When Harry Met Sally… is one of my top five favorite movies of all time. The coupling of Rob Reiner’s direction with Nora Ephron’s script might be one of the most romantic—and funniest—match-ups to occur in Hollywood. Add the perfect comedic timing of Billy Crystal as Harry and adorable, former America’s Sweetheart Meg Ryan and this movie is about as perfect as a movie can be.
Well, at least in my opinion. But bear in mind, I am a hopeless romantic, a total sap when it comes to sentiment. Out of my top five favorite movies, four are romances. (Almost Famous does have romantic elements, but overall, I wouldn’t put it in the romance genre.)
One of the things that makes the movie so great is that Billy Crystal isn’t your typical, hunky leading man. And while Meg Ryan, in her prime here, is quite beautiful, I wouldn’t say she was stunning in the same way as Elizabeth Taylor in her prime. They are a cute couple, the kind of couple you could easily see yourself being friends with. I think that made them and their story so relatable.
Probably the most famous line from that movie is, “I’ll have what she’s having.” (Most of you will know immediately what scene that comes from, even if you haven’t seen the movie. Though why you wouldn’t have seen the movie is beyond me…) But there are two other scenes that I adore:
Sally and Harry are sitting at a diner talking about past lovers, and Harry asks Sally why she wasn’t still with this one ex who was the best lover she ever had.
Sally Albright: Well, if you must know, it was because he was very jealous, and I had these days of the week underpants.
Harry Burns: Ehhhh. I’m sorry. I need the judges ruling on this. “Days of the weeks underpants”?
Sally Albright: Yes. They had the days of the week on them, and I thought they were sort of funny. And then one day Sheldon says to me, “You never wear Sunday.” It was all suspicious. Where was Sunday? Where had I left Sunday? And I told him, and he didn’t believe me.
Harry Burns: What?
Sally Albright: They don’t make Sunday.
Harry Burns: Why not?
Sally Albright: Because of God.
My next favorite scene happens when Sally is sobbing on Harry’s shoulder after learning that her former boyfriend, whom she had been in a long-term relationship with, was getting married.
Sally: He just met her… She’s supposed to be his transitional person, she’s not supposed to be the ONE. All this time I thought he didn’t want to get married. But, the truth is, he didn’t want to marry me. He didn’t love me.
Harry: If you could take him back now, would you?
Sally: No. But why didn’t he want to marry me? What’s the matter with me?
Sally: I’m difficult.
Harry: You’re challenging.
Sally: I’m too structured, I’m completely closed off.
Harry: But in a good way.
Sally: No, no, no, I drove him away. AND, I’m gonna be forty.
Harry: In eight years.
Sally: But it’s there. It’s just sitting there, like some big dead end. And it’s not the same for men. Charlie Chaplin had kids when he was 73.
Harry: Yeah, but he was too old to pick them up.
I love this because Harry was being the friend she needed right then. You could see how much he loved her by this point, even if he didn’t realize it, and even if it still took her a little longer to realize she felt the same way. This was the charm of the movie. You knew they would end up together, you knew it from the first scene, but you were drawn into their evolving relationship. It wasn’t like it was in many romantic films, where there’s an instant spark and unbridled passion and some conflict keeping the two lovers apart. This was more real—it was the progression of acquaintanceship to friendship to marriage. For anyone lucky enough to have married their best friend, this is the movie for them.
Oh, and it has a great soundtrack done by Harry Connick, Jr. (hubba hubba!)