Revisiting the Classics: When Harry Met Sally

  • Tuesday, January 23, 2024 / 7:00 PM - 9:30 PM (PST)
  • Pollock Theater
  • Screening Format: Sony 4K digital projection (95 minutes)
  • With Meg Ryan (actor) and Brad Silberling (director)
  • Director: Rob Reiner
    Starring: Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, Carrie Fisher

Written by Nora Ephron and directed by Rob Reiner, When Harry Met Sally (1989) set the standard for romantic comedies in the late twentieth-century. The film boasts a stellar cast including Billy Crystal, Carrie Fisher, and Bruno Kirby, but it was Meg Ryan who clearly made this genre her own, memorably revisiting the form in Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and You’ve Got Mail (1993). The film follows Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) over the course of twelve years following a fateful drive from Chicago to New York. Initially reluctant travel companions, they forge an unlikely relationship through chance meetings, bonding over witty discussions of love and relationships. Its autumnal New York setting, sharp dialogue, and pitch perfect performances have cemented the film as a timeless American classic.

For this special event, actor Meg Ryan joined director Brad Silberling for a pre-screening discussion of romantic comedy and the enduring legacy of When Harry Met Sally. 


Headshot of Meg Ryan. She has shoulder length blonde hair, which is curled into a wavy style. She wears a black dress, is smiling and posed in front of a white neutral background.

Actor Meg Ryan

Meg Ryan’s comedic appeal was widely recognized in her first Golden Globe-nominated performance as Sally Allbright in When Harry Met Sally. She went on to star in Nora Ephron’s hit romantic comedy Sleepless in Seattle opposite Tom Hanks, garnering a second Golden Globe nomination. Her last collaboration with Ephron and Hanks was the romantic comedy You’ve Got Mail, which once again gained Ryan international recognition and her third Golden Globe nomination.

Ryan can most recently be seen in her return to the romantic comedy genre in Bleeker Street’s What Happens Later. The film – which she directed, wrote, and stars in opposite David Duchovny – was shot in Bentonville, Arkansas, during intense COVID protocols. What Happens Later is Ryan’s second film as director; her first was the 2015 independent film Ithaca.

Acclaim has also come to Ryan for her distinctive dramatic portraits, including her role opposite Denzel Washington as the first military woman nominated for a Medal of Honor in Courage Under Fire, directed by Ed Zwick, and her moving portrayal of a wonderful woman with a drinking problem in Luis Mandoki’s When a Man Loves a Woman, opposite Andy Garcia. For her performance opposite Kiefer Sutherland in the Sundance Institute’s Promised Land, she earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination.

Ryan exhibits her versatility and natural charm in every role she plays. Ryan’s recent film credits include Cheryl Hines’ Serious Moonlight penned by the late Adrienne Shelley; the remake of George Cukor’s 1930 film The Women; Jonathan Kasdan’s In the Land of Women; and Steven Schachter’s The Deal. Her additional film credits include City of Angels, Addicted to Love, French Kiss, Against the Ropes, In the Cut, Kate and Leopold, Proof of Life, Hanging Up, Hurlyburrly, I.Q, Anastasia, Innerspace, My Mom’s New Boyfriend, D.O.A, The Presidio, Joe Versus the Volcano, The Doors, Prelude to a Kiss, Flesh and Bone, Restoration, and Ithaca.

A Fairfield, Connecticut, native, Ryan embarked on her acting career after studying journalism at New York University. She made her motion picture debut as Candice Bergen’s daughter in Rich and Famous, and attracted the attention of moviegoers and critics in her 1986 performance as a fighter pilot’s wife in Top Gun. In 2011, Ryan traveled to Cambodia with journalist Nick Kristof as part of the groundbreaking PBS documentary series Half the Sky.

Headshot of director Brad Silberling. It depicts a man with shoulder length hair in a black button up shirt against a neutral background. He is smiling and is wearing a black twine necklace.

Moderator Brad Silberling

Director/writer/producer Brad Silberling’s work has traversed feature films and television throughout his career. His most recent film is the suspense drama An Ordinary Man starring Ben Kingsley. His prior features include City of Angels, starring Meg Ryan and Nicholas Cage; Moonlight Mile, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, and Susan Sarandon; Lemony Snickett’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, starring Jim Carrey and Meryl Streep; 10 Items or Less, starring Morgan Freeman; Land of the Lost, starring Will Ferrell; as well as his debut film, the family classic Casper, produced by Steven Spielberg. In television, his growing stable of hit series include the critically acclaimed comedy Jane the Virgin; Emmy-winning Netflix romance Dash and Lily; the period drama Reign; contemporary reboots Dynasty and Charmed; and the Disney Plus series Diary of a Future President. He is a graduate of the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television where he earned his master’s degree in production, following his bachelor’s degree in English from UC Santa Barbara.

 This event is sponsored by the Carsey-Wolf Center.

Revisiting the Classics

What happens when a film becomes a “classic”? The Carsey-Wolf Center’s 2023-24 feature series Revisiting the Classics engages creatively and critically with our filmic past, approaching it with fresh eyes and novel interpretive lenses. Not simply a celebration of the “great works,” Revisiting the Classics will consider how classic texts have shaped the work of contemporary filmmakers, how complicated questions of politics and aesthetics emerge through practices of adaptation and interpretation, and how the changing landscape of film distribution, archiving, preservation, and critique affects the formation of canon and the making of new “classics.”

Storytelling for the Screen

Since their emergence, cinema and television have been in a state of constant technological and industrial flux. But even as our ways of distributing and accessing moving images have changed, and even as tastes and styles continue shifting with the times, our passion for compelling onscreen storytelling persists. At the Carsey-Wolf Center, we are committed to fostering a nuanced understanding of cinematic and televisual storytelling across genres, formats, styles, and historical periods. To this end, we sponsor a wide range of events, programs, and workshops designed to cultivate a new generation of media storytellers, and to help audiences better understand the evolving role of narrative across diverse media forms.