Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal in 'When Harry Met Sally' (Columbia/courtesy Everett Collection)
Famed writer/director Nora Ephron passed away at the age of 71 last night from pneumonia. The New York-born Ephron had recently been diagnosed with leukemia. Best known for her romantic comedies like "When Harry Met Sally," "Sleepless in Seattle," and "You've Got Mail" — movies that set the bar for that particular genre — and more recently for movies like "Bewitched" and "Julie & Julia." She was also a three-time Oscar nominee in the Best Original Screenplay category, and for good reason. No matter what the subject matter of the film was, movies written by Ephron always featured memorable, witty, and funny dialogue.
Here are some memorable movie quotes from Nora Ephron films.
"When Harry Met Sally"
This Rob Reiner-directed, Ephron-penned romantic comedy is the rom-com by which all other rom-coms are measured. Can men and women ever really be just friends? The film follows Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan), two friends looking for love in New York who may have already found it in each other — though neither one of them seems willing to admit it. Powered by Ephron's strong script and funny performances from Crystal and Ryan, "When Harry Met Sally" is full of memorable moments and lines.
"I always read the last page of a book first so that if I die before I finish I'll know how it turned out." — Harry Burns (Billy Crystal)
(Something we've all probably wanted to do while reading a good book, minus the admitting your own mortality part.)
Then there is the line that caps off a scene that's probably more famous than the movie that contains it.
Over lunch at New York's famous Katz' Deli, Sally hilariously proves to Harry that he can't tell the difference between a real orgasm and a fake orgasm — by pretending to have one right there in the restaurant. Sally's display prompts an older customer to utter the now famous response:
"I'll have what she's having." - Estelle Reiner (the director's mom!)
And last but not least, arguably one of the most romantic lines in movie history delivered by Billy Crystal of all people.
"I love that you get cold when it's 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Year's Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible." — Harry Burns (Billy Crystal)
"Sleepless in Seattle"
This 1993 romantic comedy written and directed by Ephron proves that all it takes for love to flourish is the right confluence of elements. Take one recently widowed man named Sam (Tom Hanks), combine him with an unhappily engaged woman named Annie (Meg Ryan), throw in a plucky kid trying to help his dad, add a radio talk show confession, and you've got a recipe for romance!
In this quote, Annie's fiancée Walter (Bill Pullman) pretty much lays out the reason why she shouldn't marry him. Never settle for Pullman when you can have Hanks!
"Look, Annie... I love you. But let's leave that out of this. I don't want to be someone that you're settling for. I don't want to be someone that anyone settles for. Marriage is hard enough without bringing such low expectations into it, isn't it?" — Walter (Bill Pullman)
Hesitant to meet Annie (Meg Ryan) in person, Tom Hanks' character illustrates how Glenn Close's disturbing performance in "Fatal Attraction" traumatized an entire generation of men.
"I am NOT going to New York to meet some woman who could be a crazy, sick lunatic! Didn't you see Fatal Attraction?" — Sam (Tom Hanks) to his son, who he wouldn't let watch "Fatal Attraction."
Although it's a little boring to boil down love and fate to simple psychology, Annie's brother Dennis makes a very good point: be it the result of chemicals in the brain or a chance encounter, some things are just meant to be.
"When you're attracted to someone, it just means that your subconscious is attracted to their subconscious, subconsciously. So what we think of as fate is just two neuroses knowing that they are a perfect match." — Dennis Reed (David Hyde Pierce) to his sister Annie (Meg Ryan)
"You've Got Mail"
In addition to being surprisingly funny and charming (and reteaming Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan for the billionth time), this late '90s rom-com directly addressed society's weariness about this newfangled thing called "the Internet." Hanks and Ryan play rival bookstore owners who despise one another in real-life, but unwittingly fall in love with each other via anonymous email exchanges online. "You've Got Mail" is also one of the finest examples of product placement ever, as it was essentially one giant commercial for Internet provider AOL. Written and directed by Ephron, the film features no shortage of memorable lines.
Ironically uttered by big box bookstore owner Joe Fox (Hanks), this cynically funny line rings true to this day.
"The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don't know what the hell they're doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self. — Joe Fox (Tom Hanks)
Email will never be as romantic as it was in "You've Got Mail." Ryan's line also illustrates something we may have lost in the intervening years since the film's release. Will a "tweet" or "like" ever hold the same value for people?
"What will NY152 [Hanks' web nickname] say today, I wonder. I turn on my computer. I wait impatiently as it connects. I go online, and my breath catches in my chest until I hear three little words: You've got mail. I hear nothing. Not even a sound on the streets of New York, just the beating of my own heart. I have mail. From you." - Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan)