Nora Ephron Was The Essayist You Wish You Could Be
By Alex Cranz
Nora Ephron was the first screenwriter I knew. I was a kid when When Harry Met Sally (there were orgasms in it so it was forbidden) and Sleepless in Seattle (never has stalking been so romantic!) came out and she often dominated the stories related to those films. When Ephron, the only person to pen a true “classic” romance in ten years set out to make a film people noticed. You had to. When Harry Met Sally was a modern comedy that still felt like it spun out of the same era that gave us Adam’s Rib and The Lady Eve. It was clever and a little controversial and essentially perfect.
A lot of her later work was middle of the road afternoon on TBS fare. As she grew older and took on the role of the Grand Dame of Romantic Comedies her output turned a little boring. The sharp edge of When Harry Met Sally, the audacity of Sleepless in Seattle, and the righteous fury of Silkwood disappeared.
But it was maintained in her essays. Before her career as a screenwriter and director she was a reporter and humorist and a defining voice of moderation in the feminist movement. For her everyone was a target and subject to criticism and her form of critique was scathing jokes fueled by a laconic wit. She took on the titans of second wave feminism and she rarely made apologies for it.
Ephron was a prolific writer, a creator of gender roles, a reinforcer of them, and a destroyer of them. And she was the first screenwriter I ever knew by name. As a kid she was who I aspired to be. An early hero for a six-year-old who wanted her parents to find love at the top of the Empire States Building.