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File:When harry met sally 5662.jpg


Harry Burns and Sally Albright first meet when they ride from college to New York City. He's seeing her friend Amanda and comes on to her; she turns him down and says they can be friends. He points out that if you're a guy, you will always be attracted to the female friend and want to sleep with her, thus they decide not to be friends. They revisit the question five years later when they are both taken and run into each other in an airport, once again resolving that no, they cannot.

Five years later, both of them re-meet after having been dumped by their SO's, and become friends. While resolving to just be friends...well for most of the movie they succeed in this. Their relationship has little sexual tension, and is punctuated by extended conversations where they discuss love, friendship, scatalogical humor, and Casablanca. The Aesop seems to be that people really need friendships- the nonsexual comfort zone Harry and Sally establish with each other is what allows them to move on from their failed relationships. To each other, in case you haven't figured that out yet.

In terms of the Romantic Comedy genre, this movie's main contribution was its popularization of Contemplate Our Navels as a form of Character Development and emotional connection- Harry and Sally are defined almost entirely by their interactions with each other. What external factors do exist they usually discuss with each other directly and personally.

Viewers familiar with the modern Rom Com may be caught off-guard, as this movie lacks the High Concept and Hotter and Sexier tropes the genre is famous for. There's almost no sex or even provocative clothing. There's vastly more scenes of people in bed, alone, wearing pajamas and talking on the phone than getting their sex on. The "R" rating was likely due to the famed restaurant scene.

Billy Crystal and Rob Reiner recently appeared in a spoof trailer on FunnyOrDie.com for When Harry Met Sally 2, where Executive Meddling has turned a continuation of the original film into a shameless cashing in on the vampire craze.


I'd like some Trope on the side:

  • Seventies Hair: Sally is sporting Farrah Hair in college.
  • Alliterative Name: Harry's ex, Helen Hillson.
  • Analogy Backfire: Harry articulating why enough time has passed that he can ignore having sex with Sally that one time. Also a hint that he's sliding back into his old, insufferable self.

 Harry: You know how a year to a person is like seven years to a dog?

Sally [[[Beat]]] Is one of us supposed to be a dog in this scenario?

 Harry: Alright, you're still as tough as nails.

  • Bad Date: Harry and Sally spend a good deal of time talking about these. Mostly played for comedy, but can get dramatic, too.
  • Bad News in a Good Way: Helen suggesting a 'trial separation'. They can still date! ("Like this is supposed to cushion the blow.")
  • Beard of Sorrow: Harry has had a few week's growth by the time of his divorce.
  • Big Applesauce
  • Blind Date
  • Briar Patching: Harry is the undisputed master.
  • Brick Joke: In the 70s, Harry scoffs at the notion that Sally could ever have "great sex" with a guy name Sheldon. Guess who his wife leaves him for? Ira.
  • California Doubling: They drive off the University of Chicago campus on the south side to New York.... via a picturesque segment of Lake Shore Drive headed toward the south side [Did they have to visit a friend at Northwestern, Depaul or Loyola first?]
  • Catch Phrase: You're right. You're right. I know you're right."
  • Chekhov's Gun: Harry's hypothesis on why men and women can't be platonic.
  • Child-Hater: Harry getting into a spat with a kid at the ballfield.

 Kid: (Big jerk.)

Harry: (Little creep.)

 Sally: You know, I'm so glad I never got involved with you. I just would have ended up being some woman you had to get up out of bed and leave at 3:00 in the morning and go clean your andirons...

 Sally: ...And Ingrid Bergman is low maintenance?

Harry: An L.M. Definitely

  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Post-coitus Harry in Sally's bed.
  • Throw It In: Harry's weird accent in the museum. Meg Ryan's reaction is real; you can see her glance offscreen at Rob Reiner.
  • Toilet Seat Divorce: The wagon wheel coffee table. From Hell.
    • Inverted, with Harry transferring his own pent-up rage toward his ex on Jess and Marie.
    • Not one to take chances, though, Jess bins the table.
    • Sally's boyfriend in college broke up with her because she wore panties embroidered with the days of the week. And "Sunday" was missing. J'accuse!
  • Unsatisfiable Customer: Sally is the Berlin Wall of gourmets. Everything needs to be separate.

 Harry: "On the side" is a very big thing with you.

  • Wedding Day: Marie and Jess's, where Harry and Sally have a post-sex fight.
  • Why Can't I Hate You?: Sally's response to Harry's Love Confession at the end.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Harry's a bit too quick in agreeing with Sally that it was a mistake to have sex with her.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Marie has a long-term affair with the married Arthur. Sally continually reminds her that Arthur is never going to leave his wife; Marie always admits to it, but a few scenes later, she's discussing him yet again...
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