Cinema lovers are in mourning following the news that Nora Ephron, a pioneer of the romantic-comedy cinematic genre, has died at age 71 after a long battle with leukaemia.
The Oscar-nominated screenwriter, director and essayist introduced us to some of the most likeable romantic heroines of the past three decades; strong, entertaining females portrayed in award-winning performances by actresses including Meg Ryan, Cher and Meryl Streep.
Having directed eight feature films with screenplay credits on even more, Ephron was nominated for three Academy Awards (for Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally, and Sleepless in Seattle) during her career. Her smart romantic comedies were often described as ‘sharp-edged’ and she was one of the first filmmakers to introduce golden era pop songs and ballads of the 1950s to great effect, such as her memorable inclusion of Nat King Cole’s “Stardust” in Sleepless in Seattle.
As sad fans reflect on Ephron’s intelligent mix of pathos and humour, it is guaranteed that your local video store (assuming they’re still frequented) will be fresh out of her greatest hits over the next week. Or maybe, like me, you have a video cassette version of When Harry Met Sally without the necessary VCR player, we have compiled five of the most memorable scenes from Nora Ephron’s contribution to the silver screen for you to enjoy. Tissues optional.
Sleepless in Seattle
This memorable scene takes place when Sam (Tom Hanks) is coerced to converse with talkback radio host Dr Fieldstone by his son Jonah who is concerned that his dad is lonely. Although he’s resistant at first, he ends up telling the Doc about how much he loved his deceased wife, and his hopes for finding love in the future (here’s looking at you Annie (Meg Ryan). How this manages to be so sweet without being totally lame is a miracle and testament to Ephron’s instinctive sentimental touch.
Inspired by a true story, Ephron wrote this screenplay about Karen Silkwood, a worker at a plutonium processing plant who was contaminated, psychologically tortured and possibly murdered to prevent her from exposing the plant’s safety violations. Both Meryl Streep and Cher who star in this movie were nominated for Academy awards for their powerful performances as two strong, passionate female characters.
When Harry Met Sally
AKA The Holy Grail Of Rom Coms. Starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, the diner sequence is the most iconic scene of the whole movie – if not one of the best known movie scenes of all time. The one-liners delivered by the lady at a neighbouring table became so well known the Manhattan deli in which the scene was filmed declares itself: “Where Harry met Sally… hope you have what she had!”
You’ve Got Mail
Starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks (again), Kathleen and Frank fall in love on the internetz in a far more charming and safe fashion than present day internet affairs (hi Chatroulette!). Famous for her creation of engaging comic dialogue, Ephron’s characters try to guess the meaning behind the screen name of Kathleen’s cyber love interest “NY152”.
Julie & Julia
Starring Meryl Steep giving a rather hilarious performance as renowned cookery genius Julia Child, the movie follows her life intertwined with that of food blogger Julie Powell, as she attempts to cook all the recipes in Child’s first book (which she did IRL in 2002). This was the last film Nora worked on.
Words By Nikki Brogan