Favorite things about… When Harry Met Sally

The favorite film:

(Image via Magicol Media)
(Image via Magicol Media)

When Harry Met Sally…, a 1989 romantic comedy directed by Rob Reiner and written by Nora Ephron

The synopsis:

Harry needs a ride to New York after graduating from the University of Chicago, and he hitches one with a girl named Sally. The two don’t exactly become fast friends, but as their lives progress, they find themselves running into each other now and then, and a friendship finally blooms about ten years later. But can their friendship last, or will it be ruined when the two find themselves attracted to each other, as Harry theorized on their road trip from Chicago to New York?

The cast:

Billy Crystal as Harry Burns

Meg Ryan as Sally Albright

Carrie Fisher as Marie

Steven Ford as Joe

Bruno Kirby as Jess

(etc.)

(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

Fun facts:

  • Albert Brooks was considered for the role of Harry.  Molly Ringwald, Susan Dey, Elizabeth McGovern and Elizabeth Perkins were considered for the role of Sally.
  • Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan each proposed small changes to their characters/the script that made it into the film. Nora Ephron frequently credited the infamous Katz’s Deli scene to Meg Ryan.
  • Sally’s picky eating was added to the film by Rob Reiner after he saw Nora Ephron order her food in a very specific way.
  • “I’ll have what she’s having” is the only quote on AFI’s Best 100 Movie Quotes list that is not spoken by a professional actor. The line is delivered by Rob Reiner’s mom, and it’s her only line. It appears at #33 on the list.
  • Though actors told the stories, the “how we met” interjections from married couples were based on real stories collected by Rob Reiner and Nora Ephron.
  • About 10 titles were considered for the film, and Nora Ephron was never completely satisfied with the final title, though she was happy with the film on the whole.
  • The script originally ended with Harry and Sally deciding not to pursue a romantic relationship.
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

Favorite things/quotes:

  • The scenes with long-married couples describing how they met
  • The soundtrack
  • Harry: “When I buy a new book, I always 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 and Sally arguing over the ending of Casablanca
  • Sally: “Well, I guess we’re not gonna be friends, then. That’s too bad… ’cause you were the only person that I knew in New York.”
  • Sally: “Don’t get involved with me, Joe. I am twenty-six years old and I can’t even remember the name of the girl I was such good friends with I wouldn’t get involved with her boyfriend!”
  • Harry and Sally’s conversation on the plane about why or why not to take your significant other to the airport
  • Marie’s little portable catalog of single men
  • Sally: “What are you saying, I should get married to someone right away in case he’s about to die?”
  • Harry staring at Sally from behind the bookshelf
  • Harry reading Stephen King!
  • Split-screen Casablanca watch-along!
  • Harry: “Best last line of a movie ever.” (As Casablanca ends) (And the fact that this scene comes at the beginning of Harry & Sally’s own “beautiful friendship”)
  • Pecannn piiiiiiiiie
  • The montage of New York in winter + the New Year’s Eve party
  • Jess and Marie ditching Harry and Sally on the double date to run off with each other, even though Jess was supposed to be on a date with Sally and Marie with Harry
  • Sally: “What? It’s my voice, isn’t it? You hate my voice!”
  • Harry: “In a city of 8 million people, you’re bound to run into your ex-wife.”
  • Harry’s apology to Sally after accusing her of not being over Joe
  • All of the wrong guesses for “baby talk”
  • Sally: “All this time I’ve been saying that he didn’t want to get married, but the truth is, he didn’t want to marry me.”
  • I AM SUCH A SALLY. She has all of her video tapes alphabetized and cataloged.
  • The triple split screen with Harry, Jess and Marie, and Sally all on the phone with each other
  • Sally: “Is one of us supposed to be a DOG in this scenario?”
  • Sally dragging the Christmas tree down the street by herself
  • Harry singing to Sally’s answering machine
  • Harry running through the streets while “It Had to Be You” plays
  • 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 a 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’s rant about Auld Lang Syne
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
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12 thoughts on “Favorite things about… When Harry Met Sally

  1. One of my guilty pleasures! Nora Ephron’s script is just perfect. If you haven’t read any of her work I highly recommend I Feel Bad About My Neck and I Remember Nothing.

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    1. Me too! I hadn’t seen it in quite a while before re-watching it for the “Favorite things” series. Seeing it again reminded me of just how much I love it. :)

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  2. When Harry Met Sally was the movie where I fell in love With Meg Ryan. I watched it on a date and apparently kept moaning and gasping so much when she would do something… roll her eyes, deliver a line, laugh… my date eventually elbowed me in the ribs and was quite irritated. No second date for us, but my love for Meg Ryan movies endures to this day.

    I did enjoy your favourite things/quotes, and this script is so beautifully written, I can only imagine since Nora left us that she’s bringing that much more joy to those in heaven.

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  3. I’m not sure how many times I’ve seen this movie (including at the theatre when it was released in 1989), but probably enough to be on my top 10 all-time list. I’d say we have the same favorites, but then how can we not when just about every minute of the film contains a favorite scene or line as far as I’m concerned. And yes, Nora was the best!

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