: Why can’t you give me credit for this? This is a big thing for me. I never had a relationship with a woman that didn’t involve sex. I feel like I’m growing.
- Harry: It’s very freeing. I can say anything to her.
- Jess: Are you saying you can say things to her you can’t say to me?
- Harry: Nah, it’s just different. It’s a whole new perspective. I get the woman’s point of view on things. She tells me about the men she goes out with and I can talk to her about the women that I see.
- Jess: You tell her about other women.
- Harry: Yeah. Like the other night. I made love to this woman, and it was so incredible, I took her to a place that wasn’t human, she actually meowed.
- Jess: You made a woman meow?
- Harry: 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’m not always thinking about how to get her into bed. I can just be myself.
- Jess: You made a woman meow?
- Harry: I think they have an OK time.
- Sally: How do you know?
- Harry: What do you mean how do I know? I know.
- Sally: Because they…
- Harry: Yes, because they…
- Sally: And how do you know that they really…
- Harry: What are you saying, that they fake orgasm?
- Sally: It’s possible.
- Harry: Get outta here!
- Sally: Why? Most women at one time or another have faked it.
- Harry: Well they haven’t faked it with me.
- Sally: How do you know?
- Harry: Because I know.
- Sally: Oh, right, that’s right, I forgot, you’re a man.
- Harry: What is that supposed to mean?
- Sally: Nothing. It’s just that all men are sure it never happened to them and that most women at one time or another have done it so you do the math.
- Harry: You don’t think that I could tell the difference?
- Sally: No.
- Harry: Get outta here.
- [Sally begins to fake an orgasm]
- Harry: Are you OK?
- [Sally continues very audibly, attracting the attention of nearly every customer in the cafe. Afterwards, she returns to eating her dessert]
- Older Woman Customer: [to waiter] I’ll have what she’s having.
- (Note: the bolded line is ranked #33 in the American Film Institute’s list of the top 100 movie quotations in American cinema.)
- Sally: I don’t have to take this crap from you.
- Harry: If you’re so over Joe, why aren’t you seeing anyone?
- Sally: I see people.
- Harry: See people? Have you slept with one person since you broke up with Joe?
- Sally: What the hell does that have to do with anything? That will prove I’m over Joe? Because I fuck somebody? Harry, you’re gonna have to move back to New Jersey because you’ve slept with everybody in New York and I don’t see that turning Helen into a faint memory for you. Besides, I will make love to somebody when it is making love. Not the way you do it like you’re out for revenge or something.
- Harry: Are you finished now?
- Sally: Yes.
- Harry: Can I say something?
- Sally: Yes.
- Harry: I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
- Harry: Why can’t we get past this? I mean, are we gonna carry this thing around forever?
- Sally: Forever? It just happened.
- Harry: It happened three weeks ago. You know how a year to a person is like seven years to a dog?
- Sally: Yes. Is one of us supposed to be a dog in this scenario?
- Harry: Yes.
- Sally: Who is the dog?
- Harry: You are.
- Sally: I am? I am the dog? I am the dog?
- Harry: Um-hmm.
- Sally: I am the dog. I-I don’t see that Harry. If anybody is the dog, you are the dog. You want to act like what happened didn’t mean anything.
- Harry: I’m not saying it didn’t mean anything. I am saying why does it have to mean everything?
- Sally: Because it does, and you should know that better than anybody because the minute that it happens, you walk right out the door.
- Harry: I didn’t walk out.
- Sally: No, sprinted is more like it.
- Harry: We both agreed it was a mistake.
- Sally: The worst mistake I’ve ever made.
- Harry: What do you want from me?
- Sally: I don’t want anything from you!
- Harry: Fine. Fine, but let’s just get one thing straight. I did not go over there that night to make love to you, that is not why I went there. But you looked up at me with these big weepy eyes, don’t go home night Harry, hold me a little longer Harry. What was I supposed to do?
- Sally: What are you saying, you took pity on me?
- Harry: No, I was…
- Sally: Fuck you! [slaps Harry]
- Harry: I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, and the thing is, I love you.
- Sally: What?
- Harry: I love you.
- Sally: How do you expect me to respond to this?
- Harry: How about, you love me too?
- Sally: How about, I’m leaving?
- Harry: Doesn’t what I said mean anything to you?
- Sally: I’m sorry, Harry. I know it’s New Year’s Eve. I know you’re feeling lonely, but you just can’t show up here, tell me you love me, and expect that to make everything all right. It doesn’t work this way.
- Harry: Well, how does it work?
- Sally: I don’t know, but not this way.
- Harry: How about this way? 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.
- Sally: You see? That is just like you, Harry. You say things like that, and you make it impossible for me to hate you, and I hate you, Harry. I really hate you. I hate you.
- [They kiss]
- Harry: There are two kinds of women: high maintenance and low maintenance.
- Sally: Which one am I?
- Harry: You’re the worst kind; you’re high maintenance but you think you’re low maintenance.
- Sally: I don’t see that.
- Harry: You don’t see that? Waiter, I’ll begin with a house salad, but I don’t want the regular dressing. I’ll have the balsamic vinegar and oil, but on the side. And then the salmon with the mustard sauce, but I want the mustard sauce on the side. “On the side” is a very big thing for you.
- Sally: Well, I just want it the way I want it.
- Harry: I know; high maintenance.
About Nora Ephron
On June 26, 2012, at the age of 71, Ephron died from pneumonia, a complication resulting from acute myeloid leukemia, a condition with which she was diagnosed in 2006. In her most recent book, “I Remember Nothing” (2010), Ephron left clues that something was wrong or that she was sick. Ephron was born on May 19, 1941, in the Manhattan borough of New York City. She was the daughter of Phoebe (née Wolkind) and Henry Ephron. Her parents were both screenwriters, born and raised on the US East coast. Ephron was the eldest of four daughters in a Jewish family. When she was four years old, the family moved to Beverly Hills, California, remaining there through her adulthood.
Ephron’s sisters Delia and Amy are also screenwriters. Her sister Hallie Ephron is a journalist, book reviewer, and novelist who writes crime fiction. Ephron’s parents based Sandra Dee’s character in the play and the Jimmy Stewart film Take Her, She’s Mine on their 22-year-old daughter Nora and her letters to them from college. Both parents became alcoholics during their declining years. Ephron graduated from Beverly Hills High School in 1958. It was during her junior year there that she became interested in journalism. She majored in political science and wrote for the weekly newspaper at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, from which she graduated in 1962.
She worked briefly as an intern in the White House of President John F. Kennedy. After she graduated from Wellesley, she moved to New York and became a “mail girl” at Newsweek. She held that position for a year. When New York City’s newspapers suspended publication during a strike by the International Typographical Union, Ephron and some of her friends, including the young Calvin Trillin, put out their own satirical newspaper. Ephron’s parodies of New York Post columnists caught the eye of the Post’s publisher, Dorothy Schiff. When the strike was over, Schiff hired Ephron as a reporter. The 1960s were a lively time for journalism in New York and Dorothy Schiff’s Post, at that time a liberal-leaning afternoon tabloid, offered Ephron a free hand to explore her favorite city from top to bottom.
In 1966, she broke the news in the Post that Bob Dylan had married Sara Lownds in a private ceremony three-and-a-half months earlier. While working at the Post, Ephron also began writing occasional essays for publications such as New York magazine, Esquire and The New York Times Magazine. Her work as a reporter won acclaim as part of the “New Journalism” movement of the 1960s, in which the author’s personal voice became part of the story. Her humorous 1972 essay, “A Few Words About Breasts,” made her name as an essayist. As a regular columnist for Esquire, and she became one of America’s best-known humorists. Her essays, often focusing on sex, food and New York City, were collected in a series of best-selling volumes, Wallflower at the Orgy, Crazy Salad, and Scribble Scribble.
In this position, Ephron made a name for herself by taking on subjects as wide-ranging as Dorothy Schiff, her former boss and owner of the Post; Betty Friedan, whom she chastised for pursuing a feud with Gloria Steinem; and her alma mater Wellesley, which she said had turned out a generation of “docile” women. A 1968 send-up of Women’s Wear Daily in Cosmopolitan resulted in threats of a lawsuit from WWD.
While married to Bernstein in the mid-1970s, at her husband and Bob Woodward’s request she helped Bernstein re-write William Goldman’s script for All the President’s Men, because the two journalists were not happy with it. The Ephron-Bernstein script was not used in the end, but was seen by someone who offered Ephron her first screenwriting job, for a television movie.
Ephron enjoyed her greatest writing success with When Harry Met Sally (1989), a romantic comedy directed by Rob Reiner, starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. The film struck an instant chord with audiences and became an international hit.
Ephron had seen her parents’ writing careers falter in the 1950s, as they both fell prey to alcohol and the fickle fashions of Hollywood. Ephron contemplated a transition to directing, in part to protect her own writing career in an industry still largely inhospitable to films by or about women. Unfortunately, This Is My Life (1992), her directing debut, about the struggles of a single mother working as a stand-up comic, was a box office disappointment. Ephron knew her future as a director would stand or fall with her next assignment.
Sleepless in Seattle (1993) was co-written by Nora Ephron and her younger sister, Delia. Director Nora cast Harry and Sally star Meg Ryan, teaming her with Tom Hanks. The resulting film was an enormous success, and Ephron was now established as Hollywood’s foremost creator of romantic comedies.
A follow-up film, Mixed Nuts (1994), was a commercial disappointment, but Michael (1996), starring John Travolta as an angel, enjoyed solid success at the box office.
In You’ve Got Mail (1998), Ephron re-united Sleepless stars Hanks and Ryan in a contemporary variation on the classic comedy, The Shop Around the Corner (1940). Ephron’s film also serves as a love letter to her beloved Upper West Side. With You’ve Got Mail, the team of Ephron, Ryan and Hanks scored another huge success.
In the following years, Ephron pursued a wide variety of projects. She made an unexpected foray into writing for the stage with her 2002 play Imaginary Friends, based on the turbulent rivalry of authors Lillian Hellman and Mary McCarthy. She coauthored the play Love, Loss, and What I Wore (based on the book by Ilene Beckerman) with her sister, Delia and it has played to sold out audiences in Canada, New York City, and The Geffen Playhouse in California. She took another unusual tack with an offbeat big-screen adaptation of the 1960s television series Bewitched, starring Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell. Her 2006 collection of essays, I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Reflections on Being a Woman, immediately shot to number one on the New York Times best-seller list.
In her film Julie and Julia, she returned to a favorite subject — food — by telling the parallel stories of famed food writer Julia Child and a contemporary Manhattan woman who sets out to cook her way through every recipe in Childs’s classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The 2009 film starred Ephron’s friend and previous collaborator, Meryl Streep, as Julia Child. In addition to her books, plays and movies, Ephron wrote a regular blog for the online news site The Huffington Post.
Her 2010 collection of essays, I Remember Nothing, takes a humorous look at the aging process and other topics. In 1994, she was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award.
‘When Harry Met Sally’
- 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
- Franc Luz as Julian
- Estelle Reiner as Older Woman Customer
The movie is framed with stories of elderly couples telling stories about their relationships. Several stories are told throughout the movie. The story begins in 1977. Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) and Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) finish college at the University of Chicago and meet when both need someone to share a drive to New York City, where Sally is beginning journalism school and Harry is presumably starting a career; at the time, Harry is dating a friend of Sally’s, Amanda (Michelle Nicastro).
The film’s underlying theme arises from their differing ideas about relationships between men and women which emerge during this journey. Harry evinces the view that “Men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way” … even with ones “he finds unattractive”. Sally disagrees, claiming that men and women can be strictly friends without sex. On the way, at a stop in a diner, Sally is angered when Harry tells her she is attractive; she accuses him of making a pass at her. In New York, due to their divergent philosophies, they part on less than friendly terms.
Five years later, they meet in a New York airport and find themselves on the same plane. Both are in relationships; Sally has just started dating a man named Joe – who happens to be an old friend of Harry’s – and Harry is engaged to a woman named Helen, which surprises Sally. Harry suggests they become friends, forcing him to elaborate on his previous rule about male-female friendships; they can never be friends because the sex part gets in the way. Despite Harry’s suggestions of exceptions to that rule, they separate concluding that they will not be friends.
Harry and Sally meet yet again five years later, in a New York bookstore. They have coffee together and talk about their previous relationships, which have ended. After leaving the café, they take a walk and decide to be friends. In subsequent scenes, they have late-night phone conversations, go to dinner, and spend a lot of time together. Their dating experiences with others continue to highlight their different approaches to relationships and sex.
During a New Year’s Eve party, Harry and Sally find themselves attracted to each other. Though they remain friends, they set each other up with their respective best friends, Marie (Carrie Fisher) and Jess (Bruno Kirby). The four go to a restaurant, where Marie and Jess hit it off; they later get engaged. One night, Sally tearfully tells Harry over the phone that her ex, Joe (Steven Ford), is getting married to his legal assistant, and he rushes to her apartment to comfort her. They unexpectedly have sex that night, resulting in an awkward moment the next morning as Harry quickly leaves in a state of distress. This creates tension in their relationship. Their friendship cools for three weeks until the two have a heated argument during Jess and Marie’s wedding dinner. Following this fight, Harry repeatedly attempts to mend his friendship with Sally.
Then, at a New Year’s Eve party that year, Sally feels alone without Harry by her side. Meanwhile, Harry is shown spending New Year’s alone. As she decides to leave the party early, Harry appears and declares his love for her; they make up and kiss.
The last segment in which couples discuss their relationship histories is an interview with Harry and Sally, talking about their wedding.
You’ve Got Mail
- Tom Hanks as Joe “NY152” Fox
- Meg Ryan as Kathleen “Shopgirl” Kelly
- Parker Posey as Patricia Eden
- Jean Stapleton as Birdie Conrad
- Greg Kinnear as Frank Navasky
- Steve Zahn as George Pappas
- Heather Burns as Christina Plutzker
- Dave Chappelle as Kevin Jackson
- Dabney Coleman as Nelson Fox
- John Randolph as Schuyler Fox
- Deborah Rush as Veronica Grant
- Hallee Hirsh as Annabel Fox
- Jeffrey Scaperrotta as Matthew Fox
- Cara Seymour as Gillian Quinn
- Peter Mian as “The Capeman”
- Sara Ramírez as Rose, Zabar’s cashier
- Jane Adams as Sydney Anne, TV talk show host
- Michael Badalucco as Charlie
- Veanne Cox as Miranda Margulies
Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) is involved with Frank Navasky (Greg Kinnear), a leftist postmodernist newspaper writer for the New York Observer who’s always in search of an opportunity to root for the underdog. While Frank is devoted to his typewriter, Kathleen prefers her laptop and logging into her AOL e-mail account.
There, using the screen name ‘Shopgirl’, she reads an e-mail from “NY152”, the screen name of Joe Fox (Tom Hanks). In her reading of the e-mail, she reveals the boundaries of the online relationship; no specifics, including no names, career or class information, or family connections. Joe belongs to the Fox family which runs Fox Books — a chain of “mega” bookstores similar to Borders or Barnes & Noble. Kathleen, on the other hand, runs the independent bookstore The Shop Around The Corner, that her mother ran before her.
The two then pass each other on their respective ways to work, where it is revealed that they frequent the same neighborhoods in upper west Manhattan. Joe arrives at work, overseeing the opening of a new Fox Books in New York with the help of his friend, branch manager Kevin (Dave Chappelle). Meanwhile, Kathleen and her three store assistants, George (Steve Zahn), Birdie (Jean Stapleton), and Christina (Heather Burns) open up shop for the day.
Following a day on the town with his eleven-year-old aunt Annabel (Hallee Hirsh) and four-year-old brother Matthew (Jeffrey Scaperrotta) (the children of his frequently divorced grandfather and father, respectively), Joe enters Kathleen’s store to let his younger relatives experience storytime. Joe and Kathleen have a friendly conversation that reveals Kathleen’s fears about the Fox Books store opening around the corner, shocking Joe. He introduces himself as “Joe. Just call me Joe,” omitting his last name, and makes an abrupt exit with the children. However, at a publishing party later in the week, Joe and Kathleen meet again, both of them being in the New York book business, where Kathleen discovers Joe’s true identity.
Following suggestions from Frank and Joe via “NY152” Kathleen begins a media war, including both a boycott of Fox Books and an interview on the local news. All the while, “NY152” and “Shopgirl” continue their courtship, to the point where “NY152” asks “Shopgirl” to meet. Too embarrassed to go alone, Joe brings Kevin along for moral support. He insists that “Shopgirl” may be the love of his life. Meanwhile Kevin, looking in a cafe window at the behest of Joe, discovers the true identity of “Shopgirl.” When Joe discovers that it is actually Kathleen behind the name, he confronts her as Joe (concealing his “NY152” alter ego – and feelings). The two exchange some bitter words and Joe leaves the cafe hurt, Kathleen returns home puzzled why NY152 might have stood her up.
Despite all efforts, The Shop Around the Corner slowly goes under. In a somber moment Kathleen enters Fox Books to discover the true nature of the store is one of friendliness and relaxation, yet without the same dedication to children’s books as her independent shop. Eventually, her employees move on to other jobs; as Christina goes job hunting, George gets a job at the children’s department at a Fox Books store (Joe later compares George’s knowledge of the contents of the department to a PhD) and Birdie, who is already wealthy from investments, retires.
Allowing time for their electronic relationship to convalesce, Joe visits Kathleen while she is sick, and for the first time makes a favorable impression. Joe discovers that Kathleen has broken up with Frank, who has moved in with a talk show host who interviewed him (Jane Adams). This was predated one week by Joe and his uptight girlfriend, Patricia (Parker Posey), who broke up in their apartment building while stuck in the elevator. Kathleen and Joe develop a tentative friendship that blossoms over the course of a few weeks and they begin to spend more time with one another.
During this time, Joe as “NY152” mysteriously postpones meeting Kathleen. Finally, “NY152” and “Shopgirl” agree to meet for the first time since “NY152” apparently stood her up. Joe and his dog Brinkley (the topic of numerous e-mails) meet Kathleen at Riverside Park. Kathleen admits that she had wanted “NY152” to be Joe so badly, and the two kiss.
- Nora Ephron: She Did It All With Style (deadline.com)
- RIP: Nora Ephron, at 71 (thedailywh.at)
- Billy Crystal, Nicole Kidman React To Nora Ephron’s Death (huffingtonpost.com)
- A Few Words About Nora Ephron (whennutmegmetbasil.com)
- Nora Ephron Is Dead (slog.thestranger.com)
- Nora Ephron Dead: ‘When Harry Met Sally’ Filmmaker Dies At 71 (news.moviefone.com)