Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) first meets Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) in 1977 at the University of Chicago, when the two strangers decide to carpool to New York City after graduation. It isn’t exactly love at first sight for the pair. Harry is more crude and free-spirited, while Sally is more high-maintenance—she is overly-organized and prepared, and is very particular about the way she likes her food. During their road trip, Harry offers up the proposition that men and women can’t be just friends—there’s always this looming question about sex. This becomes a topic of debate for the trip.
Once Harry and Sally arrive in New York City, they say their goodbyes, assuming they’ll never cross paths again. However, 5 years later they have a chance meeting at the airport, and even end up sitting next to one another on the same flight. So the two once again get into a discussion about men and women, and the status of their own relationships. Harry makes an amendment to his prior rule that men and women can’t be just friends, adding that it doesn’t apply in the case where both parties are already in other relationships. Despite this opening the door for them to pursue a friendship, yet another 5 years go by before Harry and Sally run into each other again, this time at a bookstore. Both of them are now single, with failed relationships under their belts. However, they decide to throw caution to the wind, and make a pact that they can and will be “just friends”. While this all seems great at first, the inevitable happens and they discover that they have feelings for one another. Can they remain just friends, and if they do give in, how will that affect their seemingly-perfect friendship?!
When Harry Met Sally… is a delightful romantic comedy that still holds up amazingly well 30 years later. This is in large part because the characters and their discussions feel honest and true. The film is very dialogue-driven, without any big dramatic action sequences. It often feels more like a play, with beautiful New York City serving as a picturesque backdrop for a series of discussions and debates about the differences between men and women and their perspectives on relationships. You would think that a dialogue heavy film like this would get boring over time, but it doesn’t need any flashy effects to remain captivating and keep the audience engaged. It is so well written, with banter that feels very natural, and not forced. Throughout the film, there are also interjections of interviews with elderly couples, who recount how they first met and fell in love. These true stories from real couples are reenacted by actors in a really fun, humorous way that makes each pair feel like a genuine couple that has been together for ages. These meet-cute stories also end up being perfect parallels to what is happening with Harry and Sally’s relationship at point in the story. The way these are edited with the rest of the film is so perfect.
The cast of the film is excellent—I can’t imagine anyone else playing these roles. Billy Crystal does what he does best, with his fast-talking witty remarks, sarcastic quips, and fun voices and impressions. Billy is pretty much playing himself, which adds to the genuine nature of his character. It doesn’t feel like you are watching an actor, but rather a real person with real emotions and stories. Meg Ryan is also perfectly cast as the high maintenance (a term that was coined by this film) Sally, who learns to loosen up a bit over time…leading to one of film’s most memorable diner sequences. The film also includes an excellent supporting cast, with Carrie Fisher as Sally’s best friend Marie, and Bruno Kirby as Harry’s best friend Jess.
For this 30th anniversary Blu-ray release, Shout! Factory has remastered the film from a brand-new 4K scan of the original camera negative, and the results look phenomenal! The picture is bright, clean and detailed, with a minimal, pleasant amount of film grain. The New York city backdrop looks breathtaking, whether it’s showcasing the colorful leaves of the Fall, or the white snow of Winter. This is easily the best this film has ever looked. This release provides both 5.1 and stereo audio tracks. Since it is a dialogue-driven film so there isn’t much use of the surround channel. However, in scenes such as when Harry and Jess are at a Giants game, it does provide a nice sense of ambiance. The stereo channel is also used particularly well in a scene where both Harry and Sally call their best friends at the same time—in the split-screen scene, one of the conversations takes place in the left speaker while the other takes place in the right.
Shout! Factory usually does a great job with the supplemental material on its Shout Select line of Blu-rays, and this release is no exception. The disc contains a brand new 45-minute retrospective interview with director Rob Reiner and star Billy Crystal, and ports over all of the bonus material from the previous DVD releases—two audio commentaries, seven deleted scenes, a music video, the theatrical trailer, and over 90 minutes of interviews with the cast and filmmakers. The disc comes packed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase with a slipcover. Like many other Shout Select releases, the insert inside the cover is reversible, giving the viewer a choice in how to display this title in his or her collection. The alternate view for this title can be seen below:
- 1080p / Widescreen 1.85:1
- Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Surround, English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo
- Subtitles: English SDH
All of the bonus material from the previous DVD releases has been ported over. There is also one brand new interview with director Rob Reiner and star Billy Crystal.
- Scenes from a Friendship (44:34)
In this brand new featurette, director Rob Reiner and star Billy Crystal sit down for a fun and often hilarious retrospective look back at making the film. They talk about working together on All in the Family, how the Harry and Sally relationship is based in part on their own relationship, how Nora Ephron supplied the women’s perspective for the script, coming up with the film’s most memorable line, filming the orgasm scene, the use of improv, filming 61 takes of the phone call scene, reenacting real stories of how couples met, the initial test screening reactions, and more. Some of the stories are a little repetitive to those in the older featurettes.
- How Harry Met Sally (33:21)
The cast and filmmakers talk about how the film came about, their own relationship experiences that inspired the characters and dialogue, casting the film, filming the orgasm scene, the wardrobe, the music, the how we met interviews, and more. Includes interviews with director Rob Reiner, writer Nora Ephron, Katz’s Deli owner Martin Dell, costume designer Gloria Gresham, hairstylist Barbara Lorenz, music arranger Marc Shaiman, and stars Billy Crystal (“Harry”), Meg Ryan (“Sally”), Carrie Fisher (“Marie”) and Bruno Kirby (“Jess”). Presented in 4:3 format, originally produced for the 2001 MGM DVD release.
- It All Started Like This (19:48)
Director Rob Reiner and writer Nora Ephron sit down for a conversation about how the idea for the film came about and how the script evolved over time. They share a lot of fun behind-the-scenes stories. Originally produced for the 2008 MGM DVD release.
- What Harry Meeting Sally Meant (12:29)
The cast, filmmakers and critics talk about the film and why it still has such staying power. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with director Rob Reiner, writer Nora Ephron, stars Billy Crystal and Carrie Fisher, and film critics Thelma Adams and Richard Roeper. Originally produced for the 2008 MGM DVD release.
- I Love New York (8:29)
The cast, filmmakers and critics talk about shooting and filming in New York. Includes interviews with writer Nora Ephron, production designer Jane Musky, director Rob Reiner, stars Billy Crystal and Carrie Fisher, and film critics Thelma Adams and Richard Roeper. Originally produced for the 2008 MGM DVD release.
- So, Can Men And Women Really Be Friends? (7:54)
The cast and filmmakers debate whether or not men and woman can be just friends. Includes interviews with director Rob Reiner, sex therapist Dr. Jane Greer, professor of sociology at Queens College Dr. Andrew Beveridge, writer Nora Ephron, and stars Billy Crystal and Carrie Fisher. Originally produced for the 2008 MGM DVD release.
- Deleted Scenes (7:24)
Collection of 7 deleted scenes that play back to back. Presented in 4:3 letterboxed format. Originally appeared on the 2001 MGM DVD release.
- Harry does some impressions in the car during the road-trip
- Harry and Sally discuss their prior sexual experiences in a diner during their road trip
- Sally talks to her friend about a bad date and her friends-only relationship with Harry
- Harry lays in bed, staring at the clock, debating whether he should sneak out
- Harry talks to Jess in the supermarket about his relationship
- More interview footage of the Harry and Sally as a couple
- Unused when we met couple interview
- Creating Harry (5:47)
The cast and filmmakers talk about the character of Harry Burns and how he was inspired by Rob Reiner, and Billy Crystal playing the leading man. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with director Rob Reiner, writer Nora Ephron, film critics Thelma Adams and Richard Roeper, and stars Billy Crystal and Carrie Fisher. Originally produced for the 2008 MGM DVD release.
- Stories of Love (5:10)
The cast and filmmakers talk about the when we met stories that run throughout the film, and how Rob Reiner experienced his own while making of the movie. Includes interviews with director Rob Reiner, film critic Thelma Adams, and star Billy Crystal. Originally produced for the 2008 MGM DVD release.
- When Rob Met Billy (3:56)
Director Rob Reiner and star Billy Crystal talk about how they first met and became friends, and how they collaborated on this film. Originally produced for the 2008 MGM DVD release.
- Music Video By Harry Connick Jr. (2:50)
Music video for “It Had To Be You”, performed by Harry Connick Jr. Presented in 4:3 format, originally appeared on the 2001 MGM DVD release.
- Theatrical Trailer (2:12)
Presented in 4:3 letterboxed format.
- Audio Commentary by Rob Reiner, Nora Ephron, and Billy Crystal (1:35:32)
Fun and informative commentary with director Rob Reiner, star Billy Crystal and writer Nora Ephron. They talk about the inspiration for the film, the collaborative process, and more. They share a lot of fun and interesting behind-the-scenes stories (though some are repetitive to the other featurettes and commentary). Originally produced for the 2008 MGM DVD release.
- Audio Commentary by Rob Reiner (1:35:32)
Director Rob Reiner gives a solo commentary in this track originally produced for the 2001 MGM DVD release. He provides some interesting behind-the-scenes info, but this track isn’t as lively as the newer commentary with the trio of filmmakers. There are also several long gaps without commentary.
When Harry Met Sally… is a delightful romantic comedy that still feels fresh and relevant 30 years later, exploring the timeless and universal topic of relationships between men and women. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan have such great chemistry with one another, and the relationship between Harry and Sally feels so natural and realistic. Shout! Factory’s new Blu-ray release looks and sounds better than ever. The release also provides a new 45 minute interview with the star and director of the film—it’s a shame that Meg Ryan didn’t participate in this as she is also absent from all of the legacy bonus material that has also been ported over. Fans of the film will surely be pleased by this new release, and if you don’t already own a copy, this is the definitive version to pick up!