Friday, September 16, 2011

#406. Casablanca (1942)

Directed By: Michael Curtiz

Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid

Tag line: "They had a date with fate in Casablanca!"

Trivia:  Was named the best screenplay of all time by the Writers Guild of America

Casablanca is a perfect storm of a movie, a motion picture in which all the elements blend together wonderfully, creating a cinematic masterpiece that has withstood the test of time. 

Rick’s Café, owned and operated by Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), is the most popular hangout in all of Casablanca, but there's more to Rick's than fine food and gambling. With the war raging in Europe, scores of people flock to the Café in the hopes of acquiring letters of transit, which would grant them safe passage to America. The local Vichy commander, Capt. Renault (Claude Rains), whose job is to prevent the sale of such documents, has an understanding with Rick, and is only too happy to look the other way. 

One evening, a French underground leader named Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), who is wanted by the Nazis, shows up at the café in search of letters of transit for both himself and his wife. Things get a bit complicated, however, when Rick learns that Mrs. Laszlo is his old flame Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), a woman he had fallen in love with years earlier in Paris. Still not over the heartbreak of their whirlwind romance, Rick is reluctant to help either one of them, leading to a showdown that may prove costly for everyone involved. 

Scholars and fans alike have spent countless hours dissecting Casablanca over the years, with the general consensus being it's one of the finest films ever made. In compiling a list of the 100 greatest movies of all time in 1999, Entertainment Weekly ranked Casablanca at #3, adding, “Say what you will about today’s trendy cinematic nihilism. We’ll always have Casablanca”. Even today, some 70 years after its initial run, Casablanca continues to win over audiences (In his book Ain't It Cool, Harry Knowles, film geek extraordinaire and founder of the online movie web site Ain’t it Cool News, writes that he watches Casablanca every New Years Eve because, as he puts it, it's “the perfect movie, pure gold”). 

As for myself, I love Casablanca just as much as the rest of film fandom.  The performances are excellent (especially Peter Lorre as the somewhat shifty Ugarte, a character as slimy as he is sympathetic), the dialogue is incredible, and the story is the kind of stuff that put Southern California on the cinematic map. Casablanca is now, and forever will be, a shining example of Hollywood at its most magical. 

Here's looking at Casablanca...again and again!


Klaus said...

What to say that hasn't already been said - this film is also just a lot of fun. Taking away nothing from this film - I suspect that its impact on audiences of the day wasn't nearly as powerful as it is now (an aspect of film history which I find fascinating - how some films just keep getting better with time).

Dave B. said...

@Klaus: Thanks for the comment!

You make an excellent point: I think this film does mean more to later audiences than it did at the time it was released (and despite it's Best Picture win). It's definitely a movie where the magic gets better with age.

moviesandsongs365 said...

It’s amazing how quotes from Casablanca have become part of mainstream culture: round up the usual suspects, or, of all the bars in all the world, you had to step into this one, etc. My favourites have to be: “Here’s looking at you kid”, and “I came here for the waters, we’re in the desert?, I was misinformed.”

That song As time goes by is amazing, and the movie MUST have helped the tourism ( :

Look out for my Casablanca review soon!

Dave B. said...

Moviesandsongs365: Absolutely! There are very few lines in the film that aren't classic (and my favorite is the "Waters of Casablanca" one you mentioned). I find it fascinating that Bogart and Bergman once spent a lunch break complaining about how trite and ridiculous the film's dialogue was. It's really what made the movie.

as always, I look forward to reading your take on the film. Please be sure to stop back and let us know when it's posted!

Thanks for the comment.

moviesandsongs365 said...

They complained about the dialogue, really, I'm surprised to hear that. Probably they had regrets later ( :

Just posted my Casablanca review

Dave B. said...

Yeah, it seems amazing now, doesn't it? It's the dialogue that makes the movie.

I'll check out your review. Thanks!

Greg Russell said...

Great review of my all time favorite movie. #1 of your 2500 for me!

Dave B. said...

@Greg: Thanks for the comment, and my apologies for the late reply. Glad to hear you enjoyed it! CASABLANCA is definitely a great motion picture