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The Scroll

No. 33: When Harry Met Sally

The kinder, gentler, funnier Jewish romance

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1989, dir. Rob Reiner. We all know what this movie has going for it: Meg Ryan’s infamous fake-orgasm scene, over pickles and sandwiches at Katz’s deli. What it also represents is the moment when, anticipating Judd Apatow by 20 years, director Rob Reiner recast the contemporary Jewish man as a desirable romantic figure. Forget Woody Allen’s neurotic, passive-aggressive archetype; here instead is the kinder, gentler, funnier Billy Crystal, who can both be a friend and pull off a heart-stopping dip on the dance floor on New Year’s Eve, regardless of being shorter than his date in heels.

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What is the indication that Billy Crystal’s character is Jewish? Nowhere in the film is this stated. Even his last name doesn’t sound Jewish, not that it would make him Jewish if it did.

If you’re going to practice this rule where “Jewish actor = Jewish character”, great, but it has to apply to all Jewish actors, period. If so, wonderful, I’ll take that deal, anyday.

If the rule only applies to ugly Jewish comedians, though, thanks, but no thanks.


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No. 33: When Harry Met Sally

The kinder, gentler, funnier Jewish romance

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