‘When Harry Met Sally …,’ ‘Iron Man’ enter National Film Registry



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When Billy Crystal learned that “When Harry Met Sally …” had been added this year to the National Film Registry, his response was one sure to be shared by rom-com aficionados everywhere.

“My initial reaction was, ‘What took so long?’” Crystal told The Washington Post with a laugh. “In some way I thought, ‘Wait, isn’t it in already?’ I mean, it’s a lovely thing.”

Director Rob Reiner’s ubiquitous 1989 romantic comedy, starring Crystal and Meg Ryan as longtime friends in the ultimate will-they-orwon’t-they tale, is among 25 movies selected for the registry’s 34th annual slate of films, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced Wednesday.

Hayden’s selections, which must be at least 10 years old, were made in consultation with members of the National Film Preservation Board and other experts. Members of the public also suggested films for the Library of Congress’s pantheon of movies — picked for their “cultural, historic or aesthetic importance” — through an online submission form.

In a statement, the Library of Congress cited “significant public support” behind the selection of “When Harry Met Sally …,” as well as four other additions: the poignant 1972 documentary “Betty Tells Her Story”; 1976’s supernatural horror romp “Carrie”; the 1989 Disney animated classic “The Little Mermaid”; and 2008’s “Iron Man,” the first movie from the box-office-dominating Marvel Cinematic Universe picked for the registry.

“‘Iron Man’ was the very first film Marvel Studios independently produced,” Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige said in the statement. “It was the first film that we had all of the creative control and oversight on and it was really make or break for the studio. … The notion that here we are, almost 15 years after the release of ‘Iron Man,’ and to have it join the Film Registry tells us it has stood the test of time.”

The oldest film added this year is 1898’s “Mardi Gras Carnival,” which was thought to be lost before a copy was recently discovered at the Eye Filmmuseum in the Netherlands. The newest selection is Dee Rees’s 2011 microbudget drama “Pariah,” one of at least 15 films in this year’s class directed or co-directed by filmmakers of color, women or LGBTQ filmmakers.

Also among the selections, which bring the number of films in the registry to 850: transgressive icon John Waters’s 1988 comedy “Hairspray”; Gordon Parks Jr.’s 1972 Blaxploitation staple “Super Fly”; and 1950’s “Cyrano de Bergerac,” for which José Ferrer became the first Hispanic actor to win the best actor Oscar.

From the archives: How that scene from ‘When Harry Met Sally…’ changed the way we talk about sex

“When Harry Met Sally …” is the third film in the registry directed by Reiner and featuring Crystal, alongside the 1984 rockumentary parody “This Is Spinal Tap” and 1987’s fairy-tale cult classic “The Princess Bride.” Calling Reiner a “maestro of comedy and human emotion,” Crystal cited the “honest” and “simple” story of “When Harry Met Sally …” for its enduring impact.

“We have no superheroes,” Crystal said. “We have no special effects. We have a lovely script, a terrific cast and wonderful director, some great music, and a story that still touches people over and over again, because one thing that is for sure is that people fall in love, and some have trouble staying there or realizing that they’re in love. That’s the universality about this movie.”

The movie is the first in the registry written by Nora Ephron, the journalist and filmmaker also celebrated for such rom-com classics as “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail.” Ephron, who died in 2012 at 71, wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for “When Harry Met Sally …” after Reiner pitched the overarching idea but wanted a female perspective to shape the story.

“When I was lucky enough to get Nora, I got, I think, the best observer of the male-female relationship from a female perspective that I could have ever gotten,” Reiner told The Post. “I think she would have been thrilled [by the honor], absolutely thrilled. She always said, ‘Life is copy.’ She thought of it through a journalist’s prism. So I think to be to be honored this way, she would’ve said, ‘Well, I got it right.’”

Films selected for the 2022 National Film Registry

Mardi Gras Carnival (1898)

Cab Calloway Home Movies (1948-1951)

Cyrano de Bergerac (1950)

Behind Every Good Man (1967)

Betty Tells Her Story (1972)

Word Is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives (1977)

The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (1982)

The Little Mermaid (1989)

When Harry Met Sally … (1989)



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