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  When Harry Met Sally Well? Can men and women REALLY be just friends?
Year: 1989
Director: Rob Reiner
Stars: Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, Carrie Fisher, Bruno Kirby
Genre: Comedy, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 7 votes)
Review: Back in the early days of cinema, one thing that they knew how to make was a good old-fashioned romantic comedy. The number of classic double acts roll from the tongue - Doris Day and Rock Hudson, Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, Cary Grant and anyone - we all have our favorites. But during the 'liberated' sixties the emphasis changed, and what we saw was a more overtly stated sexual element appear. The result of this is that there were almost no good romantic comedies made during the seventies and early eighties, the focus being either on romance OR comedy, but rarely both. When Harry Met Sally changed all that.

The premise of the movie is simple: Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) and Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) graduate from college at the same time, and share a ride into New York. Along the way, they find out that they have very few things in common, the main difference being that Sally completely disagrees with Harry's assertion that "Men and women can't be friends, because sex always gets in the way". It seems that Harry's whole life is built around this premise. I have to break now and post the conversation where they discuss this, because to be honest, I can't say it anywhere near as well as they do:

Harry: You realize of course that we could never be friends.
Sally: Why not?
Harry: What I'm saying is - and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form - is that men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.
Sally: That's not true. I have a number of men friends and there is no sex involved.
Harry: No you don't.
Sally: Yes I do.
Harry: No you don't.
Sally: Yes I do.
Harry: You only think you do.
Sally: You say I'm having sex with these men without my knowledge?
Harry: No, what I'm saying is they all WANT to have sex with you.
Sally: They do not!
Harry: Do too.
Sally: They do not.
Harry: Do too.
Sally: How do you know?
Harry: Because no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.
Sally: So, you're saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?
Harry: No. You pretty much want to nail 'em too.
Sally: What if THEY don't want to have sex with YOU?
Harry: Doesn't matter because the sex thing is already out there so the friendship is ultimately doomed and that is the end of the story.
Sally: Well, I guess we're not going to be friends then.
Harry: I guess not.
Sally: That's too bad. You were the only person I knew in New York.

See?

When they get to New York they part company, only to then continue meeting up every few years, by coincidence at crisis points such as just after Harry gets divorced. Slowly they begin to break Harry's code, and become best friends, calling each other in the middle of the night to discuss Casablanca, and whether Sally would have left Bogart as Bacall did. They even try to fix the other up with their best pals (Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby) but this backfires when the two friends fall for each other, leaving Harry and Sally together again.

Eventually, the big mistake happens - Sally breaks up with a boyfriend, Harry goes round to comfort her, and pretty soon she doesn't need to fake orgasms any more. And then the problem starts. Whilst Sally smiles herself to sleep, Harry doesn't know what to do, so he leaves. Sally then doesn't know what to feel about this, so she feels nothing. She starts hating Harry for going, thinking that he doesn't care - but Harry does care. Far too much to just let it go. And then suddenly it's New Years Eve, and Harry has to do something about it........

Many people only know the infamous faked orgasm scene in the middle of the diner. I've deliberately not really mentioned this, because the movie is so much more than one scene. It truly is a classic, with probably the best performances ever from Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal. Rob Reiner's direction of a superb script makes this a movie to revisit time and again. It's just a great flick that you will both laugh and cry watching. A rare thing indeed these days.
Reviewer: Paul Shrimpton

 

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Rob Reiner  (1947 - )

Mainstream American actor, producer and director, son of Carl Reiner. After starring in the long-running sitcom All in the Family, Reiner turned to directing with This is Spinal Tap, The Sure Thing, Stand By Me, The Princess Bride, romantic blockbuster When Harry Met Sally, Misery and A Few Good Men. But when the dire North flopped, the films made less of a mark, like The American President or The Story of Us. He still acts in small roles.

 
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