Throwback Thursday: ‘When Harry Met Sally’ — a romantic comedy for the ages
For this week’s “Throwback Thursday” movie, we are traveling back to 1989 for “When Harry Met Sally,” a romantic comedy starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan.
When we first meet Harry Burns (Crystal) and Sally Albright (Ryan), they are graduating from the University of Chicago and traveling to New York City together. The year is 1977 and Harry is simply freeloading a ride from his girlfriend’s best friend, Sally. Almost immediately, Harry rubs Sally the wrong way by telling her that men and women cannot be friends because “the sex part always gets in the way.”
There’s tension between the two and Harry makes it worse when he suggests the two share a hotel room. Sally declines, and when they get to NYC, they shake hands and part ways. It’s not until five years later when Harry bumps into Sally into the airport. Sally is in a new relationship, while Harry is engaged to be married.
Once again, they travel together and part ways at the end of the flight. Even five years later, Harry manages to annoy Sally and it appears that the two will never see eye-to-eye on men and women being friends, relationships and life in general.
While we wonder where the plot will go, five more years pass and just like that, it’s 1987. Once again, Harry and Sally bump into each other — this time in a bookstore (remember those?) and have a pleasant conversation. Harry is getting a divorce and Sally’s relationship has ended.
You may think you know where this is headed, but trust me — you don’t.
Harry apologizes to Sally for his sexist views and the two begin hanging out, talking on the phone and having lunch together. You guessed it, they become friends.
They even try to fix each other up with their best friends, Marie (the late Carrie Fisher) and Jess (the late Bruno Kirby). Of course, Marie and Jess fall for each other and wind up getting married.
“When Harry Met Sally” was written by Nora Ephron and directed by Rob Reiner. The film is relatively quick and easy watch with a running time of just 95 minutes. Make no mistake about it — the film works because of the chemistry between Crystal and Ryan.
While there are several funny scenes, there is a standout. While out at lunch one day at New York’s famous Katz’s Delicatessen, Harry and Sally get into a discussion about — you guessed it — sex. Harry is bragging about his sexual escapades when Sally informs him that most women have “faked it.”
In a scene that is still discussed decades later, Sally delivers an over-the-top fake orgasm that has everyone in the deli looking on with amazement. Reiner’s mother Estelle then deadpans the classic line, “I’ll have what she’s having.”
At the heart of it, “When Harry Met Sally” is a classic romantic comedy. While it’s probably not on the same level with a couple of other Ryan hits — namely “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail” — it is a delightful and fun hour-and-a-half ride. It is on AFI’s list of Top 100 comedies, coming in at No. 23.
There was never a sequel made to see what happens to Harry and Sally, though “Funny or Die” recently released a five-minute short with Crystal and Helen Mirren, who fills in as the new Sally.
“When Harry Met Sally” is rated R for adult themes, language and the aforementioned deli scene.
It is available on YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, iTunes and Xfinity OnDemand.
Chris Morelli is a staff reporter for The Express.