Kids, you may not believe this, but some of us are old enough to remember when you used to have to connect to the Internet via 56k dial-up modems. Or that AOL was once the most popular Internet service provider, so popular that everyone recognized the cheerful "You've Got Mail" alert that sounded when you signed on. Or that the "You've Got Mail" greeting was a promise that there was something exciting waiting for you in your e-mail inbox, not just spam ads for Canadian Viagra. Don't believe us? There's a historical document you should check out, aptly titled, "You've Got Mail."
Warner Bros. / Everett Collection
It's been just 15 years since Nora Ephron's romantic comedy opened (December 18, 1998), but it seems like eons ago, not just because the Internet has evolved so much since then, but because we've all watched the unwitting romance between Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) and Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) -- business rivals by day, anonymous chat room paramours by night -- unfold so many times on TV or home video. Still, as often as you've seen it, there's probably plenty you don't know about the hit film, from all of its life-imitates-art-imitates life moments, to which member of Monty Python ended up being edited out of the movie.
Here's a list of 25 things you didn't know about "You've Got Mail."
1. "You've Got Mail" is a remake of the Ernst Lubistch classic "The Shop Around the Corner," in which hostile co-workers Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan don't realize that each is the other's amorous pen pal. (In "Mail," Kathleen Kelly's book shop is called The Shop Around the Corner, in homage to the 1940 film.) The same source material, Miklos Laszlo's play "Parfumerie," was also the basis for the 1949 Judy Garland movie musical "In the Good Old Summertime."
2. The idea to remake the film originated with executive producer Julie Durk, who brought the idea to her boss, producer Lauren Shuler Donner, who in turn optioned the property from Turner Pictures.
3. It was Shuler Donner who had the idea of updating the original story's pen pals to Internet chat room buddies. "The Internet affords you a great candor and intimacy. You can't be embarrassed because you don't know the person," she noted at the time of the film's release. "On the Internet, one may expose oneself further and faster in a relationship than one would normally in a face-to-face situation."
4. The producers hired screenwriting sisters Nora and Delia Ephron to write the updated script. Nora likened the Internet to New York, a huge city full of small neighborhoods full of like-minded people. "The Internet looks infinite," she noted. "But, like a great big city, it's really a series of villages, full of people who care about similar things connecting with one another."
5. It was Delia Ephron who had the idea of turning the notions shop of the original tale into a bookstore. Seeing a bookstore as a surrogate family of both employees and regular customers, she observed, "Bookstores have become more than just stores to buy books -- they are places where people browse and drink coffee and meet and stay for hours."
6. There was also a real-life inspiration for the Ephrons' story of feuding book merchants. In the early 1990s, a huge Barnes & Noble outlet opened on Broadway in New York's Upper West Side. Longtime residents feared that the new chain bookstore would kill off the small, independent Shakespeare & Co. bookstore a block away. And indeed, that's what happened.
7. Signing on to direct the movie, Nora Ephron filled the script with real-life neighborhood businesses and landmarks that were within a half-mile radius of her own Upper West Side apartment.
8. The real-life store used as Kathleen's Shop Around the Corner was a quaint Upper West Side boutique that sold antiques and French cheeses. While the woman who owned the store went on vacation for a few weeks, the filmmakers transformed it into a children's book store, then put everything back in place when filming was over.
9. The direct inspiration for Kathleen Kelly's shop was Books of Wonder, in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood. Meg Ryan reportedly worked the counter for a day in order to research her role.
10. The storefront used as the new Fox Books megastore was also in Chelsea. It was so convincing-looking that passers-by saw the "Coming Soon" sign and inquired when the store would actually open.
11. "You've Got Mail" was Ryan's third movie with Nora Ephron (after "When Harry Met Sally..." and "Sleepless in Seattle") and her third with Tom Hanks (after "Joe vs. the Volcano" and "Sleepless"). Ryan would later star in "Hanging Up," with a screenplay by the Ephron sisters, based on Delia's novel.
12. "You've Got Mail" marked the film debut of future "Grey's Anatomy" co-star Sara Ramirez, playing the stubborn cashier in the cash-only line at Zabar's market.
13. It also marked the feature debut of Heather Burns, who played Kathleen's assistant, Christina. Burns went on to become a regular sidekick for Sandra Bullock, in the "Miss Congeniality" films and "Two Weeks Notice."
14. Greg Kinnear's character, New York Observer columnist Frank Navasky, was inspired by real-life Observer columnist Ron Rosenbaum, who often wrote about the plight of New York's independent bookstores. The character is named, however, after another New York journalist, Victor Navasky, the longtime editor and publisher of left-wing political magazine The Nation.
15. Monty Python's Michael Palin was cast as a tweedy author friend of Kathleen's, but his part ended up on the cutting room floor.
16. Playing Kathleen's eccentric employee George, Steve Zahn also saw his part severely trimmed. "It doesn't really bother me," Zahn said at the time, "but the experience kind of makes you read scripts differently and figure out how important you are to the story."
17. Hanks reportedly did not get the balloons caught in the door of Kathleen's bookshop on purpose, and when he did, he ad-libbed the line "Good thing it wasn't the fish."
18. The film suggests that every man knows the script to "The Godfather" by heart and that Joe considers it the source of all wisdom, like the "I Ching." We're not sure where Nora Ephron got that idea, but Hanks reportedly can quote extensively from "The Godfather," and Ephron's husband was "Goodfellas" screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi.
19. The song Kathleen, Frank, and their friends sing at the holiday party is an Austrian folk song known as "The Instrument Song" or "The Orchestra Song."
20. The film had its New York premiere at the Lincoln Square theater, the same multiplex where Kathleen and Frank have a disastrous date in "You've Got Mail."
21. The excerpt Kathleen reads to the children during story hour is from "Boy: Tales of Childhood," an autobiographical novel by "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" author Roald Dahl.
22. Ephron must really have liked the song "Over the Rainbow." She used Ray Charles's cover in "Sleepless in Seattle" and Harry Nilsson's version in "You've Got Mail."
23. The budget for "You've Got Mail" was reportedly $65 million. It went on to earn $116 million at the North American box office and another $135 million overseas.
24. To some critics, the film looked an awful lot like an infomercial for AOL. About a year after Warner Bros. released the movie, Time Warner merged with AOL, bringing both companies under the same corporate umbrella.
25. In July 2013, The Onion ran a satirical article suggesting that, in a turn of poetic justice, Fox Books had been driven to bankruptcy because it couldn't compete with Amazon. The article is full of jokey references to "You've Got Mail."