When Harry Met Sally… [30th Anniversary Edition] – Blu-ray Review
Film Title: When Harry Met Sally…
Release Date: 1989
Runtime: 96 minutes
Region Coding: Region A
Studio: Shout Select (Shout! Factory)
Audio Format: DTS-HD MA 5.1 & 2.0
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Formats Available: Blu-ray
Version Reviewed: 2019 Blu-ray Disc
Blu-ray Release Date: 01/08/19
Director: Rob Reiner
Cast: Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, Carrie Fisher, Bruno Kirby
“When Harry Met Sally…” was a 1989 romantic comedy, and is considered to be a modern classic in that genre. Rob Reiner directed this, son of Carl Reiner, who is best known for both his acting and directing such films as “This is Spinal Tap” (1984), “Stand By Me” (1986), “The Princess Bride” (1987), “Misery” (1990), “A Few Good Men” (1992), and “The Bucket List” (2007).
The screenplay to the film was written by Nora Ephron, best known for writing screenplays for films such as “Silkwood” (1983), “My Blue Heaven” (1990), “Sleepless in Seattle” (1993), “Mixed Nuts” (1994), “You’ve Got Mail” (1998), and “Julie & Julia” (2009).
The story here is that of a man named “Harry Burns” (Billy Crystal) and a woman named “Sally Albright” (Meg Ryan). The two first meet when she gives him a ride to New York City after the two graduate from college. Their car ride there is a bit awkward, especially after the conversation turns to questioning if men and women can truly be friends: without having sex. This really upsets Sally, and the two have their argument over it, but once they arrive in New York City decide to go their separate ways.
Despite trying to avoid one another fate has its way of bringing Harry and Sally back together in a chance encounter at an airport. Long story short, the two end up striking up a conversation afterward and become platonic friends. The two spend a lot of time discussing the differences between men and women, and telling each other the truths about the opposite sex. Times pass and Harry has his relationships with other women, Sally has her relationship with another a man, but eventually the two both end up single. Instead of considering to date one another they decide to go on a double date with their two best friends “Jess” (Bruno Kirby) and “Marie” (Carrie Fisher). Deep down we all know it should have been Harry asking Sally out for a date, and let’s just leave it at that.
“When Harry Met Sally…” is one of the most memorable romantic comedies to come out in a good fifty years, and is now celebrating its 30th anniversary since its original theatrical release. Even to those opposed to typical romantic comedies this can prove to be not only tolerable, but downright very enjoyable. As the film’s director discusses, everybody has to have a story, and that is what we get here: the story of Harry and Sally.
Movie Rating: 5 (out of 5)
According to the technical specifications listed on IMDb this was shot on 35MM film using Panavision cameras. “When Harry Met Sally…” is presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, as it was shown theatrically. This film, celebrating its 30th anniversary, has received a new 4K scan of the original camera negatives. It’s worth noting that this film featured Barry Sonnenfeld as the DP (Director of Photography), and includes some beautiful cinematography.
The new 4K scan brings us a much clearer and detailed visual presentation, appearing to have been restored. Closeups come with a large amount of detail, and every scene looks impressive. There’s a very healthy amount of film grain structure here, with not much signs of DNR (digital noise reduction) use. Some occasional imperfections are on the film print still, such as dirt specks but nothing at all excessive or bothersome. The color timing is very nice here, with mostly a bright cinematic style like this, and the flesh tones appear to be more accurate than before. The black level here is solid, and we get an impressive amount of an improvement here over the previous (original) Blu-ray.
“When Harry Met Sally…” is much more visually pleasing than ever before with this new “30th Anniversary Edition” Blu-ray and boy, oh boy, it finally does this highly respected romantic comedy the absolute justice that it deserves. It’s rare that a thirty year old film comes to Blu-ray looking this impressive, and dare I say perfect.
Video Quality Rating: 5 (out of 5)
Audio here is presented in both DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio surround and DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio Stereo. It’s worth noting that Harry Connick, Jr. did the musical arrangements here along with Marc Shaiman. The original music here sounds good, being primarily delivered from the front left and right channel speakers, with a very faint amount of real channel presence for the piano numbers.
The diner scene early on makes some decent use of the rear channels for ambient noise such as the other people eating, chattering, silverware hitting plates, and such. Dialogue is delivered spot-on from the very start via the center channel and requires no volume adjustments at all. As said, music is mostly delivered from the front left and right channel speakers and the same can be said for most of the sound effects.
Around 40 minutes in and the music finally gets a bit more rear channel presence than usual, which sounds pretty nice. 41 minutes in when the two characters are in a large spacious museum you’ll notice a slight sound of echoes and such to fit the atmosphere. This can be said for some scenes in larger apartment buildings or areas. It’s subtle but pretty effective surround. However, there really was not much bass here coming from the subwoofer all throughout the film. That’s a bit to be expected for a romantic comedy especially one that relies strongly on dialogue and the music being mostly subtle piano pieces.
The 5.1 lossless mix here is pretty solid and it does fit the film’s style. The stereo lossless mix is solid as well, and when put in a 2.1 configuration via my AV receiver I was able to hear a little bit more bass. Either lossless mix sounds good, whichever you decide to opt for.
Audio Quality Rating: 4 (out of 5)
Bonus materials on this release are presented in a variety of SD (standard definition) and HD (high definition) video with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound – unless otherwise noted below. They include the following:
- Audio Commentary by Rob Reiner, Nora Ephron, and Billy Crystal
- Audio Commentary by Rob Reiner
- NEW “Scene From a Friendship” (44:34 – HD) features a newly recorded sit down interview between the film’s Director (Rob Reiner) and one of the stars (Billy Crystal) as they look back on first and foremost their friendship, and working together on this film as well as others. This proves to be very, very informative and entertaining to get to see. I could listen to these two men talk for hours, and we thankfully almost get them talking for 45 minutes which is very cool. This featurette has DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo sound.
- “How Harry Met Sally“ (33:21 – SD) has fans discussing the film, as well as some more notable people like Rob Reiner (Director), Nora Ephron (Writer), Carrie Fisher (“Marie”), Billy Crystal (“Harry”), Meg Ryan (“Sally”), Martin Dell (Katz’s Deli, NYC), Gloria Gresham (Costume Designer), and Marc Shaiman (Musical Arrangements). This features your typical type of behind-the-scenes photography and videos, as well as clips from the film – all throughout between the interviews.
- “It All Started Like This…” (19:48 – SD) has the Writer (Nora Ephron) and Director (Rob Reiner) sitting down together and discussing how the film all came to be in a lengthy, informative, and entertaining conversation. This originally appeared on the 2008 DVD release, as did all of the featurettes or extras listed below.
- “What Harry Meeting Sally Meant” (12:29 – SD) features some reminiscing back about the significance of the film through some 2008 interviews with Nora Ephron (Writer), Rob Reiner (Director), Billy Crystal (“Harry Burns”), Thelma Adams (Film Critic), Richard Roeper (Film Critic), and Carrie Fisher (“Marie”). This includes some behind-the-scenes on set footage and photography, as well as obviously clips from the film.
- “I Love New York” (8:29 – SD) discusses how the film takes place in New York City. Included are interviews with Richard Roeper (Film Critic), Thelma Adams (Film Critic), Billy Crystal (“Harry Burns”), Nora Ephron (Writer), Jane Musky (Production Designer), Carrie Fisher (“Marie”), and Rob Reiner (Director).
- “So, Can Men And Women Really Be Friends?” (7:54 – SD) is self explanatory by the title, as it focuses on that very subject or rather question. This includes interviews with Rob Reiner (Director), Carrie Fisher (“Marie”), Billy Crystal (“Harry Burns”), Dr. Jane Greer (Sex Therapist), Dr. Andrew Beveridge (Professor of Sociology, Queens College), and Nora Ephron (Writer). This featurette originally appeared on the 2008 DVD release of the film.
- Deleted Scenes (7:24 – SD) aren’t framed correctly, as they are presented in 4×3 and essentially end up being inside a black frame instead of being displayed properly in widescreen. These really do however prove to be very funny, and worth the watch – if you’ve never seen them before.
- “Creating Harry“ (5:47 – SD) includes interview with Billy Crystal (“Harry Burns“), Rob Reiner (Director), Thelma Adams (Film Critic), Carrie Fisher (“Marie”), Nora Ephron (Writer), and Richard Roeper (Film Critic) discussing the character. The character really, as we learn, isn’t that far off from what the film’s director Rob Reiner himself was like at that point in his life.
- “Stories of Love” (5:10 – SD) includes an interview with Rob Reiner (Director), Thelma Adams (Film Critic), and Billy Crystal (“Harry Burns”). This focuses on the couple in the film (“Harry” and “Sally”) and love stories in general. Even the couples in the film are discussed, when are all telling real stories. It’s fun to learn how Rob Reiner actually ended up meeting a woman and falling in love while he was making this film.
- “When Rob Met Billy” (3:56 – SD) features interviews with Billy Crystal (“Harry Burns”) and the film’s director Rob Reiner, discussing how they originally met when Billy guest starred on an “All in the Family” episode. The two guys discuss their 30 year long friendship – at time of this being recorded, which was back in 2008. This also features glimpses at the film’s script, some on set photography and video footage as well.
- Music Video by Harry Connick Jr. (2:50 – SD) is for the song “It Had To Be You” – the theme to the film.
- Theatrical Trailer (2:12 – SD)
Overall the bonus materials on this new “30th Anniversary Edition” Blu-ray release are enough to leave you with a lot to enjoy after watching the film, even if you previously owned the film on DVD or Blu-ray. The new almost 45 minute-long sit down interview between Rob Reiner and Billy Crystal is a must-see for any fan of this film. There’s a bit over two hours in length of bonus materials here, and that doesn’t even count the audio commentary tracks.
Bonus Materials Rating: 4 (out of 5)
“When Harry Met Sally…” is considered one of most popular and influential romantic comedies of my lifetime, being in my late thirties. I have to admit to not being the biggest fan of the romantic comedy genre, yet this is absolutely one of my favorite films. It’s just a really great comedy, with the romance thrown in. The performances here from both Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan and downright unforgettable, as are the supporting performances by the late Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby. This is one of the many excellent films that director Rob Reiner has graced us with over the years.
It’s great to see this film, now celebrating its 30th Anniversary, finally get such a beautiful video presentation. That comes much thanks to the new 4K scan and restoration efforts (of sorts) done by the folks at Shout! Factory. The audio presentation proves to be solid, whichever the surround or stereo lossless mix you decide to listen in. The bonus materials include all of the original DVD and Blu-ray extras ported over and a new featurette with Rob Reiner and Billy Crystal. The old extras and the new featurette total up to over two hours in length, and that’s not including the two audio commentary tracks – which both prove to be worth giving a listen.
In terms of Blu-ray release, this gets:
5 (out of 5) for video quality
4 (out of 5) for audio quality
4 (out of 5) for bonus materials