A Toast to When Harry Met Sally…, a Romantic Comedy for Grown-Ups

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My first memory of When Harry Met Sally… is that I wasnt allowed to watch it. When I think about the film now, I see it as a romance—an inverted one, where love does not come until 12 years after first sight, but a love story nonetheless. But When Harry Met Sally…s unwholesome raciness—the faked orgasm, the f-bombs, the woman who meows in the throes of passion—featured prominently in the films marketing campaign. So did the films central, provocative, deeply heteronormative question: Can men and women ever “just” be friends? And it needed an R rating to answer that question, too! The film glowed with forbidden allure.

My parents held the common, irrational conviction that watching sexuality was much worse than watching violence. I somehow saw The Killing Fields before I watched When Harry Met Sally…; if you cant guess from the title, The Killing Fields is a harrowing movie about genocide in Cambodia.

So what I first learned about When Harry Met Sally…, besides its cast, was that Meg Ryan fakes an orgasm in the movie. Someone had to explain the joke to me after an assembly in which a visiting lecturer made a joke about having a When Harry Met Sally… moment to an auditorium full of middle schoolers. (No one laughed.) I wasnt entirely sure what an orgasm was, let alone how to fake one. But it seemed like a power move.

Now this movie is one of my formative texts, those stories shelved in your brain that gradually become a part of your psychology. It goes without saying that its magnificent, a combination of talents at the height of their powers, coupled with filmmaking that treasured its characters, atmosphere, and setting.

Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal in Katz's Deli, the site of the famously faked orgasm.

©Columbia Pictures/Everett Collection.

When Harry Met Sally… is a collection of finely hewn set pieces—nearly all of which pivot around nothing more than a conversation. (Marie with the Rolodex at the Central Park Boathouse! Jess and Harry doing the wave in Giants Stadium after Harrys divorce! The “wagon wheel, Roy Rogers, garage sale coRead More – Source

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