Shout Factory celebrates the 30th anniversary of Rob Reiner's When Harry Met Sally... with a new Blu-ray release that includes a new picture struck from a 4K scan of the original camera negative and a new special feature of a conversation between Reiner and Billy Crystal.
Opening with white titles on a background as an instrumental version of “It Had to Be You” plays, it's not a surprise the film, a romantic comedy about the relationship between a Jewish man and a Gentile woman, set mostly in New York City, gets compared to Woody Allen's work, particularly Annie Hall. But regardless of the similarities, When Harry Met Sally... is a sweet, funny love story.
Harry Burns (Crystal) and Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) meet in 1977. He's the boyfriend of her friend, and after graduation, they drive from the University of Chicago to New York City 1977. He has a dark side, always reads the last page of a book first so he knows how it ends in case he dies. She has a sunny disposition and knows exactly how she wants things as evidenced by her precise ordering in restaurants. She hopes they can be friends, but he says, “Men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way,” regardless of if they have it.
Five years later, they briefly reunite on an airplane. He is getting married and she is in a relationship. Five more years go by. They meet at a bookstore and both of their relationships are over. They begin a friendship, and over time, they grow to care about each other. One night, the sex part gets in the way and alters their relationship.
Conversations between Reiner and screenwriter Nora Ephron about men and women's view of relationships led to the main characters being extensions of them. The film has little action and is predominantly characters sitting around talking but the subjects and perspectives are amusing as they are interesting. Plus, the cast deliver very good performances.
The material has a universality to it. For example, a few years after Harry learned that all women fake orgasms (the film's most iconic scene thanks to Ryan's fearless performance and the scene's final line, “I'll have what she's having.”), Seinfeld's fifth season premiered with “The Mango” in which Jerry learns that Elaine faked all hers with him.
The Blu-ray has been given a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. With the new 4K Scan, the image presents a pleasing amount of grain and is free of dirt and defect. The colors come through in strong hues, such as the orange leaves as they walk through Central Park. Skin tones skew a tad red. Depth is solid and focus is sharp.
The audio is available in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, which is more than this title needs. The dialogue is clear throughout and anchored in the front center. The music and minimal ambiance can be heard in the surrounds. Not much is asked of the subwoofer. There's no signs of age or defect on the track.
The special features include “Scenes from a Friendship” (HD, 45 min) is a new conversation with Reiner and Crystal about the film and their relationship. Some of the anecdotes will be repeated throughout the vintage featurettes, which appear in SD. There is an audio commentary by Reiner and one with Reiner, Ephron, and Crystal. “How Harry Met Sally...” (33 min) from 2000 presents cast and crew discussing the film and its creation.
“It All Started Like This” (20 min) pairs Reiner and Ephron talking the film's origin. Was interesting that she liked original ending where the Harry and Sally didn't get together. “What Harry Meeting Sally Meant” (12 min) finds critics Thelma Adams and Richard Roeper added to the talking heads singing the film's praises. “I Love New York” (8 min) focuses on production designer Jane Musky. “So, Can Man and Women Really be Friends?” (8 min) talks about the idea with a sociology professor and sex therapist joining in. “Creating Harry” (6 min) is about the character. “Stories of Love” (5 min) looks at the film's framing device. “When Rob Met Billy” (4 min) reveals their meeting on All in the Family and how they remained friends. There are seven Deleted Scenes (7 min), the Theatrical Trailer, and Harry Connick Jr. music video for “It Had To Be You” (3 min).
When Harry Met Sally... is a romantic-comedy classic filled with a lot of humor. There's a timelessness to the material because of its honest look at the differences between men and women which seem to still hold true today. It's one of the best films on the resumes of everyone involved with it. Shout Factory delivers a Blu-ray that will please viewers because the high-def video looks quite good, the audio seems accurate to the source. and there's lots of extras to explore.