5 Fun Facts About You've Got Mail, the Greatest Movie of All Time
Yeah, we said it, Nora Ephron's 1998 film "You've Got Mail" is the greatest movie of all time. We watch it AT LEAST twice a month from August - December, and can recite almost all the dialogue by heart.
So sit back, relax with a cup of coffee (may we suggest a mug?), put on the 90s AOL dial up sound as background noise, and settle in for some fun facts about our favorite movie and the greatest film of all time.
It's loosely based on 1940 film "The Shop Around the Corner," which was based on a 1936 Hungarian play called "Parfumerie."
Serious Mailheads (is that what we're calling ourselves?) will know this, but "You've Got Mail" isn't quite a remake of 1940 film "Shop Around the Corner," but it's an interpretation of it, based on the original plot.
That film was based off a 1936 play called "Parfumerie" by Miklós László.
There was also 1949 musical "In the Good Old Summertime," starring Judy Garland. This was a musical version of "The Shop Around the Corner," and was based in Chicago (the original play and "The Shop Around the Corner" were both based in Budapest.
All of the above center around two bickering coworkers at a small shop - the female lead plays the upstart new star employee who outshines the old top salesperson, the male lead.
In our opinion, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan have WAY more chemistry than Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan, and the original's plot is kind of slow and one-note. The scene with Tom Hanks and Dave Chappelle spotting Meg Ryan outside the coffee shop before the blind date is taken word-for-word from "The Shop Around the Corner," which is a delightful little Easter egg.
Where can you stream or watch The Shop Around the Corner?
You can stream "The Shop Around the Corner" on HBO Max as of this writing.
Nora Ephron allowed the cast to ad-lib.
Now, this was a little shocking, as a director and writer like Nora Ephron doesn't seem like the type to let her cast ad-lib or improvise - her dialogue is so snappy and tight and in her own voice.
That being said, there were some Steve Zahn lines that were so weird and so quintessentially Steve Zahn that they just had to be improvised, right? "This place is a tomb. I'm going to the nut shop where it's fun," has to be from the brain of Steve Zahn, not the pen of Nora Ephron.
It's been reported that Ephron did a lot of fun cast lunches between Heather Burns, Meg Ryan, and Steve Zahn, who played the Shop Around the Corner employees, and encouraged them to hang out on and off set to foster a coworker-like atmosphere. She also allowed them to improv during the staff banter, like when they discussed cybersex and online dating.
You'll rarely see blue on screen in any sets or costumes.
Nora apparently hated the color blue and how it appeared onscreen, and tried very hard not to use it in her sets or costumes.
Nora Ephron was obsessive about details, down to the type of avocado in the caviar spread.
The infamous, "That caviar is a garnish!" scene is a showcase of Nora's obsessive attention to detail. According to Vanity Fair, when the propmaster brought in the appetizer spread for the scene, she asked him what type of avocados were cut up on the tray, and was kicking herself that she hadn't specified the exact variety in the script.
Nora looks at Jimmy Mazzola who was the prop manager and she says—she’s pointing at the avocados—and she says, “Jimmy, are these Hass?” And Jimmy goes, “Nora, they’re avocados.” He had no idea the difference between a regular avocado or a California avocado and a Hass avocado. And she said, “Did I write Hass in the screenplay?” And I said, “No, you didn’t.” And she went, “Oh, that is so sad.”
Crew members were cast in small parts and as extras, and if Nora cut an actor's role, she made it up to them later.
In an extraordinarily generous move, Nora cast crew members in small parts and as extras. (On many film sets, the crew isn't allowed to even look at or speak to the principals on set, let alone the director, so the head honcho being kind enough to give them a speaking role is almost unheard of).
One of the guys she loved [was] a young actor named Mike Badalucco—he played the elevator operator in You've Got Mail—and he was a prop guy who wanted to be an actor. And he was funny. And guess what? Nora cast him. In her mind, he wasn't Mike Badalucco the Prop Guy. It’s like, “Mike’s gonna start acting. Well, let’s see what he can do.”
Nora also made it up to actors if she cut a large part of their role. Nearly a decade later, she cast Deborah Rush in "Julie and Julia" to make up for cutting a large part of her role out of "You've Got Mail."