Harry and Sally meet when she gives him a ride to New York after they both graduate from the University of Chicago. The film jumps through their lives as they both search for love, but fail, bumping into each other time and time again. Finally a close friendship blooms between them, and they both like having a friend of the opposite sex. But then they are confronted with the problem: "Can a man and a woman be friends, without sex getting in the way?" Written by
Greg Bole <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The character of Harry was somewhat based on director Rob Reiner. Reiner was depressed, and loved being depressed, like Harry Burns in the film. The character of Sally was somewhat based on screenwriter Nora Ephron. Ephron was optimistic, cheerful, loved control, and was the type of person who was "just fine" with everything, like Sally Albright. See more »
When Harry and Sally are in the diner talking about whether the women have a good time in bed with him, the bite mark in Sally's sandwich keeps moving from being near the side, to the centre, and back to the side. See more »
I was sitting with my friend Arthur Kornblum, in a restaurant, it was a Horn and Hardart cafeteria. And this beautiful girl walked in and I turned to Arthur and I said Arthur, you see that girl? I'm going to marry her. And two weeks later we were married. And it's over fifty years later and we are still married.
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Aside from freer language and more explicitly sexual humour, When Harry
Sally is a very traditional romantic comedy, very much in the mould
established in 1934 by It Happened One Night. Two very different but
evenly-matched people are thrown together by circumstance. They are
initially hostile to one another, but over the course of the film, this
hostility turns to love as their personalities are softened by exposure to
their opposites. Indeed, the central traits of Harry and Sally correspond
very directly to those of Peter and Ellen in IHON - he worldly-wise and
cynical, she spoiled and certain of what's what. Neither of them, it turns
out, is as right or as self-confidant as they believe. What's very modern
about WHMS is its attitude to long-term relationships. It's no longer
for the couple simply to fall in love and live happily ever after. They
have a full and real understanding of exactly what, or who, they're
themselves in for. They must also be sexually compatible (hence the
importance of their having slept with one another before they finally get
Within this framework of traditional romance in an unromantic world, WHMS
almost perfect. Structurally, there are no gaps or implausibilities. Even
the central coincidence of these people running into each other under
circumstances is answered. The short but affecting intermissions of
successful old couples describing their relationships are not only crucial
to the pacing of the film, they also make the point that Harry and Sally
just another couple with an unusual and interesting story. There's an
element of luck and coincidence in every successful relationship.
The effectiveness of the film's structure is perhaps best highlighted by
soundtrack. There's a perfectly selected Louis Armstrong track for every
phase of their relationship - the soundtrack not only complements the mood
of the film, it comments on the action. The acting is superb, with the two
main protagonists as well as their two foils (Bruno Kirby and Carrie
all giving career-best comic performances. Without such fantastic
performances, it's very possible that the film could have failed: these
essentially self-indulgent people, that we sympathise with them and
recognise them is in great measure down to the stars.
Finally, the script is fantastic. Of course nobody really speaks like
but like all great scripts it distills emotions and points of view into a
few lines. And it's funny. The one-liners are still sharp and amusing on
twentieth viewing, and the set-pieces are beautifully realised (the orgasm
scene is only the most famous - check out Harry's olympic sex-dream
"Must have been the dismount" - or the "I'm through making a schmuck out
myself" phone call).
All this, and a dinner party talking point about male and female
relationships. Can we ever be just friends? Not even with an ugly girl?
"Nah, you pretty much want to nail them too."
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