Nora Ephron, the prolific Oscar-nominated writer/director of classic films like When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle died yesterday in New York City after a long battle with leukemia, according to the Washington Post. She was 71.
While I wouldn’t call myself a fan of Ephron, her impact on cinema as a trailblazer for female filmmakers is unquestionable. After breaking through in the early 80s with films like the hard-hitting Meryl Streep-drama Silkwood and Heartburn, she gained prominence in the late 80s and early 90s for her work on the iconic comedies Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally, both which netted her Oscar nominations.
When Harry Met Sally in particular, stands as one of the beacons in a genre that has become bogged down in clichés, and remains a personal favorite of mine. Although her later films, including Mixed Nuts, Michael and You’ve Got Mail weren’t able to match the success of those two classics, she bounced back in a big way with her final film Julie & Julia which was both a critical and commercial hit.
Outside her writing and directing work in Hollywood, Ephron was an accomplished novelist, reporter, and essayist for Esquire and New York Magazine among her other talents. She is survived by her husband, screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi (whose book Wiseguy was the basis for Goodfellas) and two sons, Jacob and Max Bernstein.
As a final nod to her supreme talent as a screenwriter, here’s the classic climactic scene from When Harry Met Sally.