Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Nora Ephron (1941-2012)

It would be a fair statement that Nora Ephron, writer-director-essayist who died Tuesday due to battleS with leukemia, reinvented the romantic comedy.  The much maligned genre was given a shoot of adrenaline in the late 80s with her screenplay of When Harry Met Sally.  The Rob Reiner directed film that starred Billy Crystal and catapulted Meg Ryan into immediate America's sweetheart mode set a modern standard in a witty, neurotic fashion, and demonstrated an even-handed battle of the sexes-- one could argue it was one of the first mainstream Hollywood movies that dealt with messy, unorthodox couplings, albeit one played for brevity.  Of course, Ephron had other accomplishments before and after, including the screenplay for the Mike Nichols film Silkwood, and penning the roman a clef Heartburn, chronicling her troubling first marriage-- she made that into a film that starred Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson.  After the success of When Harry Met Sally, Ephron wrote and directed Sleepless in Seattle, a modern homage to the Cary Grant/Deborah Kerr romance An Affair to Remenber, cemented the cinematic union of Ryan and Tom Hanks as the romantic comedy couple of 1990s-- they all followed with 1998's online yarn You've Got Mail, both still rank as two of the top grossing romantic comedies to date.  Her most film was the well received Julia Child biopic Julie & Julia, which earned star Meryl Streep an Oscar nomination.  She received three Oscar nominations for Best Original Screenplay (Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless) and her success and groundbreaking work as a successful female director, filmmaker and American humorist secure her cinematic legacy.

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