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When Harry Met Sally… is a 1989 American romantic comedy film written by Nora Ephron and directed by Rob Reiner. It stars Billy Crystal as Harry and Meg Ryan as Sally. The story follows the title characters from the time they meet just before sharing a cross-country drive, through twelve years or so of chance encounters in New York City. The film raises the question "Can men and women ever just be friends?" and advances many ideas about relationships that became household concepts, such as "high-maintenance"[1] and the "transitional person".[2]

The origins of the film were derived from Reiner's return to single life after a divorce. An interview Ephron conducted with Reiner provided the basis for Harry. Sally was based on Ephron and some of her friends. Crystal came on board and made his own contributions to the screenplay, making Harry funnier. Ephron supplied the structure of the film with much of the dialogue based on the real-life friendship between Reiner and Crystal. The soundtrack consists of standards performed by Harry Connick Jr., with a big band and orchestra arranged by Marc Shaiman. Connick won his first Grammy Award for Best Jazz Male Vocal Performance.

Columbia Pictures released the film using the "platform" technique, which involved opening it in a few select cities, letting positive word of mouth generate interest, and then gradually expanding distribution over subsequent weeks. When Harry Met Sally... grossed a total of US$92.8 million in North America. Ephron received a British Academy Film Award, an Oscar nomination, and a Writers Guild of America Award nomination for her screenplay. The film is ranked 23rd on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs list of the top comedy films in American cinema and number 60 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies". In early 2004, the film was adapted for the stage in a production starring Luke Perry and Alyson Hannigan.

Plot

In 1977, Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) and Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) graduate from the University of Chicago and share the drive to New York City, where Sally is beginning journalism school and Harry is starting a career. Harry is dating a friend of Sally's, Amanda (Michelle Nicastro). During the drive, they discuss their differing ideas about relationships between men and women. Harry says that "Men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way." Sally disagrees, claiming that men and women can be strictly friends without sex. During a stop in a diner, Sally is angered when Harry tells her she is attractive; she accuses him of making a pass at her. In New York, they part on unfriendly terms.

Five years later, Harry and Sally find themselves on the same flight. Sally has just started dating a man named Joe (Steven Ford) – who is a neighbor of Harry's – and Harry is engaged to a woman named Helen, which surprises Sally. Harry suggests they become friends, forcing him to qualify his previous "rule" about the impossibility of male-female friendships. Despite Harry's suggestions of exceptions to that rule, they separate, concluding that they will not be friends.

Harry and Sally run into each other again in a bookstore five years later. They have coffee and talk about their previous relationships; Sally and Joe broke up because she wanted a family and he did not want to marry, and Harry's relationship ended when Helen fell in love with another man. They take a walk and decide to be friends. They have late-night phone conversations, go to dinner, and spend time together. Their dating experiences with others continue to inform their differing approaches to relationships and sex.

During a New Year's Eve party, Harry and Sally find themselves attracted to each other. Though they remain friends, they set each other up with their respective best friends, Marie (Carrie Fisher) and Jess (Bruno Kirby). When the four go to a restaurant, Marie and Jess hit it off; they later become engaged. One night, over the phone, Sally tearfully tells Harry that her ex is getting married. He rushes to her apartment to comfort her, and they unexpectedly have sex, resulting in an awkward moment the next morning as Harry leaves in a state of distress. This creates tension in their relationship. Their friendship cools for three weeks until the two have a heated argument during Jess and Marie's wedding dinner. Following this fight, Harry repeatedly attempts to mend his friendship with Sally, but she feels that they cannot be friends after what happened.

At a New Year's Eve party that year, Sally feels alone without Harry by her side. Harry spends New Year's alone, walking around the city. As Sally decides to leave the party early, Harry appears and declares his love for her. At first, she argues that the only reason he is there is because he is lonely, but he disagrees and lists the many things he realized he loves about her. They make up and kiss and marry three months later.

Cast

  • Billy Crystal as Harry Burns
  • Meg Ryan as Sally Albright
  • Carrie Fisher as Marie Fisher
  • Bruno Kirby as Jess Fisher
  • Steven Ford as Joe
  • Lisa Jane Persky as Alice
  • Michelle Nicastro as Amanda Reese
  • Kevin Rooney as Ira Stone
  • Harley Kozak as Helen Hillson
  • Franc Luz as Julian
  • Tracy Reiner as Emily
  • Estelle Reiner as Older Woman Customer
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Winter People | When Harry Met Sally...
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  1. Michiko Kakutani. "From 'Happy Camper' to 'Out of Sight'", The New York Times. ""When Harry Met Sally" (1989) is credited with popularizing the phrase "high-maintenance," ..." 
  2. Pasupathi, Vimala C (July 25, 2006). "The Rhetoric of Love and Seduction", University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved on November 29, 2007. Archived from the original on April 2, 2007. 
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