Classic Rewatch

When Harry Met Sally

It’s the story of boy meets girl in this quintessential 80s rom-com. 

“I’ll have what she’s having…” If any film could be defined by one scene it’s today’s Lockdown Rewatch, the 1989 romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally which features the oft-repeated “fake orgasm in a busy deli” sequence between Meg “shaggy bob” Ryan and Billy “bad knitwear” Crystal. Rob Reiner’s film tries to answer the age-old question, “can men and women just be friends?” and successfully does it with a first rate script (from Norah Ephron), believable chemistry between the two leads and a brilliant supporting cast (Bruno Kirby and Carrie Fisher).

Did you also know…

1) The film (and particularly Harry) are partially based on Rob Reiner’s experiences of dating again after his divorce. Reiner said: “I’d been out a number of times, all these disastrous, confusing relationships one after another. And I thought, ‘This is an area I’ve never explored’.” Ephron interviewed both Reiner and producer Andy Scheinman about their lives as single men, and some of their often cynical comments made it into the final script.

2) When Harry Met Sally’s most iconic line was actually improvised by Crystal and then delivered by Reiner’s mother, Estelle. The scene in which Sally showcases her talent in faking an orgasm turned the real Katz’ Delicatessen in New York into a rom-com lovers hot-spot. We’d recommend their world-famous Pastrami sandwich… 

3) The four-way call in which Harry and Sally simultaneously speak to their closest friends, married couple Jess (Kirby) and Marie (Fisher), took an entire day and over 60 takes to shoot. “What people don’t understand is that there is no way to cut away if someone makes even the smallest mistake,” said Reiner. No green screen or cuts were used in the scene, instead three different sets with three different cameras were connected by phone lines to ensure actors would react to each other in real-time. One perfect take was ruined by a bird rustling in the rafters and compromising the audio, while in another take Kirby messed up his final line. 

4) Much like most of the film, the split-screen scene in which Harry and Sally watch Casablanca over the phone, was inspired by real-life events. Crystal and Reiner were close friends long before the film, and they would occasionally channel surf over the phone together. “He’d call me, he was all alone, you know,” Crystal recalls. “‘Channel 9, are you watching?’ And then I’d put it on: ‘Oh, my God, what is this?’ And it was arena football or something.”