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The Bomb Squad: How RiffTrax Revives Bad Movies

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RiffTrax

Mike Nelson remembers the goat movie. It came toward the end of a long day spent screening film prints in an attempt to curate material for RiffTrax, a venture he started in 2006 to provide mocking commentary tracks for movies too insufferable to sit through on their own.

There is not a high rate of return on the piles of reels found in garages or on eBay. Most are worse than bad—they’re boring and inert, offering nothing to satirize. This appeared to be the case for Zlateh the Goat, a strange 1970s short about a small boy who braves a snowstorm with the family goat in an attempt to sell it in the town market.

“It was grim,” Nelson tells mental_floss. “The family is starving. They send the kid out in the snow with the goat.”

There is endless footage of the boy collapsing in the snow, goat in tow. (“Cormac McCarthy added a few more laughs to this story and called it The Road,” the cast later observed.) Nelson was prepared to get out the scissors—a tool used to symbolically detach the RiffTrax crew from excruciating films by snipping them in half—when he looked up and saw the boy, delirious with hunger, drinking milk from the goat’s teat.

This, Nelson says, is what’s known at RiffTrax headquarters as “magic time,” a moment when a movie or short film proves its value as something riff-worthy without any sense of self-awareness. Some of the writers began to stand up and cheer.

“He was squeezing those teats,” Nelson recalls. “It was a great reward.”

The end of Mystery Science Theater 3000 in 1999 created a chasm in the business of mocking bad movies. For 10 seasons, the cable series created by comedian Joel Hodgson riffed on long-forgotten genre films like The Incredible Melting Man and Space Mutiny. The screenings were ostensibly because Hodgson (playing a janitor named Joel Robinson) had been shot into space by mad scientists and was forced to endure them. To keep himself company, he built two sarcastic robots with a vast database of pop culture references.

Hodgson left midway through its run; Nelson, the show’s head writer, became its host, playing a genial space refugee named Mike Nelson. Fans debated who was better. (It was eventually decided both were about equally adept at talk therapy for crap movies.)

The show was a cult hit, nourishing one of the internet’s earliest and most devoted online fan communities, but never reached the summit of commercial success. When the SyFy channel declined to pick the show up for another season, lifelong Minnesota native Nelson headed to Los Angeles.

“It was like going over a cliff,” he says. “It just ended. I’m not a guy with a lot of foresight or vision. I just knew I liked the very specific kind of comedy writing we were doing.”

Nelson shot a pilot for AMC titled Movie Trailer: he drove around in a camper and visited the sites of classic film locations. “It was just a hosting gig. I think we went to where Bill Murray shot Groundhog Day. It was fun and I was sad when it didn’t go anywhere, but 99 percent of pilots don’t.”

He busied himself writing books (Mike Nelson’s Movie Megacheese) and columns for TV Guide and Home Theater magazine. Around 2003, he decided to investigate the possibility of recording commentaries for mainstream movies and allowing viewers to sync up a compact disc with the film. It was an attempt to bring the MST3K treatment to major Hollywood productions, which are often as deserving of ridicule as any of the B movies Nelson and the 'bots had screened in the past.

At the time, Nelson had been working with a restoration and colorization company called Legend Films, providing alternate tracks for some of their more obscure titles. The relationship led to the formation of RiffTrax in 2006, with MP3s replacing the fading CD format as the delivery system. “We did a lot of testing with the syncing, and I was surprised at how well it worked,” Nelson says.

Choosing a film for RiffTrax’s debut proved uncomplicated. Nelson was fond of Patrick Swayze’s output, particularly his 1989 action-drama Road House. Swayze stars as Dalton, a philosophical bouncer who cleans up a rowdy highway saloon with balletic grace. “God knows why, but I had written a couple of songs about it on MST,” he says. “I have some kind of connection to it. A friend was in the Gulf War and we sort of communicated through Road House. It was the only movie in his command tent.”

The Road House track was welcomed by MST3K fans, although there was something missing: Nelson recorded the track solo and absent of any of the framework that gave his character motivation to endure cinematic Ipecac. “You sound like a madman making jokes to yourself. But if you have a couple of guys, you’re trying to make each other laugh.”

Nelson had already produced several installments of a project titled The Film Crew with Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett, two writers on MST3K. (Murphy also voiced Tom Servo, the gumball machine-shaped robot.) With that venture tied down in legal complications, he pitched them on coming aboard RiffTrax. Soon, the trio were scoffing at titles like Battlefield: Earth and Batman and Robin while remaining loyal to B titles like Rollergator.

The popularity of titles, Nelson learned, often correlated with the movies people were most likely to have sitting on their DVD shelves. A Lord of the Rings riff would be downloaded often; a track for the barely-seen Charlize Theron vehicle Aeon Flux would go ignored.

While a portion of potential customers avoided riffs because of syncing requirements (“Some people just didn’t want to figure it out,” Nelson says), the model became ideal for movies that would never be made available for ridicule. Since RiffTrax only sells a recording of people talking about a movie (priced at $3.99), there are few legal hassles.

Mostly. When Nelson released a track for the famously awful The Room in 2009, he got a call from director and star Tommy Wiseau. “He thought we were just taking his stuff,” Nelson says. “We actually wanted to get in touch with him and couldn’t, so it wound up being great for us.”

Nelson took the opportunity to ask Wiseau if they could riff on his movie during a live show. “He said, ‘Never, never, never,’” Nelson remembers. “Six years later, he said, ‘Okay.’”

While Nelson, Corbett, and Murphy remain the principal performers for RiffTrax, the process of deconstructing a bad movie requires a larger net of comedians. The company currently employs two additional full-time writers, Conor Lastowka and Sean Thomason, and three part-timers to help with the riffing.

The group is scattered throughout the country, Nelson having returned to Minneapolis and Lastowka in Vermont. Once a movie has been targeted, it’s given a time code—to match the jokes with the correct millisecond of on-camera action—and broken up into 15- or 20-minute chunks that are assigned to individual writers.

“I try to break it down to a couple minutes at a time,” Lastowka says. “People assume we watch it in real time. We don’t. It’s the same moments, and we just sit and think about the weird choices being made.”

Once the writers have pieced together a fractured riff, Nelson, Corbett, and Murphy go through a rehearsal with the assembled sections. A movie may only be watched once or twice in its entirety before recording, though an assigned chunk could be viewed until catatonia sets in. “It’s probably 10 business days of slogging through it,” Nelson says, resulting in an average of one joke every 10 seconds.

Some of the most popular riffs, like the Harry Potter series, can become a challenge of sameness. “You wind up watching Hagrid for 17 hours,” Nelson says. “You’ve said everything there is to say.” Another killer: bloated action movies with minimal dialogue and a grim determination to render viewers numb. “We get requests to do The Dark Knight Rises or Man of Steel and the running time is 2 hours and 40 minutes,” Lastowka says. “No one can muster the enthusiasm.”

That tedium appears to be broken whenever someone discovers something as abhorrent as Zlateh the Goat. Uncovering obscure films made in earnest and introducing them to the world appears, at least to Lastowka, to be more satisfying than sifting through The Matrix sequels. “When we found Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny,” he says, “it was February, and we knew we were going to release it closer to Christmas. And it was just, ‘My God, the world needs to see this now.’ It’s like an ugly baby.”

In August 2009, RiffTrax presented their first live show. The film was the royalty-free Ed Wood disaster Plan 9 From Outer Space. Nelson, Murphy, and Corbett had a live audience in Nashville and beamed the riff into theaters around the country through Fathom Events, a distributor that also arranges theatrical simulcasts of operas.

“That was kind of our pivot point,” Nelson says. “The live shows were a way to reach out and get outside of the internet business. And [all of us] came from live performance.”

After several successful engagements with Fathom, RiffTrax decided to hunt bigger game: a live take on the 2008 film Twilight, adapted from the Stephenie Meyer series of novels about brooding vampires that still stands as the company’s best-selling MP3. Before approaching the film’s studio, Summit Entertainment, with an offer to license the movie, RiffTrax raised capital via Kickstarter. They garnered nearly $265,000 in a little over a month.

Summit was ultimately too wary of letting their lucrative Kristen Stewart-led franchise be mocked, which led to RiffTrax approaching Sony with a sack full of crowdsourced funds for 1997’s bug disaster movie Starship Troopers. “Sony surprised us,” Nelson says. “We sent them a sample of what we do and said, ‘Whatever you’re thinking we’ll do to your movie will not come to pass.’ It’s not dark [criticism]. And they got it.”

The August 2013 showing of Starship Troopers led to other Sony and Kickstarter-funded shows, including Anaconda and Godzilla. While the taped riffs remain their core business, RiffTrax CEO David Martin says the live events (over 20 to date) have been a tremendous success. “We’ll hit a million [tickets sold] by the end of the year,” he says. Through October 2015, RiffTrax has netted over $8 million in revenue for the live engagements.

The Sony arrangement is also likely to lead to more cooperation in the future. “What you can expect,” Martin says, “are bigger titles from more studio partners.”

Their next live show, however, won’t be dependent on misguided filmmaking. On June 28, the RiffTrax performers will join their former colleagues at Mystery Science Theater 3000 for a reunion show that will precede a Kickstarter-funded revival of the original—produced by Hodgson—that’s due in 2017.

“Joel is coming,” Nelson says. “Along with all of my old pals Trace [Beaulieu], Frank [Conniff], Mary Jo [Pehl] and Bridget [Nelson], who is not an old pal but my wife.”  

Nelson calls it a “low pressure” evening intended to give everyone involved a good luck send-off in their respective ventures. For RiffTrax, that includes a new app that will listen for a sound cue in a riffed movie and automatically sync the commentary without the user having to do it manually. “That’s been in development since day one,” he says.

There are few holy grails of content left, although Nelson bemoans stationary targets like Over the Top remain just out of reach for live riffs. “Sylvester Stallone would have to personally sign off on it, and who wants to make that call?”   

Instead, RiffTrax’s expansion efforts are likely to involve new methods of distribution, not necessarily new mediums—although they have gotten offers for private performances.

“Someone,” he says, “wanted us to riff their wedding video.”

All images courtesy of RiffTrax.

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23 Things David Letterman Invented for Our Amusement
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Mike Coppola/Getty Images

This week, nearly three years after bidding farewell to Late Night, David Letterman is making his triumphant return to the small screen via Netflix with My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman (where he'll interview two people who need no introduction: Barack Obama and George Clooney). If the series is anything like Letterman's career thus far, you can expect plenty of innovation.

Here are 23 recurring bits, features, and moments that the former Indiana weatherman (and his writers) invented for our amusement.

1. THE SHORT, NON-TOPICAL MONOLOGUE

Carson Productions, as in Johnny Carson’s production company, co-produced Late Night with David Letterman, and as the upcoming lead-out programming for The Tonight Show, it was important to Carson’s people that Letterman not copy Carson. Letterman’s people were told that among other things, they couldn’t have a sidekick sitting next to the host like Ed McMahon, a band with horns like Doc Severinsen’s, or a monologue. So instead, Letterman opened his show by standing in front of the audience and viewers at home with “opening remarks,” a monologue consisting of just one or two jokes with weird imagery, like tattoos melting in warm weather.

2. POST-INTERVIEW INTERVIEWS

On February 3, 1982—his third-ever broadcast—Late Night conducted two interviews with baseball hall-of-famer Hank Aaron: One was a standard talk show back-and-forth between host and guest. The other occurred after that conversation ended, where NBC Sports reporter Al Albert (son of Marv Albert) asked Aaron how he felt his last few minutes with Letterman went, with the idea that it was the equivalent of a post-game interview.

3. STUPID PET TRICKS

“Stupid Pet Tricks” began on Letterman’s short-lived but Emmy-winning morning show, and was a consistently popular segment on both Late Night and The Late Show. The idea came from original head writer Merrill Markoe, who "remembered how in college my friends and I would be hanging around in the evenings, talking, and drinking. One form of constant entertainment was to put socks on this one dog. Everyone I knew did some version of a silly thing like that with their pets, so we ran an ad to see if we could pull a segment together like that."

4. WORLD’S LARGEST VASE CONTESTS

After questioning people who claimed to have the “world’s largest vase” over the phone in what New York Magazine described as a “longish” segment, the vase was brought into the studio and displayed on Late Night from May 30 through June 2, 1983. On its third night, a 35-inch radio transmitting tower was added to the case when it was discovered that it was shorter than one in Canada. On its final night of national exhibition, Letterman read alleged letters from children addressed to the Vase, and the vase “spoke” to wish for peace for mankind.

5. CATCHPHRASE CONTESTS

Two on-air catchphrase contests, which aired a little over a month apart in the summer of 1984, gave lucky studio audiences the power to make “They pelted us with rocks and garbage” the first rallying cry, before it was displaced by "I do and do and do for you kids, and this is the thanks I get!"

6. A CAMERA FROM THE HOST'S P.O.V.

The February 15, 1982 installment of Late Night began with one continuous five minute and 17 second take through Letterman’s P.O.V. called “Dave Cam.” Cameos included that night’s guest Andy Rooney, Merrill Markoe, and Calvert DeForest, who played Larry “Bud” Melman on Late Night, as “Bert the Human Caboose.”

7. A CAMERA FROM THE GUEST’S P.O.V.

Letterman favorite Tom Hanks was the first wearer of the “Late Night Guest-Cam.” Hanks was on the show the night of December 12, 1985 to promote The Money Pit, which was initially supposed to debut the next day, but would be delayed until the following March. “The Late Night Sky-Cam” makes a cameo.

8. A CAMERA FROM A MONKEY’S P.O.V.

After a false start with a 30-year-old chimp named Bo, who was too small to handle the camera, “Monkey Cam” got its start on March 19, 1986. Zippy, who was on the cover of The Ramones' Animal Boy album, would return on roller skates with the “Late Night Monkey Cam Mobile Unit.”

9. PURPOSELY FUNNY TOP 10 LISTS

The very first Top Ten—“The Top Ten Things That Almost Rhyme With Peas"—aired on September 18, 1985, as a satire of the random lists publications like Good Housekeeping were starting to produce at the time. Credit for who thought up the idea for Late Night is disputed; over the years, head writer Steve O’Donnell, former head writer and longtime SNL scribe Jim Downey, Late Night writer Randy Cohen, and producer Robert Morton have all gotten some or all of the credit. Top Ten made it to the end of Late Show’s run, even though the writers were already tiring of it by the February 6, 1986 show, which had the Top Ten list “Top Ten Reasons to Continue the Top Ten Lists Just a Little Longer.”

10. WEARING SUITS OF VELCRO, ALKA-SELTZER, MAGNETS, SPONGES, SUET, AND FOODS

On February 28, 1984, Letterman slipped into a “Suit of Velcro” and ushered in an era of strange outfits including a magnet get-up, which Letterman wore to attach himself to a huge GE fridge. Lowering himself into a 1000-gallon tank of water, Letterman’s suit of Alka-Seltzer fizzed and vaporized. There were also suits of suet, marshmallows, chips, and Rice Krispies, the latter of which made David “snap, crackle, and pop” in a large tub of milk. An influence was Steve Allen, the original host of The Tonight Show, who threw himself into Jell-O vats on television. Allen’s “Man on the Street” interviews were also something Letterman took to new levels of absurdity.

11. HOSTING A SHOW ABOARD AN AIRPLANE

Late Night’s fourth anniversary was celebrated onboard a flight from New York City to Miami.

12. AN EPISODE THAT ROTATES 360 DEGREES

Writers Randy Cohen and Kevin Curran came up with the unique way to celebrate the 800th episode of Late Night. NBC received “several hundred” phone calls about the December 9, 1986 show from viewers complaining that it was giving them headaches, dizziness, and nausea. Carson Productions executives were apparently not informed of the stunt beforehand and were reportedly “furious.”

13. FEUDING WITH BRYANT GUMBEL

After Letterman interrupted an August 19, 1985 broadcast of Today co-hosted by Bryant Gumbel, Gumbel called out the Late Night host for being “unprofessional” and didn’t publicly forgive him for four years. (Letterman claimed it was a Today producer who invited him to pull the stunt.)

14. FEUDING WITH OPRAH WINFREY

In the 16 years between Oprah's 1989 appearance on Late Night and her December 1, 2005 Late Show interview, rumors swirled about a feud between Winfrey and Letterman. The reasons why—and even if—there was a “feud” at all remain unclear.

15. CO-HOSTING AN EPISODE WITH A CORNY MORNING SHOW THEME

On February 27, 1985, Letterman shared hosting duties with “Tawny Harper Reynolds,” with guests Michael Palin, a Pet Psychic, and an exercise segment with Carol Channing.

16. AN HOUR-LONG PARODY OF 1970s PRIMETIME VARIETY SHOWS

“Dave Letterman's Summertime Sunshine Happy Hour” graced the NBC airwaves on the night of August 29, 1985. Early in his TV career, Letterman wrote and was a part of the cast of The Starland Vocal Band Show.

17. AN HOUR-LONG PARODY OF CHRISTMAS SPECIALS

December 19, 1984’s "Christmas With the Lettermans," featuring Pat Boone, won Late Night a 1985 Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Variety, Music or Comedy Program.

18. "CUSTOM-MADE" SHOWS

On November 15, 1983, Late Night relinquished control of the show to the audience, giving them a choice on everything from the furniture to the theme song. On March 27, 1984’s version, the show opened with the theme to Bonanza, the announcer was the New York Lieutenant Governor, and Jane Pauley was interviewed in a dentist's chair.

19. DUBBING A RERUN FROM ENGLISH TO ENGLISH

When the February 17, 1986 episode re-aired on September 25th of that year, 250 confused viewers called the network. After 60 hours and four professional dubbers, everyone on the episode (Raquel Welch was the main guest) magically had different voices. Even Letterman's voice was dubbed (by Speed Racer's Peter Fernandez).

20. 4 A.M. SHOWS

May 14, 2004’s Late Show was taped at four in the morning, on purpose. Amy Sedaris, rat expert Robert Sullivan, and Modest Mouse were the guests. Letterman rode a horse, Sedaris gave an unsafe late night tour of her neighborhood, and Modest Mouse played in their pajamas.

21. DEDICATING MOST OF AN EPISODE TO A DECEASED COMEDIAN AND HIS FAMILY

Letterman invited Bill Hicks’s mother, Mary, to appear on the January 30, 2009 episode to apologize face-to-face for not airing Hicks’s controversial October 1, 1993, stand-up performance. In February of 1994, Hicks passed away from pancreatic cancer at age 32. After talking to Mary, Letterman finally presented Bill’s set.

22. DEDICATING AN ENTIRE EPISODE TO A COMEDY HERO

On the first new Late Show after Johnny Carson's passing, Letterman's monologue was filled with jokes that the retired Carson had anonymously submitted to David over the years. Long-time The Tonight Show executive producer Peter Lassally and bandleader Doc Severinsen were that night's only guests.

23. THE ‘WILL IT FLOAT?’ GAME

The first installment of “Will It Float?” was on February 6, 2002. A brick of Velveeta cheese sank. Dave got it right, whereas Paul got it wrong.

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15 Fun Facts About When Harry Met Sally
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Nora Ephron's most beloved romantic comedy opened in theaters more than 25 years ago. We'll (still) have what she's having.

1. HARRY AND SALLY WERE MODELED AFTER DIRECTOR ROB REINER AND SCREENWRITER NORA EPHRON—EXCEPT FOR THE FALLING IN LOVE PART.

Rob Reiner divorced fellow director Penny Marshall in 1981 after 10 years of marriage. When he met with Nora Ephron in the mid-1980s, he pitched a number of ideas for movies, including a comedy based on his dating experiences. Ephron agreed to write it after extensively interviewing Reiner. The two had many discussions about how men and women view sex, love, and relationships differently.

2. THOSE SWEET "HOW WE MET" INTERLUDES THROUGHOUT THE MOVIE ARE REAL LOVE STORIES.

Reiner interviewed elderly couples about how they fell in love in preparation for the movie. He hired actors to re-tell their stories on the big screen.

3. NORA EPHRON HATED THE TITLE.


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It was extremely difficult for Ephron to settle on a title for her screenplay. She tried several, including Boy Meets Girl, How They Met, and Harry, This Is Sally. Reiner eventually turned the naming process into a contest among the crew members. Whoever picked the title would win a case of champagne. We don't know who came up with When Harry Met Sally, but let's hope he or she shared all that bubbly.

4. IN THE SCRIPT'S FIRST DRAFT, HARRY AND SALLY DIDN'T END UP TOGETHER.

Ephron felt that was the most realistic ending, but hey, this is the movies!

5. REINER ALSO FELL IN LOVE BY THE END OF THE MOVIE.


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During filming, Reiner was introduced to photographer Michelle Singer by the film's director of photography. The two married in 1989, the same year When Harry Met Sally came out. Reiner has said that finding his own happy ending helped make one for Harry and Sally more believable.

6. BILLY CRYSTAL AND MEG RYAN WEREN'T THE FIRST CHOICES FOR HARRY AND SALLY.


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Albert Brooks turned down the role of Harry, because he thought the movie was too reminiscent of Woody Allen. (Brooks also turned down the lead role in Big and Pretty Woman. D'oh!) Rob Reiner initially wanted Susan Dey of the TV show L.A. Law to play Sally. He also considered Elizabeth Perkins from Big and Elizabeth McGovern from Ordinary People. John Hughes movie queen Molly Ringwald was nearly cast, but declined due to a scheduling conflict.

7. MOLLY RINGWALD DID EVENTUALLY PLAY SALLY ALBRIGHT, THOUGH.

In 2004, the popular film was adapted into an unpopular stage play on London's West End. Luke Perry (yes, really) and Alyson Hannigan from How I Met Your Mother played Harry and Sally in its first run and were later replaced by Michael Landes from Final Destination 2 and Molly Ringwald.

8. MEG RYAN SORT OF PAVED THE WAY FOR JULIA ROBERTS.


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Ryan's first leading role would've been as Shelby in Steel Magnolias, but she turned down the part to play Sally instead. Another up-and-coming actress named Julia Roberts took her place and later starred in Pretty Woman—another part Meg Ryan turned down.

9. BILLY CRYSTAL AND ROB REINER HAVE BEEN GOOD FRIENDS SINCE 1975.


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Reiner and Crystal met when they played best friends on All in the Family. Many conversations between Harry and his best male friend Jess, played by Bruno Kirby, were inspired by the friendship between Crystal and Reiner. So were the scenes in which Harry and Sally watch the same movie from different apartments. Bromance, anyone?

Meanwhile, Carrie Fisher, who plays Sally's best female friend Marie, was BFFs with Reiner's ex-wife Penny Marshall. Hmmm, wonder if that ever got awkward...

10. THE SPLIT-SCREEN SCENES ARE AN IRONIC HOMAGE TO 1959'S PILLOW TALK.

At the time Pillow Talk was made, the Motion Picture Production Code, also known as the Hays Code, set moral guidelines for all the films released by major studios. Movies weren't allowed to show a couple in bed (or bath or beyond) together, or any sort of sexual relationship between unmarried partners. (The code was abandoned in 1968.) Harry and Sally were kept apart to show how close they were as "just friends.

11. REINER'S MOTHER, ESTELLE, HAD ONE LINE—AND IT WAS PROBABLY THE MOVIE'S MOST MEMORABLE.

She's the older woman who says, "I'll have what she's having" at Katz's Delicatessen. The American Film Institute ranked it #33 in its list of the top 100 movie quotations. The famous line wasn't in the original script. Crystal suggested it after he and Ryan improvised the entire scene. The two were originally supposed to discuss "faking it" without an actual demonstration.

12. KATZ'S IS PROUD OF ITS FAMOUS SCENE.

This sign appears above the table where it was shot:

13. CRYSTAL IMPROVISED THROUGHOUT THE MOVIE.

Watch closely at 0:29; Ryan laughs out of character and looks at Reiner off-camera. The director decided to keep the scene.

Crystal also improvised much of the scene when he admits he loves Sally, including the line, "When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible." Swoon.

14. THE REAL-LIFE BOOKSTORE WHERE HARRY AND SALLY MEET FOR THE THIRD TIME INSPIRED ANOTHER EPHRON MOVIE.

Harry and Sally finally become friends when they spot each other at Shakespeare and Co. on Broadway and 79th. When the store closed after a Barnes & Noble opened on the Upper West Side, Ephron was inspired to write a romantic comedy around the David and Goliath struggle between local stores and large national chains. You've Got Mail came out in 1998, nearly a decade after when Harry Met Sally.

15. NO ONE EXPECTED WHEN HARRY MET SALLY TO BE A HIT.

The film was up against the summer blockbusters Batman, Ghostbusters II, Licence to Kill, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. When Harry Met Sally opened in just 41 theaters on July 12, grossing $1 million. It opened nationwide July 21. And the rest is romantic comedy history.

Additional Source: DVD Commentary by Nora Ephron and Rob Reiner

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