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When Harry Met Sally: the Greatest Romantic-Comedy of All Time?

Directed by Rob Reiner (Stand By Me, The Princess Bride), the 1989 romantic comedy is full of wit, comedic charm and romance. Fabulously 80’s with screen queen Meg Ryan starring as Sally Albright and satirical genius Billy Crystal as Harry Burns, this hit showcases the duos chemistry alongside the entertaining plot. Years past as they both go through different relationships whilst still remaining (for the most part) friends, until the inevitable happens – they start to fall for one another. Although the journey it takes to get there is at times tough, it is clear that they are meant to be together.

Appealing to both male and female audiences due to its dynamic storyline, each moment is full of realism, putting the characters in naturalistic situations that in turn makes the feature relatable. Many will know this film due to the hilariously famous scene in which Ryan’s Sally acts out how to fake an orgasm in the middle of the bustling Katz Delicatessen (Pictured below), after arguing with Harry that you never can tell. The famous line, which follows (“I’ll have what she’s having”), is given as it is believed she is reacting to the sandwich she is eating and is said by Rob Reiner’s own mother; this line will be forever quotable due to its hilarious delivery.

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Important not to ignore, is the entertaining side characters of Jess played by the late Bruno Kirby and Marie by the recently deceased Carrie Fisher. Both Kirby and Fisher portray the characters excellently, adding to the comedy and forwarding the plot. As the pair gets together, Sally and Harry realize that they themselves could work as a couple, developing the close-knit relationship over time.

This film showcases the beauty of New York, taking you all around the city – from Washington Square Park to the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art to the Loeb Boathouse and beyond. Its picturesque and beautiful cinematography helps to shape the blooming relationship, helps to keep the film interesting and eye-catching and makes perfect use of the setting around them.

Throughout the film there is a series of short scenes of different couples discussing how they met and their life together. This addition fits in to the romantic comedy brilliantly, once again representing a realistic element. The variety in couples represents what the film is all about – how life is an adventure and how one person can make it just that. Although When Harry Met Sally can be compared to romantic comedies released around the same time such as Say Anything (1989) and the sublime Pretty Woman (1990), what makes it stand out from the crowd is the sincere importance it places on the blossoming relationship between it’s protagonists.

This is why I believe that it is the greatest romantic comedy of all time. It takes the audience on a journey; spread over a few years resulting in each character developing, which many romantic comedies fail to do. Despite being nearly 20 years old, except for the clothing it hasn’t aged and the quality is just as sublime today. Although a number of fantastic romantic comedies have been released in the 90s (Four Weddings and a Funeral for example) and in the 00’s with the admired Love Actually (2003), I still believe that it stands above the rest.

A special mention for the gifted Nora Ephron, who wrote the screenplay for When Harry Met Sally, directed and wrote the screenplay for Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and did the same for the delightful You’ve Got Mail (1998), which also stars Meg Ryan. Multi-talented as a director, writer and actor, Ephron created storylines that everyone can relate to. Demonstrating the engagement of film, her features are full of laughter and will entertain everyone.

— AW