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When Harry Met Sally

When Harry Met Sally?  

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  1. 1. Does When Harry Met Sally go in the space capsule?

    • ✅ I'll have what she's having
    • ❌ Don't f*** with Mr. Zero

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Amy & Paul go to the airport for 1989’s quintessential romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally! They learn how director Rob Reiner helped Meg Ryan prepare for the orgasm scene, ask why Harry Connick Jr. doesn’t appear in the film, and discuss whether the film’s ending undermines the message that men and women can be just friends. Plus: Highlights from the scenes that didn’t make the theatrical cut.

This is the first episode in our Couple Goals series; next week’s film is Chungking Express! Learn more about the show at unspooledpod.com, follow us on Twitter @unspooled and Instagram @unspooledpod, and don’t forget to rate, review & subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and Spotify. You can also listen to our Stitcher Premium game show Screen Test right now at https://www.stitcher.com/show/unspooled-screen-test, and apply to be a contestant at unspooledpod@gmail.com! Photo credit: Kim Troxall

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Your note about the Grant/Hepburn era vs this reminded me of Spotted Toad's thread on the midcentury "cult of love" in pop culture, which seems corny compared to jazz era or the counterculture & afterward

Since I dislike twitter and that threads are broken up into tweets, I'll copy the rest below for those who want to click the spoiler text*.

This film is considered a classic today. Having only positive memories of it, I was expecting to dub this the best of miniseries, but that negative review actually got me reconsidering. It is arguably a less specific, blander version of some Woody movies which are more deserving of a spot in space. Then again, despite Amy's claim, I don't relate to any romcoms. Of course, I've never had my DNA tested to see if I'm a human rather than a lizard-person.



'm a fan aesthetically of this corpus, but you still wonder about what ideological purposes this body of work (like romantic comedies of the era, etc) served, why it was necessary (would a *stable body of social arrangements* require equal buttressing?) and why it was let go of.

One perspective- while aristocratic art already long sought to tame/redirect destabilizing sexuality (eg, Mozart's peak operas) only in the 20th century did *choosing* companionate love became equally contested for ordinary people, thanks to rising wealth

Or maybe the manufacturing of desire becomes more important as people encounter surfeit rather than lack (perhaps a way of saying the same thing)- it's hard to imagine June Christy singing "Something Cool" anywhere but amid the new wealth of the mid-50s

Ie, the 60s Revolution was less an abandonment of constraint than a redirection of the manufacture of desire to be centrifugal rather than centripetal



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I wasn't really feeling this one. As far as romcoms go this one didn't feel especially unique or interesting. As was mentioned above, it's like a watered down Woody Allen film; it actually reminded me of Seinfeld but without the Larry David wit. Harry and his buddy had a Jerry and George thing going on and Sally is basically Elaine..is Seinfeld a parody of When Harry Met Sally? The many similarities are striking!

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I think this movie is great and I don't think of the Woody Allen comparisons as a particularly negative thing. The filmmakers have obviously been influenced by him, but the tone and worldview are completely different. Allen's movies tend to be skeptical of true love; this one looks to affirm it. I see When Harry Met Sally as Woody Allen influenced in the same way I see Wes Anderson as influenced by Orson Welles and Hal Ashby: the similarities are noticeable, but the techniques are also obviously used for very different aims and purpose.

So why would people consider it "blander?" I think there is often a bias (especially among critics) in favor of negative emotion over positive, as if the life-affirming work is less "serious" and we have to prove our good taste by liking darker stuff; it's the "Kubrick vs. Spielberg" argument writ large. I've tried to free myself of this false dichotomy over time. I think that upbeat work has just as much to teach us as downbeat work.

Anyway, I'm not one who has any particularly nostalgic feelings for WHMS, since I didn't watch it until well after its heyday and well after all of the 90s and early 2000s romcoms it influenced had all been released. Given that, I was actually probably predisposed to find it tiresome, as I did many of those lesser romcoms. Instead, I watched it and immediately saw: "Oh, THIS is the real deal, the thing all those other movies were trying to be." Most romcoms fail to replicate the careful character detail of this one and replace it with lots of silly plotting (someone made a bet, someone wrote a letter that got re-routed, etc.); in this one the only thing keeping our leads apart is themselves. This over-focus on plot also usually means the "happily ever after" romance feels rushed and implausible, but When Harry Met Sally takes its time, allowing the true love to gradually set in over many years. For me the ending has always worked for that reason, even though most of the time I'd be rolling my eyes at that kind of speech.

I've also returned to the film several times and have never found it any less engaging. So yeah, given how much I like it and how influential it is I think it goes on the rocket ship.

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That said, those who dislike the film may enjoy this fake trailer that re-edits the movie to look like a dark thriller. I think it's really well-done.


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In my opinion, this film's blandness has nothing to do with it being more positive or life-affirming when compared to a Woody Allen film; some of my favorite films fall into the nice-core subgenre. I'll be more clear and say I'm specifically comparing this to Annie Hall (it's my biggest and certainly most recent Woody Allen touchstone since I watched it for the podcast), which this film and so many romcoms since are clearly aping, and I'll also say that I didn't find that film to be particularly negative, about romance, at least. If my memory serves me correct, Allen's character accepts that the relationship with Keaton wasn't meant to be and moves on (to make a play about his experiences, but still moves on). I think that's pretty positive.

I didn't find this film to be particularly life-affirming, either. It's just kinda nothing, that's why I found it to be bland. It's another romcom where a beautiful woman falls in love with a huge asshole with a stupid philosophy for no discernible reason other than he's there and is handsome / funny. 99% of romcoms use this really tired formula and I guess I just didn't find the writing or humor to be anywhere close to Annie Hall or other romcoms that I actually do like (I'm really not much of an Annie Hall fan, either, but there's a big difference in quality here, IMO).

As much as I love Chungking Express, now that I've seen WHMS I feel like In the Mood for Love would've been the better film to follow up with. Not especially funny but ItMfL is a very unique take on the romance genre and one of my favorite films, so maybe I'm a bit biased there :P .

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