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A Few Words About Nora Ephron

June 26, 2012

Yesterday I was thinking about Nora Ephron.

Nora Ephron is one of my heroes. She came to mind because I have been thinking about screenwriting, thinking about my favorite movies, thinking about When Harry Met Sally. I am preparing to write my first screenplay and reading a screenwriting book that I took out from the library.

As I lay in bed last night, before I dozed off, I remember thinking how inspiring Ephron is to me. When Harry Met Sally is my favorite movie of all time and has been since 2006. It has appeared in all of the major moments of my life.

When Harry Met Sally is the reason I decided to go to Middlebury College, in Vermont. In April of 2006, on a chilly Easter weekend, I had an overnight visit at Middlebury College. I stayed in Allen with two lovely freshmen girls who split me equally between them. At night, one of the girls gathered her friends and their prospies and we all decided to watch a movie in the Allen lounge. It was When Harry Met Sally.

I loved the movie from its opening lines. Looking back, when I had to make my decision, as odd or illogical as it may seem, I had a good feeling about Middlebury because I had a good feeling about When Harry Met Sally.

I’ve watched it with every boyfriend and best friend I’ve had. You might say it is a test of sorts, Later, the movie’s scenes of New York City stirred my desire to move here. And it also inspired the name of my blog, When Nutmeg Met Basil, named in homage to the great film, whose title I feel is one of the best. It is utterly memorable and evocative in its innocent simplicity.

Since that fateful first viewing, more than 6 months have never elapsed when I have not seen the movie. If you do the math, that means I’ve seen it all twelve times: the “I’ll have what she’s having” (the line delivered perfectly in the first take by director Rob Reiner’s mother); the evolution of curly hair from the seventies to the nineties; the “stupid, garage sale, wagon wheel coffee table”; “She’s supposed to be his rebound girl! She’s not supposed to be the one!,” Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal walking in the fall outside the American Museum of Natural History, and inside the Egyptian exhibit at the Met; “Men and women can never be friends”; “When you realize that you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start right now!”

It never gets old.

There is something ephemeral about the movie; I can’t put my finger on it, even though I try each time I watch it. Whether it is the classic one-liners that are actually surprisingly accurate jewels of relationship wisdom; the female lead who comes to NYC to start her career but finds a relationship far more difficult to secure, and with whom we all can identify; or the scenes of New York in fall, New York at Christmas, and New York in springtime, I cannot say.

All I know is that Nora Ephron nailed it.

Nora Ephron

Image via WaPo

She also wrote “You’ve Got Mail” and “Julie and Julia,” two other excellent films.

I cried when I read, a few moments ago, that she had passed away. I wasn’t expecting it. She was so young.

She died from “complications from the blood disorder myelodysplasia, which was diagnosed six years ago,” according to the Washington Post, at a hospital in New York. She was 71. Check out the story there for an in-depth obituary.

The beautiful thing is that for me and millions of other fans, though Ephron is gone, her work will live on in our minds. I know that When Harry Met Sally is never far from mine.

*Ephron’s essay, which inspired the title of this post, is here

6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 26, 2012 11:08 pm

    love this post! I couldn’t agree more–when harry met sally is an iconic nyc movie about love and life. we should watch it sometime soon because I havent seen it in forever!!

  2. Andrew Fuller permalink
    June 26, 2012 11:44 pm

    Your post is beautiful, Beth. She will be dearly missed.

  3. Gma Nessa permalink
    June 27, 2012 12:23 am

    She was one of my favorites, too. I also grieve her passing. Love GMA

  4. June 29, 2012 12:57 pm

    Thank you all! I am going to start watching all of her movies…it’s been about six months since I watched When Harry Met Sally so I will start with that!


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