- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 27, 2012

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Nora Ephron’s characters were highly verbal and hyper-analytical. They had a head for the absurd and a heart for romance. But above all, they were funny.

To honor the writer and director, who died of leukemia Tuesday at 71, we’re devoting the Five Most space to her this week. But Ephron wrote so many classic and quotable lines, we’re choosing 10 instead of five. We probably could have chosen 10 from “When Harry Met Sally …” alone.

1. Still the funniest line from any movie Ephron wrote: from 1989’s “When Harry Met Sally …”: “I’ll have what she’s having.” It’s delivered by an onlooker (director Rob Reiner’s mother) after Ryan launches into a raucous fake orgasm at a packed Katz’s Delicatessen after Billy Crystal insists that no woman has ever faked it with him. Crystal actually came up with the line, according to lore, but it’s such a crucial piece in Ephron’s canon that we have to include it.


2. Also from “When Harry Met Sally ….” In a different restaurant, before the fake orgasm scene, Ryan insists she’s had great sex with a guy named Sheldon.

Crystal: “Shel? Sheldon? No, no, you did not have great sex with Sheldon.”

Ryan: “I did too.”

Crystal: “No you didn’t. A Sheldon can do your income taxes, if you need a root canal, Sheldon’s your man. But humpin’ and pumpin’ is not Sheldon’s strong suit. It’s the name: `Do it to me Sheldon, you’re an animal Sheldon, ride me big Shel-don.’ Doesn’t work.”


3. The big New Year’s Eve speech Crystal delivers to Ryan at the end of “When Harry Met Sally ….” This is vintage Ephron in a nutshell.

“I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”


4. From 1998’s “You’ve Got Mail,” which Ephron wrote and directed, when Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are walking through a farmer’s market ruling out the people they won’t date.

Hanks: “I could never be with someone who likes Joni Mitchell. `It’s clouds illusions I recall/I really don’t know clouds at all.’ What does that mean? Is she a pilot? Is she taking flying lessons? It must be a metaphor for something but I don’t know what it is.”


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