When Harry Met Sally... 30th Anniversary (1989) presented by TCM Movie Poster

Trivia for When Harry Met Sally... 30th Anniversary (1989) presented by TCM

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  • (Cameo) Estelle Reiner: The woman who says, "I'll have what she's having," after Sally's faked orgasm was director Rob Reiner's mother.
  • The orgasm scene was filmed at Katz's Deli, an actual restaurant on New York's E. Houston Street. The table at which the scene was filmed now has a plaque on it that reads, "Where Harry met Sally...hope you have what she had!"
  • Albert Brooks turned down the role of Harry Burns.
  • The character of Harry was somewhat based on director Rob Reiner. Reiner was depressed, cynical, and neurotic, but with a big heart underneath, like Harry Burns in the film. The character of Sally was somewhat based on screenwriter Nora Ephron. Ephron was optimistic, cheerful, loved control, and was the type of person who was "just fine" with everything, like Sally Albright.
  • In the museum scene, Billy Crystal (Harry) ad-libbed, "But, I would be proud to partake of your pecan pie." Meg Ryan (Sally) laughed and looked to her right where director Rob Reiner silently prompted her to go with it.
  • Molly Ringwald was offered the role of Sally Albright, but was forced to decline due to a busy schedule. She would later go on to play the character in 2004 in the stage version of the film, on London's West End.
  • In an interview with National Public Radio on November 2, 2004, screenwriter Nora Ephron credited Meg Ryan not only with the idea of faking an orgasm in the famous restaurant scene, but also with the idea of setting it in a restaurant in the first place.
  • According to screenwriter Nora Ephron, the infamous "I'll have what she's having" line was actually suggested by Billy Crystal.
  • Sally's picky and crazy eating habits were put into the movie after director Rob Reiner saw screenwriter Nora Ephron ordering her food, in the same way Sally does in the film. When Reiner brought this up, Ephron stated, "I just want it the way I want it," a line which was put into the movie.
  • Screenwriter Nora Ephron was pleased with how the film turned out, but was unhappy with its title; she said it was the one thing she would go back and fix if she could.
  • Before deciding on the title, "When Harry Met Sally...," screenwriter Nora Ephron, producer Andrew Scheinman, and director Rob Reiner considered: "Just Friends," "Playing Melancholy Baby," "Boy Meets Girl," "Blue Moon," "Words of Love," "It Had To Be You," "Harry, This Is Sally," and "How They Met."
  • For the infamous orgasm scene, the original script called for Harry and Sally to merely talk about women faking an orgasm, until Meg Ryan suggested that Sally actually fake an orgasm at the table. Director Rob Reiner loved the idea and put it into the script.
  • Director Rob Reiner and producer Andrew Scheinman are credited on some drafts of the script.
  • Director Rob Reiner, screenwriter Nora Ephron, and producer Andrew Scheinman chose beautiful locations to highlight the characters' lack of insight. Harry and Sally are as blind to romance as they are to the love growing between them. The same logic was used for Harry's apartment. The windows overlook the Empire State Building; it could either the loveliest, or loneliest, view in the world.
  • While writing the script, director Rob Reiner once said, "You know how women have a base of make-up? I have a base of depression. Sometimes I sink below it. Sometimes I rise above it." Since the character of Harry Burns was based on the depressed Reiner, screenwriter Nora Ephron threw the line into the script, which Reiner cut somewhere along the line.
  • The segments of married couples telling the stories of how they met are real stories that director Rob Reiner collected for the film. The actors related the stories.
  • When Harry Met Sally... (1989) was ranked #6 on the American Film Institute's list of the ten greatest films in the genre "Romantic Comedy."
  • The concept of Sally being a picky eater was based on the film's screenwriter, Nora Ephron. Years after the movie came out, when Ephron was on a plane and ordered something very precise, the stewardess looked at her and asked, "Have you ever seen the movie When Harry Met Sally... (1989)?"
  • The off-camera voice that says, "Hey, everybody, ten seconds until new year," is director Rob Reiner.
  • During the ending scene, Harry mentions never understanding what the song "Auld Lang Syne" was about. Some years earlier, director Rob Reiner also questioned the meaning of the song when portraying Mike Stivic on an episode of All in the Family (1971).
  • Harry is shown reading Stephen King's "Misery." The film adaptation would be the next movie directed by Rob Reiner.
  • The quote, "I'll have what she's having," was not only voted #33 on the AFI's list of "Best 100 Movie Quotes in American Film," as well as the only quote on the list to be spoken by a non-professional actor (Rob Reiner's mother, Estelle Reiner, delivered the line). It was also the only dialogue line ever delivered on film by mother Estelle.
  • The infamous orgasm scene was edited out of some airline prints of the film.
  • In many romantic comedies, there is a bullying significant other or a contrived misunderstanding that would keep the two leads apart. This film is special in that it has neither of these clichés; the only thing keeping Harry and Sally apart is their own various neuroses.
  • Included among the "1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die," edited by Steven Schneider.
  • Much of the dialogue that screenwriter Nora Ephron wrote was taken from the banter between real-life friends Rob Reiner and Billy Crystal.
  • Nora Ephron wrote the screenplay, and its numerous drafts, over a period of nearly five years.
  • Naming the film proved to be problematic. At one point, director Rob Reiner ran a competition amongst his Castle Rock Entertainment employees, looking for suggestions.
  • To help him capture the mood of a newly divorced, single man, Billy Crystal would hole himself up in a hotel room in isolation, deliberately keeping himself away from cast and crew.
  • Director Rob Reiner originally wanted Susan Dey to play Sally Albright. When Dey turned down the part, he approached Elizabeth Perkins, Elizabeth McGovern and Molly Ringwald. At this point, Meg Ryan started lobbying hard for the part.
  • Meg Ryan had to go through her fake orgasm repeatedly as the scene was shot over and over.
  • This film marked the first appearance on a soundtrack for Harry Connick Jr.
  • Joe is played by Steven Ford, the son of 38th U.S. President Gerald Ford.
  • The film is based on director Rob Reiner's experiences post-divorce and as a single man. Ironically, Reiner met his current wife during the making of this film.
  • Harry and Sally's final interview at the end of the film was completely improvised.
  • The "Win, Lose or Draw" scene was entirely improvised.
  • The scene where we see all four lead characters talking to each other individually on various telephones took sixty takes to nail.
  • The footage of Harry and Jess at the New York Giants game was taken from when the team played the Detroit Lions on October 16, 1988. The Giants won 30-10.
  • The football game scene uses footage from an actual New York Giants game. However, the long range crowd shots are of a Buffalo Bills home game at Rich Stadium. It had the same colors on the fans but a more spirited version of "the wave."
  • Tom Hanks turned down the role of Harry, as he thought the film was "too lightweight". Michael Keaton was also considered.
  • When posed the film's central question, can men and women just be friends, Meg Ryan replied, "Yes, men and women can just be friends. I have a lot of platonic (male) friends, and sex doesn't get in the way." Billy Crystal said, "I'm a little more optimistic than Harry. But I think it is difficult. Men basically act like stray dogs in front of a supermarket. I do have platonic (women) friends, but not best, best, best friends."
  • Nora Ephron supplied the structure of the film with much of the dialogue based on the real-life friendship between Rob Reiner and Billy Crystal. For example, in the scene where Sally and Harry appear on a split screen, talking on the telephone while watching their respective television sets, channel surfing, was something that Crystal and Reiner did every night.
  • In early 2004, the film was adapted for the stage in a Theatre Royal Haymarket production starring Luke Perry and Alyson Hannigan. Molly Ringwald and Michael Landes later replaced Hannigan and Perry for the second cast.
  • The split-screens were an homage to Pillow Talk (1959). In those days, the Hays Code set moral guidelines for all the films released by major studios. Movies weren't allowed to show a couple in bed (or bath or beyond) together, or any sort of sexual relationship between unmarried partners. (The code was abandoned in 1968.) Harry and Sally were kept apart to show how close they were as "just friends."
  • In the deli scene, when Sally (Meg Ryan), fakes the orgasm in front of Harry (Billy Crystal), the woman who says the famous iconic line, "I'll have what she's having" was Estelle Reiner, the mother of Director Rob Reiner.
  • Demi Moore showed up to the film's premiere braless, dressed in a plain white T-shirt tucked in jeans, and sporting a brand new haircut: the short boylike crop that would be emulated by millions of women when Ghost (1990) was released the next year.
  • Meg Ryan was so strong in the restaurant scene, that for weeks after filming, wolves could be heard late at night howling at the moon. (just kidding).
  • Carrie Fisher was best known for playing Princess Leia in the Star Wars films. In the sequel trilogy, her character is the mother of Kylo Ren, who is played by Adam Driver. Meg Ryan, on the other hand, is the real-life mother of actor Jack Quaid. Driver and Quaid appeared together in the film Logan Lucky (2017).
  • Included among the American Film Institute's 2000 list of the Top 100 Funniest American Movies.
  • Bill Murray, Jeff Bridges and Harrison Ford were considered to play Harry, before Billy Crystal was cast.
  • During their final interview it appears Sally wasn't wearing a wedding ring.
  • In addition to Rob Reiner's mother, Estelle Reiner, appearing in the film, so does his adopted daughter, Tracy Reiner, whose birth mother was Reiner's wife, Penny Marshall.
  • Tragically, three of the principals from the film died relatively young, especially co-star Bruno Kirby, at age 57. Screenwriter Nora Ephron was only 71 when she succumbed to cancer. And most prominently, Carrie Fisher died at age 60...followed only one day later in Dec., 2016 by her legendary mom, Debbie Reynolds.
  • At least five of the film's cast members and creators came from show-business families. Most well known, of course, is Carrie Fisher, whose parents were Debbie Reynolds & Eddie Fisher. Rob Reiner's father was the veteran comic, Carl Reiner, while mother, Estelle Reiner, had been an accomplished jazz singer. Nora Ephron's parents, Henry Ephron & Phoebe Ephron, like her, had also been highly successful Hollywood screenwriters. Bruno Kirby had also followed in the footsteps of his character-actor dad Bruce Kirby. Finally, Billy Crystal's father and uncle were both prominent in the record & concert industry, working closely with legends such as Billie Holiday. (Coincidentally, Bruce Kirby had co-starred with both Billy Crystal & Rob Reiner just two years earlier in Throw Momma from the Train (1987).
  • The exteriors shown of the townhouse block where Jess and Marie live is West 89th St. It's also the very same Upper West Side block on which director/co-writer Nora Ephron later chose to shoot when she located Meg Ryan (Kathleen Kelly) 's apartment there in You've Got Mail (1998). In real life, Ephron and her husband, Goodfellas (1990) author Nicholas Pileggi, lived just a few blocks away on 79th St & Broadway in the historic Apthorp apt. building.
  • For the scene in which Sally calls Marie and Harry calls Jess at the same time, there were three separate sets. As Rob Reiner explains: "We had three different sets: [One] where Bruno and Carrie were; a separate set where Billy was; and a [third] set where Meg was. It was all on the same soundstage. It's almost like doing a recording in a studio. The phones were all hooked up to each other, because there are no cuts, if you notice.... If somebody makes a mistake - and it's a three- to four-page scene - you can't cover it. You can't cut away to anything. You have to do it over again." So how many times did they try to get it right? "We shot it 61 times! If you remember at the end, they each hang up their phone - boom, boom, boom boom - in rhythm. It took forever to get it right. We did one I think 54 in, and we did it: They hung up the phones perfectly. Then Bruno blew his last line. So we had to start over again!"
  • Before filming the fake orgasm scene, Rob Reiner demonstrated the scene in front of the entire cast and crew, including his mother Estelle Reiner.
  • Michelle Nicastro also died at a young age, only 50 of breast cancer.
  • It has recently come to light through a Fox News report that Rob Reiner demonstrated the ecstasy scene in the diner of When Harry Met Sally in front of his mother. (That makes sense since Estelle Reiner is in the scene. It makes sense that he would demonstrate this to Meg Ryan in front of her since she was only a few feet away during the shooting).

Spoilers

  • In the first draft of the film, Harry and Sally did not end up together. It was only later that screenwriter Nora Ephron and director Rob Reiner decided that Harry and Sally belonged together.
  • When Harry realizes he wants to see Sally on New Year's Eve, he is near Washington Square Park. The party where Sally is attending is at the Puck Bulding, 295 W Lafayette Street, about a half mile away via Bleecker Street. If Harry runs five mph, he would have a six-minute run before arriving at the party.
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