The Story Of That Quotable Pecan Pie Line In ‘WHEN HARRY MET SALLY’

Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal in WHEN HARRY MET SALLY.

Courtney Howard // Film Critic

One of my all time favorite scenes in any film is in WHEN HARRY MET SALLY. No, no. It’s not the very real sounding fake orgasm star Meg Ryan manages to pull off in the middle of a very crowded Katz’s Deli. That might be the scene everyone still talks about, but my favorite is a slightly more reserved, but massively funny sequence when Harry and Sally are in a museum and they converse about too much pepper on paprikash and “pecan piiiie.” Take a look:

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the legendary romcom’s release. Whilst making an appearance on THE VIEW back in 2014 (the film’s 25th Anniversary), Billy Crystal revealed that the scene was an ad-lib and Meg’s look off to the side before she imitates him, was her befuddled look to director Rob Reiner. Crystal said:

“That scene was all improvised. I didn’t tell Meg I was gonna do this. I said to Rob and Nora Ephron [WHEN HARRY MET SALLY screenwriter], ‘I have an idea that he starting to fall in love with her, but they don’t know it. When you start to get friendly with someone, you start doing a cute voice. So I had this idea for a guy who would [launches into the voice] talk like this to her.’ And Rob said, ‘Just go!’ You saw her look off to the right? She looks at Rob to go, ‘What is going on?’


He continued,

“I love that scene. To me, it’s the most romantic scene in the movie before the ending of the film when I run to her on New Year’s Eve because he asks her out on a date in that voice. She says, “no” and he sort of flirts with her.”

If you haven’t seen the film, what the heck have you been waiting for? And if you have seen the movie, but not in a long time, you owe it to yourselves to re-watch this classic. It remains relevant and resonant.

WHEN HARRY MET SALLY opens the TCM Festival on April 11, 2019.

About author

Courtney Howard

Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, CCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.