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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal, and Rob Reiner Celebrate Opening Night of the 2019 TCM Classic Film Festiva

Thursday, April 11, Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal were in attendance for the 30th anniversary screening of When Harry Met Sally at opening night of the 10th annual Turner Classic Movies Film Festival. Every year the TCMFF opens with a film that has either been recently restored or is celebrating a special anniversary. You never know what the genre might be, but you certainly know it's going to be a memorable film. And if possible, the individuals responsible for the film's success are on hand for a Q&A. In this case, the must-see romantic/comedy of the 1980s celebrating the 30th anniversary did just that. And TCM Host, Ben Mankiewicz was on hand to moderate the Q&A where Ryan, Crystal, and the film's director, Rob Reiner, discussed the legendary film.

Mankiewicz guided the conversation through an entertaining evening of the "hows" of creating such an iconic movie. The panel was full of hilarious anecdotes, including how many of the scenes were worked out for maximum comedic effect. Some moments were very well thought out and others were achieved entirely by accident. These "happy accidents" included how the cast shot the memorable four-way phone call with fellow actors Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby. It was far more complicated than you think, given the lack of CGI sophistication now commonly used in films. (You can use either the photo below, or the underlined names above as links to see the conversation for yourself).

The conversation then steered to a dissection of what is possibly the most iconic scene of the movie: Ryan's fake orgasm in the middle of NYC's world-famous Katz's Deli. Reiner guided Ryan through many, many takes (many more than what's usual for a feature film) before getting the perfect performance. And, of course, Reiner explained the decision to give his own, real-life mother the hysterical line with which Crystal made up, "I'll have what she's having". Over the years, this immortal line, has been used as an homage in many movies and Television shows, becoming a meme to which every generation connects and immediately understands, even if they have no idea of its origin. That in itself is a remarkable legacy of which any writer would be proud. The writer in this case was the wildly successful Nora Ephron, who would later work with Ryan, then time as both writer and director, on You've Got Mail.

Much more was said during the special conversation (which only the VIP and Spotlight pass holders experienced live and in person), but I can share with you one more Crystal and Reiner interchange about their long lasting friendship. The two talked about how they became friends, and why they never lost the special bond they share. It's unique to Hollywood that two collaborates have maintained such a long lasting relationship. And even more unique that the two actually like each other. It's the special in person moments like this that make the TCMFF an event classic film lovers flock to year after year. I personally haven't missed a single year since the festival began. Nor do I intend to miss any in the future. Because the way I see it, my bond with the TCMFF is a friendship I plan to foster for many years to come. No doubt, there are many, many TCM devotees who feel the same way.

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