Movies
2:52 pm
Sat May 19, 2012

The Movie Dustin Lance Black's 'Seen A Million Times'

Originally published on Tue July 17, 2012 10:53 am

The Weekends on All Things Considered series Movies I've Seen A Million Times features filmmakers, actors, writers and directors talking about the movies that they never get tired of watching.

For writer-director Dustin Lance Black, whose credits include Milk, J. Edgar, and his new film, Virginia (now out in theaters), the movie he can't get enough of is Rob Reiner's When Harry Met Sally.


Interview Highlights

On why he's seen the movie so often

"It doesn't matter how many times you watch it, it's always interesting and you're always identifying with a different scene in the movie. At least I am. And the hope is that you're always progressing to a later and later scene in the film so that one day, you may get to the end and you may be running through Manhattan on New Year's Eve to kiss the person you truly love, and you know you love them and they love you in return, and you're aiming for that."

On his favorite scene

"If this movie is on TV or on pay-per-view or on an airplane recently I saw it again, I always check in to see how I'm progressing and unfortunately, it seems that I'm always returning to the Carrie Fisher- Rolodex-scene in the movie where you're looking for somebody new."

On why he relates to "the Rolodex scene"

"Far too often I find myself in that position and you're just screaming inside saying, 'No, no, no, it's not about that, there's something more magical than a Rolodex in the park,' and you find yourself in tears. [The movie is] speaking to such basic truths about matchmaking and love that I think it's withstood the test of time."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

GUY RAZ, HOST:

It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.

We've been asking filmmakers, actors and writers and directors about the movies that have changed their lives, the ones they watch over and over and over again, including this one from the Oscar Award-winning writer of the movie "Milk."

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DUSTIN LANCE BLACK: My name is Dustin Lance Black, and I'm a screenwriter-director. And the film that I've seen a million times is "When Harry Met Sally" with Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal, and directed by Rob Reiner. I probably saw "When Harry Met Sally" for the first time in college. So I was aligned right with the first scene of the movie.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "WHEN HARRY MET SALLY")

MICHELLE NICASTRO: (as Amanda) Oh, hi, Sally. Sally, this is Harry Burns. Harry, this is Sally Albright.

BILLY CRYSTAL: (as Harry Burns) Nice to meet you.

BLACK: You meet these two characters. They're wrapping up their college years and going to move to New York.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "WHEN HARRY MET SALLY")

CRYSTAL: (as Harry Burns) Why don't you tell me the story of your life?

MEG RYAN: (as Sally Albright) Story of my life?

CRYSTAL: (as Harry Burns) We've got 18 hours to kill before we hit New York.

RYAN: (as Sally Albright) The story of my life isn't even going to get us out of Chicago. I mean, nothing's happened to me yet. That's why I'm going to New York.

BLACK: (Unintelligible) decades or half decades, at least.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "WHEN HARRY MET SALLY")

CRYSTAL: (as Harry Burns) Staying over?

RYAN: (as Sally Albright) Yes.

CRYSTAL: (as Harry Burns) Would you like to have dinner? Just friends.

RYAN: (as Sally Albright) I thought you didn't believe men and women could be friends.

CRYSTAL: (as Harry Burns) When did I say that?

RYAN: (as Sally Albright) On the ride to New York.

CRYSTAL: (as Harry Burns) No, no, no, no, I never said that.

BLACK: And you keep catching up with them as they run into each other and move from two people who don't seem to like each other at all, even though we as an audience know differently.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "WHEN HARRY MET SALLY")

RYAN: (as Sally Albright) Would you like to have dinner with me some time?

CRYSTAL: (as Harry Burns) Are we becoming friends now?

RYAN: (as Sally Albright) Yeah.

CRYSTAL: (as Harry Burns) Great. A woman friend. You know, you may be the first attractive woman I have not wanted to sleep with my entire life.

RYAN: (as Sally Albright) That's wonderful, Harry.

BLACK: As happens with many single friends who have become very intimate, they end up having sex, and then they have to backtrack from there. And then finally, finally, finally, they both realize at the same moment...

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "WHEN HARRY MET SALLY")

CRYSTAL: (as Harry Burns) I've been doing a lot of thinking, and the thing is I love you.

RYAN: (as Sally Albright) What?

CRYSTAL: (as Harry Burns) I love you.

RYAN: (as Sally Albright) How do you expect me to respond to this?

CRYSTAL: (as Harry Burns) How about you love me too?

BLACK: Here's the thing with "When Harry Met Sally," it doesn't matter how many times you watch it, it's always interesting, and you're always identifying with a different scene in the movie - at least I am. And the hope is that you're always progressing to a later and later scene in the film so that one day, you make it to the end and you may be running through Manhattan on New Year's Eve to kiss the person you truly love. And you know you love them, and they love you in return, and you're aiming for that.

And if this movie is on TV or on pay-per-view or - on an airplane recently, I saw it again, I always check in to see how I'm progressing. And unfortunately, it seems I'm always returning to the Carrie Fisher rolodex scene in the movie where you're looking for somebody new.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "WHEN HARRY MET SALLY")

CARRIE FISHER: (as Marie) I've got the perfect guy. I don't happen to find him attractive, but you might. She doesn't have a problem with chins.

RYAN: (as Sally Albright) Who is it?

FISHER: (as Marie) Alex Anderson.

RYAN: (as Sally Albright) Oh, you fixed me up with him six years ago.

FISHER: (as Marie) Sorry.

BLACK: Far too often, I find myself in that position and you're just screaming inside saying, no, no, no. It's not about that. It's - there's something more magical than a rolodex in the park, and you find yourself in tears.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "WHEN HARRY MET SALLY")

FISHER: (as Marie) Oh, wait, wait, wait. I got one.

RYAN: (as Sally Albright) Look, there is no point in my going out with someone I might really like if I met him at the right time but who right now has no chance of being anything to me but a transitional man.

FISHER: (as Marie) OK. But don't wait too long.

BLACK: It's speaking to such basic truths about matchmaking and love that I think it's withstood the test of time.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IT HAD TO BE YOU")

HARRY CONNICK JR.: (Singing) It had to be you, it had to be you...

RAZ: That's writer Dustin Lance Black talking about the movie that he could watch a million times, "When Harry Met Sally." He won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for "Milk." Black's new film, "Virginia," which he also directed, is in theaters now. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.