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When Harry Met Sally... (1989)

Updated on July 15, 2010

It's hard to believe it's over 30 years since "When Harry Met Sally..." was released; I remember the first time I watched it like it was yesterday, from the iconic restaurant orgasm scene through to the opening music "It Had to Be You". Everything about it worked, from Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan's performances, Nora Ephron's writing and Rob Reiner's direction to make one of the most memorable romantic comedies to have hit the big screen since the beginning of the 80s.

Although having never really met Harry Burns (Billy Crystal - Forget Paris) and Sally Albright (Meg Ryan - Sleepless in Seattle) find themselves sharing a car as they travel from Chicago to New York, a not so pleasant journey as Harry and Sally have opposite opinions on pretty much everything in particular on friendship and relationships. Having gone there separate ways on reaching New York they once every few years bump into each other and with age opinions change as they not only become friends but also start to have feelings for each other.

It has to be said that the way "When Harry Met Sally..." comes across is both charming and clever. It covers an 11 year period in the lives of Harry and Sally but comes across like chapters in their life where they are going through a certain relationship issue and these chapters start with footage from interviews with older couples who briefly mention the issues they had during their relationship. So when we first meet Harry and Sally at there antagonistic best we get an intro from a couple who shared a similar start to their relationship. It works well because these interviews, which may be fake or maybe not, are both sweet and funny but also makes it feel strangely more believable.

But the cleverness is not just in the way the story is presented because rather than just being a fluffy, cutesy romantic comedy it's also surprisingly insightful as we follow the ups and downs of Harry and Sally's friendship. In that first meeting Harry explains to Sally how a man can not just be friends with an attractive woman because there will always be an element of sex and the thing is it's quite true. But it's the matter of fact way which Billy Crystal as Harry makes his point which makes it work, it's true but also funny and these moments, these clever insights into the mechanics of a relationship/ friendship works.

Of course "When Harry Met Sally..." is often remembered for one thing, the much copied orgasm scene in the restaurant but that is just one of many memorable and funny scenes. With Billy Crystal delivering quick fired wit in his own dead pan manner and Meg Ryan being both feisty and cute the movie is literally littered with funny observational moments. But at the same time it also features some really nice tender, romantic moments and wins you over as the once antagonistic relationship between Harry and Sally softens and turns into friendship and onto romance. It truly is a romantic comedy which does deliver both romance and comedy in equal measures.

Of course "When Harry Met Sally..." is very much Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan's movie and make a memorable pairing. But they are equally supported by the performances of Bruno Kirby and Carrie Fisher as their friends Jess and Marie, providing another insight into the way relationships work.

All in all "When Harry Met Sally..." is despite being over 30 years old such a wonderful movie. It delivers romance and comedy in a clever and insightful manner so it makes you laugh but makes you realise things about friendship and romance. Plus with Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan on great form it just wins you over no matter what mood you are in.


Title: When Harry Met Sally...
Year: 1989
Length: 96
Cert: 15
Director: Rob Reiner
Cast: Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, Carrie Fisher, Bruno Kirby, Steven Ford, Lisa Jane Persky


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    • Skaditch profile image

      Skaditch 7 years ago from Los Angeles

      I'll have what she's having.

    • Alison Graham profile image

      Alison Graham 7 years ago from UK

      I absolutely loved this film and your hub has prompted me to get it on DVD so I can watch it all over again! Thanks for a great hub (one picture not displaying though?) - voted up!