Directed by Rob Reiner, written by Nora Ephron, starring Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal, Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby, and photographed by — who knew? — Barry Sonnenfeld.
Harry Burns (Crystal) and Sally Albright (Ryan) share an awkward road trip from the University of Chicago to New York City. Virtual strangers at the beginning of the trip, they become less-than-fond acquaintances by the time they arrive. A series of coincidences or fate continues to re-introduce them to each other over the next 10 years. As their reluctant friendship grows, they face the age old question of whether or not a man and woman can be friends without sex getting in the way.
It’ll finish Tuesday,
AFTER THOUGHT from November 13, 2009
I loved this movie when I first saw it in college, until my classmate Preston pointed out that it’s like Woody Allen’s Greatest Hits, without Woody. Not long after Preston made me aware of this, Premiere magazine backed him up with a table/flowchart sorta comparison. They cited roughly a dozen scenes in WHEN HARRY MET SALLLY in one column, and in adjacent columns they cited a Woody Allen title and a particular scene from that movie, making the case that Reiner-n-Ephron-n-Co. had come up wit a derivative movie.
Y’know what? I don’t care anymore. I don’t care, partly because in this day and age we have an emerging DJ-ethos to filmmaking. Quentin Tarantino is not unique in making a career of mashing up elements different movies that he loves, but he is unique and that he acknowledges it. But I also don’t care, because movies have always been this way. When I was enraptured by an amazing new movie called STAR WARS, my parents and everyone else their age were amused, but no where near as impressed as I was — they felt they had seen it already when it was called FLASH GORDON. Not only that, George Lucas himself admits on Criterion’s DVD of THE HIDDEN FORTRESS that he lifted his basic plot line and several character relationships directly from Kurosawa’s 1958 samurai tale.
SO … lifting scenes and inspiration is nothing new. I think a more important concern is: “How well do they do it?” Tarantino? Pretty damn well. Lucas? Even better. And 20 years after WHEN HARRY MET SALLY was knocked down several pegs for me, I am prepared to hoist it back up. It is a great big hug of a movie with a few classic moments all of its own. I’m not just referring to the Katz’s Deli-gasm either. I am hard pressed to think of any romantic comedy, by Woody or anyone else, with as show-stopping a speech as Harry’s New Years Eve plea to Sally. Go ahead — try to top that moment! You can’t!!Barry Sonnenfeld, Billy Crystal, Bruno Kirby, Carrie Fisher, comedy, Meg Ryan, New York, Nora Ephron, Rob Reiner, romantic comedy