Posts Tagged ‘Nora Ephron’


Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail.


Number three on my list of Favorite Go-to Films is: You’ve Got Mail starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan (1998).

It’s the story of two book store owners – Joe Fox, who owns the mega-chain Fox Books and Kathleen Kennedy, proprietor of the children’s book store Shop Around the Corner. The two have found each other online (a very novel concept in the late 90s) but they also know – and dislike – each other in person. The thing is they don’t know the online people are also the in-person people. And then there’s the problem of Joe putting Kathleen out of business.  Directed by Nora Ephronand based on the 1940 film Shop The Around the Corner with Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan, You’ve Got Mail is oh-so-charming and quite funny.

OK, so the costumes aren’t showy in this romantic comedy, but they are certainly of the era and appropriate for the characters. Costume designer Albert Wolsky says that he was striving for a studious look for Kathleen. Covering four seasons in the Upper West Side of New York City, we see Kathleen in jumpers and opaque tights, skirts with Oxford shirts, khaki slacks paired with a white t-shirt and a grey cardigan. Colors are muted and the silhouettes are simple. Wolsky says that Kathleen is not a fashion plate. Kathleen’s dress in the final scene is a Marc Jacobs and the only designer brand used.

It’s rare for me to have extended laugh-out-loud moments while watching movies, but co-stars Parker Posey (Joe’s self-focused girlfriend) and Dave Chappelle (Joe’s business assistant) are hilarious in just a few brief scenes. I enjoy these actors and I always rewind their scenes for the laughs. Dabney Coleman as Joe’s cad-of-a-father is also pretty funny as is Jean Stapleton, Kathleen’s spirit-guided accountant.

We’ve got charm, humor, books, and gorgeous NYC street scenes. What’s not to like?



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Photo: Richard Aiello

Photo: Richard Aiello

Once I read a story about a butterfly on the subway and today, I saw one. It got on at 47th and off at 59th where I assume it was going to Bloomingdale’s to buy a hat, which will turn out to be a mistake as almost all hats are.

– Kathleen Kelly, children’s book shop owner and fictional character in the 1998 film, You’ve Got Mail. Screenplay by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron.

Clearly, the Ephron sisters were not hat gals.

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I gasped when I heard that Nora Ephron had passed away. I’m not a gasper, but Ms. Ephron was special.

Of course I’ve seen many of her films (You’ve Got Mail is one of my favorites), but it was just a couple of years ago that I read her books.

It started with an excerpt in Elle magazine from Ms. Ephron’s 2010 collection of personal essays, I Remember Nothing. In Elle she shared her experiences working in the 1960s as a mail girl at Newsweek and a reporter at the New York Post. I devour stories about women journalists from that era. It was a different world back then; not easy for women but their struggles make great stories and Ms. Ephron was a funny and natural storyteller.

Plus there was a photo (see above) of her looking fabulously chic and smart standing inches away from Robert Kennedy. I love the handbag in particular, which is ironic because Ms. Ephron hated handbags as she wrote in her 2006 memoir, I Feel Bad About My Neck –

“I hate my purse. I absolutely hate it. If you’re one of those women who think there’s something great about purses, don’t even bother reading this because there will be nothing here for you.”

Well I do think purses are pretty great, but I kept reading and became enamored of Ms. Ephron, her honest dry humor, and her master crafting of a good essay.

For a week last summer I was home from work with a nasty cold and I happened to have I Feel Bad About My Neck on CD. For most of one day I sat up in bed and listened to Ms. Ephron chatting away just as if she were sitting in the corner keeping me company. She talked about writing, about her family, and the big love of her life – her NYC apartment. I’d doze and rewind, doze and rewind. Snuggled up right next to me the entire time was my cat, Mr. Pru.

It was a memorable day, actually. Especially since, as it turned out, those were some of the last close moments I’d have with Mr. Pru, who at 18 years old was near the end of his life. Unexpectedly I had to put him to sleep not two weeks later.

That is one nasty cold I will always remember fondly. Part of the memory is Nora Ephron’s charming voice filling my bedroom, like a comforting visit from a friend.

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