- “When Harry Met Sally” premiered 32 years ago this month.
- The movie centers on a romantic relationship – but it’s no fairy-tale love story.
- Writer Nora Ephron revealed a cut scene from the script that shows how Harry and Sally fell in love.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Some rom-coms are inspiring love stories that feed us unrealistic hope. Some take us on joy-rides that wreak havoc on our nervous systems. But some are a smooth and soothing experience from start to finish – making them the perfect choice for rewatching. “When Harry Met Sally” is the latter; a film that mastered the balance between humor and romance.
“When Harry Met Sally” premiered 32 years ago this month, and it remains one of the best rom-coms of all time. Though the movie centers on a romantic relationship, the most satisfying aspect of it is the way there’s no fairy-tale love story. Instead, Harry and Sally build a meaningful relationship through platonic intimacy.
While rewatching the film during quarantine, separated from the luxuries of actively being outside, Harry and Sally’s connection was a soothing balm
While many of us were practicing social distancing, the only available form of emotional connection we had was talking – we nurtured our relationships through conversations.
In a scene when Harry and Sally both watched “Casablanca” separately while on the phone, I realized how this film was ahead 30 years of its time. They were socially distancing while watching a movie together, something many people did during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Harry and Sally help each other navigate the emotions that brew after a failed relationship, all while never acknowledging the simmering undercurrent of desire between them. From dinners to helping one another pick out gifts, the one thing Harry and Sally know how to do is truly be there for one another.
Their unfiltered, sometimes-deep and sometimes-shallow conversations show how talking (and listening) are essential to intimacy.
The movie’s screenwriter, Nora Ephron, knew that ‘just talking’ was the key to this love story
Ephron’s last written book, “The Most of Nora Ephron,” was published after her death in 2012. It included notes on “When Harry Met Sally,” and even revealed a cut scene from her first draft of the script that explains how Harry and Sally fell in love even though all they did was “just talk.” According to Ephron, the scene “perfectly sums up the movie [she] was trying to write.”
Here’s the dialogue Ephron wrote but ultimately scrapped because it was too “self-conscious”:
Sally: I think we should write a movie about our relationship.
Harry: What’s the plot?
Sally: There are only two plots. The first is, an appealing character strives against great odds to achieve a worthwhile goal, and the second is, the bluebird of happiness is right in your own backyard.
We’re the first.
Harry: An appealing character-
Sally: Two appealing characters strive against great odds to achieve a worthwhile goal. Two people become friends at the end of the next major relationship of their lives and get each other to the next major relationship of their lives.
Harry: I don’t know anything about writing movies.
Sally: Neither do I.
Harry: But on the face of it-I don’t want to be negative about it-
Sally: Sure you do. You love being negative, it’s who you are, embrace it-
Harry: -but it seems to me that movies are supposed to be visual. We don’t do anything visual. We just sit in restaurants and talk, or we sit on the phone and talk, or we sit in your apartment or my apartment and talk.
This conversation is a whole a meta-scene that underlines the way Ephron specifically avoided giving Harry and Sally an overblown romance. In another one of the Ephron’s notes, she says the film’s director Rob Reiner described the movie as “a talk piece.”
“There are no chase scenes,” he said. “No food fights. This is walks, apartments, phones, restaurants, and movies.”
The conversation-driven approach to falling in love is what makes the movie so great. Harry and Sally’s relationship shows the organic progression from platonic to romantic love, a friends-first approach that is often successful in the real world.
In a world where longevity has been replaced by instant gratification, it feels good to get lost in a film that shows how simmering love can have the hottest end. Ephron and Reiner crafted a film that still delightfully holds up 32 years later, earning it the cozy top spot on the rewatch list.