When Harry Met Sally... is a 1989 American romantic comedy film written by Nora Ephron and directed by Rob Reiner. It stars Billy Crystal as Harry and Meg Ryan as Sally. The story follows the title characters from the time they meet just before sharing a cross-country drive, through twelve years or so of chance encounters in New York City. The film raises the question "Can men and women ever just be friends?" and advances many ideas about love that became household concepts, such as those of the "high-maintenance" girlfriend and the "transitional person". The origins of the film came from Reiner's return to single life after a divorce. An interview Ephron conducted with Reiner provided the basis for Harry. Sally was based on Ephron and some of her friends. Crystal came on board and made his own contributions to the screenplay, making Harry funnier. Ephron supplied the structure of the film with much of the dialogue based on the real-life friendship between Reiner and Crystal. The soundtrack consists of standards performed by Harry Connick, Jr., with a big band and orchestra arranged by Marc Shaiman. Connick won his first Grammy Award for Best Jazz Male Vocal Performance. Columbia Pictures released the film using the "platform" technique, which involved opening it in a few select cities, letting positive word of mouth generate interest, and then gradually expanding distribution over subsequent weeks. When Harry Met Sally... grossed a total of US$92.8 million in North America. Ephron received a British Academy Film Award, an Oscar nomination, and a Writers Guild of America Award nomination for her screenplay. The film is ranked 23rd on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs list of the top comedy films in American cinema and number 60 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies". In early 2004, the film was adapted for the stage in a production starring Luke Perry and Alyson Hannigan.
The movie is framed with stories of elderly couples telling stories about their relationships. Several stories are told throughout the movie. The story begins in 1977. Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) and Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) finish college at the University of Chicago and meet when both need someone to share a drive to New York City, where Sally is beginning journalism school and Harry is presumably starting a career; at the time, Harry is dating a friend of Sally's, Amanda (Michelle Nicastro). The film's underlying theme arises from their differing ideas about relationships between men and women which emerge during this journey. Harry evinces the view that "Men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way" ... even with ones "he finds unattractive". Sally disagrees, claiming that men and women can be strictly friends without sex. On the way, at a stop in a diner, Sally is angered when Harry tells her she is attractive; she accuses him of making a pass at her. In New York, due to their divergent philosophies, they part on less than friendly terms. Five years later, they meet in a New York airport and find themselves on the same plane. Both are in relationships; Sally has just started dating a man named Joe - who happens to be an old friend of Harry's - and Harry is engaged to a woman named Helen, which surprises Sally. Harry suggests they become friends, forcing him to elaborate on his previous rule about male-female friendships; they can never be friends because sex part gets in the way. Despite Harry's suggestions of exceptions to that rule, they separate concluding that they will not be friends. Harry and Sally meet yet again five years later, in a New York bookstore. They have coffee together and talk about their previous relationships, which have ended. After leaving the café, they take a walk and decide to be friends. In subsequent scenes, they have late-night phone conversations, go to dinner, and spend a lot of time together. Their dating experiences with others continue to highlight their different approaches to relationships and sex. During a New Year's Eve party, Harry and Sally find themselves attracted to each other. Though they remain friends, they set each other up with their respective best friends, Marie (Carrie Fisher) and Jess (Bruno Kirby). The four go to a restaurant, where Marie and Jess hit it off; they ultimately get engaged. One night, Sally tearfully tells Harry over the phone that her ex, Joe (Steven Ford), is getting married to his legal assistant, and he rushes to her apartment to comfort her. They unexpectedly have sex that night, resulting in an awkward moment the next morning as Harry quickly leaves in a state of distress. This creates tension in their relationship. Their friendship cools for three weeks until the two have a heated argument during Jess and Marie's wedding dinner. Following this fight, Harry repeatedly attempts to mend his friendship with Sally. Then, at a New Year's Eve party that year, Sally feels alone without Harry by her side. Meanwhile, Harry is shown spending New Year's alone. As she decides to leave the party early, Harry appears and declares his love for her; they make up and kiss. The last segment, in which couples discussed their relationship histories, is an interview with Harry and Sally, talking about their wedding.