Gone too soon. We lost a wonderful writer yesterday in the passing of Nora Ephron, whose legacy includes films such as When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and Julie & Julia, to name a few. I admittedly have not seen or read all of her works, but I felt I would be remiss if I didn’t pay tribute to her today in the only way we here at People’s Choice know how – by highlighting some of my favorite moments scripted by the beloved writer.
It’s safe to say that many of us were introduced to romantic comedies through When Harry Met Sally. I can still remember how badly I wanted Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) to wind up together in the end. And while there are countless memorable scenes in the film (most will note the infamous fake orgasm scene in the diner) the one that stuck with me most was the culmination of the film when Harry is running through the streets of Manhattan, desperately trying to get to Sally before midnight to profess his love for her. And then he breathlessly delivers his speech where he highlights all the annoying little things he loves about her – my heart melts just thinking about it. I also really love the karaoke scene in the Sharper Image (“Surrey With The Fringe On Top”) when Harry runs into his ex, along with the scene where Sally is lamenting the fact that she is going to turn 40 – some day – and sobs uncontrollably in Harry’s arms, leading ultimately to the first time they sleep together – followed, of course, by the hilarious contrast of expressions on their faces the next morning with Sally floating in the clouds and Harry running for the door. Obviously, I could go on, but the point is that the film is chock full of great moments, many of which I find myself still quoting to this day (I literally cannot say “pecan pie” without channeling Harry). It is undoubtedly one of my all time favorites, and the one I will most remember Nora by.
Then there was Sleepless in Seattle. I admittedly haven’t seen it nearly as many times as Harry/Sally, but it’s still one that I would not flip past while channel surfing. Also starring Meg Ryan, this time opposite Tom Hanks, it’s yet another heart warming romantic comedy that proved Nora was far from a one hit wonder. I’m sure it will come as no surprise that my favorite moment in the film is at the end, the long awaited meeting at the top of the Empire State building. It so cleverly starts out as a major let down, when merely seconds before Annie (Meg) makes it up to the roof, Sam (Hanks) and his son Jonah are already leaving – literally one elevator door closes while the other opens. But then young Jonah forgets his backpack, which forces him and his father to go back upstairs where Annie is still standing, having noticed the forgotten backpack and hoping for/anticipating their imminent return. And all is right again with the world. So satisfying when they finally come together – ah, the perfect ending to another perfect romantic comedy.
And lastly, there is Julie & Julia. While Meryl Streep has rightfully deserved all the praise she received for delivering the perfect portrayal of Julia Childs, equal attention should be paid to the fact that Ephron scripted a uniquely brilliant screenplay in which we follow two parallel stories in two separate time periods that weave together seamlessly and make for the most interesting biopic I’ve ever seen. So many great moments to recount but my favorite by far is when Paul (Stanley Tucci) lovingly says to Julia (Meryl) on Valentine’s Day at the dinner table with friends: “Anyway, so there we were in China, just friends having dinner, and it turned out to be Julia. It turned out to be Julia all along. Julia, you are the butter to my bread, and the breath to my life. I love you, darling girl. Happy Valentine’s Day.” I mean, need I say more?? I got teary eyed just typing that. Sheer brilliance.
We’ve lost a talented gem of a person who brought laughter and tears to millions around the world, and she will be greatly missed.
Julie & Julia
Sleepless in Seattle
When Harry Met Sally