As the story moves, with economical briskness, toward its conclusion, Harry’s assertion about friendship gives way to a more grown-up inversion of his idea, which is that maybe being friends is the best possible road to falling in love. As romantic-comedy premises go, that one is unlikely ever to go out of style. What has gone out of style is the thing that turns out to be the movie’s secret weapon: It’s a comedy that isn’t afraid of sadness. There’s a scene in which Harry and Sally are out for the afternoon, enjoying each other’s company, playing with the brand-newest technology of 1989, a karaoke machine for sale in The Sharper Image, when they run right into Harry’s gorgeous ex and her new guy. It’s a hard, nerve-shaking, mood-spoiling moment for Harry.
A variation on that scene has since occurred in many films, and in most of them, the Sally character gives some elaborate pulling-victory-from-defeat performance suggesting that she and Harry have a great new life, an action so over the top that it cements the guy’s love for her. Ephron and Reiner don’t do that. They just let the scene play out naturally, because they understood that the important thing about that moment is not redemption but pain and fear. It’s quickly followed by (with all due respect to “I’ll have what she’s having”) Ryan’s best moment, in which she reacts to the news that her own ex is getting married with an immense and genuinely touching crying jag, with Harry only half-able to console her. (“And I’m gonna be 40!” “When?” “Someday!” “In eight years.”) When each character hits rock bottom, they’re with each other, and we’re with them. The sad/scary undertow of every romantic comedy is “What if I’m not in a romantic comedy but a melodrama? What if it never works out for me?” By letting them — and all of us — feel that tug, the movie finds its stakes, and it also finds the punch line that has really made it last: At Harry’s and Sally’s lowest moments, we want what they’re wanting.
Game Show hosted by Jackie Gleason for CBS in 1961 where four panelists (Pat Harrington Jr., Pat Carroll, Jan Sterling, and Arthur Treacher) stuck their heads into a scene and had to guess what it was based on Gleason’s responses to their questions. The panelist who guessed the scene got 100 CARE packages donated in their name, while the packages were donated in Gleason’s name if nobody got it.
After the premiere on January 20, the show was blasted by nearly every critic in the country; viewers of the timeslot on January 27 saw Gleason sitting on a barren stage apologizing for (and making fun of) the show, chalking up its failure to “the intangibles of show business” and sharing memories of other failures he was involved in.
The apology was critically lauded, and Gleason finished out his network commitment with a one-on-one informal talk show entitled The Jackie Gleason Show, which ran until March 24. (x)
“1. The criminal must be someone mentioned in the early part of the story, but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to follow.
2. All supernatural or preternatural agencies are ruled out as a matter of course.
3. Not more than one secret room or passage is allowable, and such a passage may only be in a house or building for which it is appropriate by age or purpose.
4. No hitherto undiscovered poisons may be used, nor any appliance which will need a long scientific explanation at the end.
5. No Chinaman must figure in the storynote .
6. No accident must ever help the detective, nor must he ever have an unaccountable intuition which proves to be right.
7. The detective must not himself commit the crime.
8. The detective must not light on any clues which are not instantly produced for the inspection of the reader.
9. The stupid friend of the detective, the “Watson”, must not conceal any thoughts which pass through his mind; his intelligence must be slightly, but very slightly, below that of the average reader.
10. Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them.”—
In 1928, the writer Father Ronald Knox created a “Ten Commandments” of plot devices (Knox’s Decalogue) that more or less codified the rules of the Fair-play whodunnit (x)