Culture & Literature
PEOPLE When Harry Met Sally

PEOPLE When Harry Met Sally

PEOPLE When Harry Met Sally

It was the beginning of a rom-com revolution, a tiny story released in 1989 about an antagonistic friendship-turned-love story for the ages. Chances are, in the 30 years since its release, you’ve heard or said one of the iconic lines from the film, maybe even the classic: “I’ll have what she’s having.” Now, to celebrate this 30th anniversary, the editors at People present the special edition ‘When Harry Met Sally…’ After a recap in pictures, read an exclusive interview with Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal, and director Rob Reiner, their first together since the film was released. Then, enjoy the observation and wit that made Nora Ephron the queen of the romantic comedy. Revisit the iconic locations in New York, and even recreate the secret stars of the film, the food!, with recipes it made famous. And certainly, turn your ear again toward the American Songbook soundtrack that made 20-year-old Harry Connick Jr. a star. Let People’s ‘When Harry Met Sally…’ guide you through the film’s legacy and take a look at the many ways the story has been transformed and restaged since its release. Finally, debate and decide for yourself the top 10 romantic comedies of all time.

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Meredith Corporation
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in this issue

4 min.
our love is here to stay

It was not love at first sight. Just as old married couples gild the details of how they met long ago, the way we recall the start of our love affair with When Harry Met Sally… has been embellished in the past 30 years. Today the film sits atop many lists of the greatest romantic comedies ever. But when it premiered on July 12, 1989, this talky little romance about two friends did not enthrall every critic. “Often funny but amazingly hollow,” declared The New York Times’s Caryn James. “Feminist hackles, prepare to rise,” warned Stanley Kauffmann in The New Republic, charging the film “rests on the assumption that marriage is the state toward which everyone basically aspires, especially women.” (Honestly, if you skipped every movie in which a protagonist hopes to…

3 min.
“harry, this is sally…”

‘… and I’d like strawberry instead of vanilla, if you have it. If not, then no ice cream, just whipped cream but only if it’s real. If it’s out of a can, then nothing’—SALLY‘Someone is staring at you in Personal Growth…’ —MARIE‘I know him. You’d like him. He’s married’ —SALLY‘You made a woman “meow”?’ —JESS‘I’ ll have what she’s having’ —OLDER WOMAN IN DELI‘Someday, believe it or not, you’ ll go 15 rounds over who’s going to get this coffee table. This stupid, wagon wheel, Roy Rogers, garage-sale coffee table’ —HARRY, TO JESS & MARIE‘Don’t say a word’ —JESS, LATER REMOVING THE COFFEE TABLE‘They did it!’ —JESS & MARIE‘Who’s that talking?’ —HARRY, TO JESS‘Is that Jess on the phone?’ —SALLY, TO MARIE‘It’s Jane Fonda on the VCR’ —JESS, TO HARRY‘It’s…

25 min.
scenes from a friendship

AUTUMN IN NEW YORK, 1988. Central Park was ablaze with turning leaves. The L.A. Dodgers were in the World Series (the one with Kirk Gibson’s pinch-hit homer) and longtime pals Billy Crystal, Bruno Kirby and Rob Reiner were gathered around Manhattan hotel TVs to cheer. Carrie Fisher threw her storied birthday party with Penny Marshall (Reiner’s ex) on the Upper West Side. While at group lunches Nora Ephron directed waiters to tweak dishes to her specifications and her tablemates to taste everything. Meg Ryan, new to this crowd, was nervous—she’d just booked her first lead role—but she was also forming bonds that would endure for decades. They were all in town to make a movie that, although it would come to epitomize the perfect rom-com, was at its heart, about…

1 min.
billy crystal: the go-to

If Harry Burns had commitment issues, Billy Crystal is defined by his loyalty. He and wife Janice have been married for 49 years. In an over 20-year run with Comic Relief, he, along with Robin Williams and Whoopi Goldberg, helped raise millions for charity. He’s been an Oscar host for nine shows, second only to Bob Hope. His devotion to the L.A. Clippers? Unparalleled. His working friendship with Rob Reiner is no exception. He was Morty the Mime (an actor who couldn’t remember his lines) in Reiner’s 1984 directing debut, This Is Spinal Tap, then Miracle Max (“Have fun storming the castle!”) in The Princess Bride. Next came Harry, which made Crystal, a known funny guy, something new: a romantic lead. (In 1989 People called him “snappy, unself-consciously sexy.”) He…

1 min.
meg ryan, in love, and still fond of rom-coms

Just as you might hope to hear, Ryan was a good woman friend on the set of When Harry Met Sally. “She’s generous and kind and fun,” says Lisa Jane Persky, who couldn’t help but notice that their male colleagues “were all completely smitten with her. The crushes were insane.” Then the movie opened, and the feeling went wide: Ryan became the Rom-Com Queen, starring in a string of classics, from Sleepless in Seattle to French Kiss to You’ve Got Mail. But even as she owned the genre, “It felt… like ideas were being projected onto me that had nothing to do with me,” Ryan has said. “The girl next door to what?” She took a variety of projects, from the military drama Courage Under Fire to the psycho-sexual thriller…

4 min.
princess, yes, diva, no carrie fisher

MY ENTIRE LIFE COULD BE summed up in one phrase,” Carrie Fisher said in Wishful Drinking, her stage show and memoir of the same name. “That is: If my life weren’t funny, it would just be true, and that is unacceptable.” It was a realization that allowed Fisher to cope with the strangeness of being the child of a famous Hollywood marriage that, when she was still a toddler, became its era’s most notorious Hollywood divorce: Her father, Eddie Fisher, left her mother, Debbie Reynolds, for Elizabeth Taylor, the newly widowed wife of Eddie’s best friend Mike Todd. Years later it helped her turn her struggles with sobriety into her first comic novel (later a film) Postcards from the Edge. That sense of humor also just made her a lot…