Friday, December 30, 2011

"When Harry Met Sally" 1989

"When Harry Met Sally"

This has to be one of my favorite romantic comedies.  The best part is that my husband will willingly watch it.   Since tomorrow is New Year's Eve and this movie culminates on New Year's Eve, I thought it was a perfect time to write about it.

The first time we see Harry and Sally they are driving from Chicago to New York together.  The dialogue in this movie is awesome.  Most is Billy Crystal's delivery. 

Harry Burns: You realize of course that we could never be friends.
Sally Albright: Why not?
Harry Burns: 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 Albright: That's not true. I have a number of men friends and there is no sex involved.
Harry Burns: No you don't.
Sally Albright: Yes I do.
Harry Burns: No you don't.
Sally Albright: Yes I do.
Harry Burns: You only think you do.
Sally Albright: You say I'm having sex with these men without my knowledge?
Harry Burns: No, what I'm saying is they all WANT to have sex with you.
Sally Albright: They do not.
Harry Burns: Do too.
Sally Albright: They do not.
Harry Burns: Do too.
Sally Albright: How do you know?
Harry Burns: Because no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.
Sally Albright: So, you're saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?
Harry Burns: No. You pretty much want to nail 'em too.
Sally Albright: What if THEY don't want to have sex with YOU?
Harry Burns: 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 Albright: Well, I guess we're not going to be friends then.
Harry Burns: I guess not.
Sally Albright: That's too bad. You were the only person I knew in New York.

Meg Ryan runs hot or cold for me.  This role was made for her slightly ditzy and uptight image.  Which is probably why I find her serious roles hard to watch. 

The second time they meet, five years have passed.

But the question of genuine friendship between the sexes is still on the table.

Harry Burns: Would you like to have dinner?... Just friends.
Sally Albright: I thought you didn't believe men and women could be friends.
Harry Burns: When did I say that?
Sally Albright: On the ride to New York.
Harry Burns: No, no, no, I never said that... Yes, that's right, they can't be friends. Unless both of them are involved with other people, then they can... This is an amendment to the earlier rule. If the two people are in relationships, the pressure of possible involvement is lifted... That doesn't work either, because what happens then is, the person you're involved with can't understand why you need to be friends with the person you're just friends with. Like it means something is missing from the relationship and why do you have to go outside to get it? And when you say "No, no, no it's not true, nothing is missing from the relationship," the person you're involved with then accuses you of being secretly attracted to the person you're just friends with, which you probably are. I mean, come on, who the hell are we kidding, let's face it. Which brings us back to the earlier rule before the amendment, which is men and women can't be friends.

Finally the third time they meet, they find a balance they can live with.

Harry Burns: You know, you may be the first attractive woman I've not wanted to sleep with in my entire life.
Sally Albright: That's wonderful, Harry.

It is great to see their relationship develop without them realizing they are perfect for each other.  The other friendships they have are realistic and I love the scene where Harry and Sally set each other up with their best friends only to be ditched when sparks fly.

I love their run to the cab without a glance back.  Next thing you know they are moving in together and getting married. 

There are so many great moments.  I won't bore you with recaps of all of them.  They have all seeped into my dialogue.  I can't say the words "some day" without the dramatic hand gesture. 

Sally: He just met her... She's supposed to be his transitional person, she's not supposed to be the ONE. All this time I thought he didn't want to get married. But, the truth is, he didn't want to marry me. He didn't love me.
Harry: If you could take him back now, would you?
Sally: No. But why didn't he want to marry me? What's the matter with me?
Harry: Nothing.
Sally: I'm difficult.
Harry: You're challenging.
Sally: I'm too structured, I'm completely closed off.
Harry: But in a good way.
Sally: No, no, no, I drove him away. AND, I'm gonna be forty.
Harry: When?
Sally: Someday.
Harry: In eight years.
Sally: But it's there. It's just sitting there, like some big dead end. And it's not the same for men. Charlie Chaplin had babies when he was 73.
Harry: Yeah, but he was too old to pick them up.

Then of course...

I love that they call their best friends as soon as they are apart and recap the whole situation.  But the only thing it does is make Jess and Marie glad they aren't out there anymore.

Marie: Tell me I'll never have to be out there again.
Jess: You'll never have to be out there again.


I love that these two are separated by their own stupidity, not some contrived situation or obvious wrong person.  It is just them being real.  It feels more emotionally true than most romantic comedies because we've watched them develop and change. 

There is a great moment where you see hope on Harry's face and Sally straightens herself up, trying to keep from getting hurt.  And then there is Harry's great speech.

Harry Burns: I've been doing a lot of thinking, and the thing is, I love you.
Sally Albright: What?
Harry Burns: I love you.
Sally Albright: How do you expect me to respond to this?
Harry Burns: How about, you love me too.
Sally Albright: How about, I'm leaving.
Harry Burns: I love that you get cold when it's 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Year's Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.
Sally Albright: You see? That is just like you, Harry. You say things like that, and you make it impossible for me to hate you.

And then they live happily ever after.  Even then you see that they have made little adjustments for each other.

[last lines]
[voiceover as last documentary couple]
Harry Burns: The first time we met, we hated each other.
Sally Albright: No, you didn't hate me, I hated you. The second time we met, you didn't even remember me.
Harry Burns: I did too, I remembered you. The third time we met, we became friends.
Sally Albright: We were friends for a long time.
Harry Burns: And then we weren't.
Sally Albright: And then we fell in love.
[on sofa as last documentary couple]
Sally Albright: Three months later we got married.
Harry Burns: Yeah, it only took three months.
Sally Albright: Twelve years and three months.
Harry Burns: We had this - we had a really wonderful wedding.
Sally Albright: It was - it really was a
Sally Albright: beautiful wedding.
Harry Burns: [overlapping] It was great. We had this enormous coconut cake.
Sally Albright: Huge coconut cake with a - with a - tiers and there was this very rich chocolate sauce on the side.
Harry Burns: Right, cause not everybody likes it on the cake, cause it makes it very soggy.
Sally Albright: Particularly the coconut soaks up a lot of excess and you really - it's important to keep it on the side.
Harry Burns: Right.

Happy New Year! 

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