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(1942)

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10/10
A masterwork for all time...
kdryan10 November 2004
There is a scene about halfway through the movie Casablanca that has become commonly known as 'The Battle of the Anthems' throughout the film's long history. A group of German soldiers has come into Rick's Café American and are drunkenly singing the German National Anthem at the top of their voice. Victor Lazlo, the leader of the French Resistance, cannot stand this act and while the rest of the club stares appalled at the Germans, Lazlo orders the band to play 'Le Marseilles (sic?)' the French National Anthem. With a nod from Rick, the band begins playing, with Victor singing at the top of HIS voice. This in turn, inspires the whole club to begin singing and the Germans are forced to surrender and sit down at their table, humbled by the crowd's dedication. This scene is a turning point in the movie, for reasons that I leave to you to discover.

As I watched this movie again tonight for what must be the 100th time, I noticed there was a much smaller scene wrapped inside the bigger scene that, unless you look for it, you may never notice. Yvonne, a minor character who is hurt by Rick emotionally, falls into the company of a German soldier. In a land occupied by the Germans, but populated by the French, this is an unforgivable sin. She comes into the bar desperately seeking happiness in the club's wine, song, and gambling. Later, as the Germans begin singing we catch a glimpse of Yvonne sitting dejectedly at a table alone and in this brief glimpse, it is conveyed that she has discovered that this is not her path to fulfillment and she has no idea where to go from there. As the singing progresses, we see Yvonne slowly become inspired by Lazlo's act of defiance and by the end of the song, tears streaming down her face, she is singing at the top of her voice too. She has found her redemption. She has found something that will make her life never the same again from that point on.

Basically, this is Casablanca in a nutshell. On the surface, you may see it as a romance, or as a story of intrigue, but that is only partially correct.

The thing that makes Casablanca great is that it speaks to that place in each of us that seeks some kind of inspiration or redemption. On some level, every character in the story receives the same kind of catharsis and their lives are irrevocably changed. Rick's is the most obvious in that he learns to live again, instead of hiding from a lost love. He is reminded that there are things in the world more noble and important than he is and he wants to be a part of them. Louis, the scoundrel, gets his redemption by seeing the sacrifice Rick makes and is inspired to choose a side, where he had maintained careful neutrality. The stoic Lazlo gets his redemption by being shown that while thousands may need him to be a hero, there is someone he can rely upon when he needs inspiration in the form of his wife, who was ready to sacrifice her happiness for the chance that he would go on living. Even Ferrai, the local organized crime leader gets a measure of redemption by pointing Ilsa and Lazlo to Rick as a source of escape even though there is nothing in it for him.

This is the beauty of this movie. Every time I see it (and I have seen it a lot) it never fails that I see some subtle nuance that I have never seen before. Considering that the director would put that much meaning into what is basically a throw away moment (not the entire scene, but Yvonne's portion) speaks bundles about the quality of the film. My wife and I watched this movie on our first date, and since that first time over 12 years ago, it has grown to be, in my mind, the greatest movie ever made.
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10/10
We'll Always Have Casablanca
RWiggum29 March 2004
Spoilers ahead, but then again, who isn't familiar with Casablanca, even if one hasn't seen it?

I've been watching 'Casablanca' over and over again since I bought the Special Edition DVD, and is there any film out there one can watch again and again without ever being tired of it? And does any film appeal to a broader audience? Just everything about it seems to be as close to perfection as it only can be.

But what exactly is so special about it? Is it its great genre mix, never equaled by another film? When we think of 'Casablanca' first, we remember it as a romantic film (well, most of us do). But then again, its also a drama involving terror, murder and flight. One can call it a character study, centering on Rick. And there are quite a few moments of comedic delight, just think of the pickpocket ("This place is full of vultures, vultures everywhere!") or the elderly couple on the last evening before their emigration to the US ("What watch?").

But 'Casablanca' is not only great as a whole, it still stands on top if we break it apart and look at single lines of dialog, scenes or performances alone. Is there any other film which has more quotable dialog than 'Casablanca'? 'Pulp Fiction' is on my mind here, and 'All About Eve' and 'Sunset Blvd.' come close, too, but still I think 'Casablanca' tops everything else. And not only is the dialog great, it's unforgettably delivered, especially by Humphrey Bogart ("I was misinformed.") and Claude Rains ("I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on here"). Many of scenes have become a part of film history; the duel of 'Die Wacht am Rhein' and 'La Marseillaise' is probably one of the greatest scenes ever shot (the only I can think of that would rival it for the #1 spot is Hynkel and the globe from Chaplin's 'The Great Dictator'), and the last scene is probably even familiar to the few people who've never seen 'Casablanca'. Am I the only one who is absolutely convinced that the film wouldn't have become what it is today if Rick and Ilsa would have ended up as the lucky couple?

About the performances: So much has been said about the uniqueness of Humphrey Bogart's and Ingrid Bergman's chemistry as Rick and Ilsa, about Claude Rains' terrific turn as Renault, about the scene-stealing performances by Peter Lorre (one of the 10 all-time greatest actors) as Ugarte and Sydney Greenstreet as Ferrari and about Dooley Wilson stopping the show as Sam. I'd love to emphasize here two other performances, one that is not mentioned quite as often and one which is blatantly overlooked: Conrad Veidt as Major Strasser had a really difficult task here, as his character is the only evil one, but still Strasser is not a one-dimensional character, and it took more than 50 years until another actor gave an equally (maybe even more) impressive performance as a Nazi, Ralph Fiennes in 'Schindler's List'. But why no one ever mentions S. K. Sakall, who plays Carl, the jolly waiter at Rick's Café Américain, is beyond me. He has definitely more screen time than Lorre, Greenstreet and Wilson, and probably about as much as Veidt, and he's a joy whenever he's on the screen. I simply love his reaction when the pickpocket ("Vultures everywhere!") accidentally bumps into him, or the reaction to the "What watch"-dialog. Or how he says he gave Strasser the best table, "being a German, he would have taken it anyway". His performance is simply criminally overlooked.

So is there a weakest link in 'Casablanca'? Every film, no matter how close to perfection, has a minor flaw or two, so one can find them in 'Casablanca', too, if one really tries hard. So yes, one might ask how much sense the entire mumbo jumbo about the letters of transit makes. One might point out that Paul Henreid, although his performance is certainly good, doesn't come close to the greatness of any of his co-stars. However, the film is so close to perfection that I'm almost ashamed that I'm so desperately trying to find less-than-perfect elements.

So whatever films will come, how many sequels will overflow the screen, and how much junk we will have to sit through, one thing is certain if we're desperate to see a great film: We'll always have Casablanca!
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10/10
The Fundamental Things Apply...
Bill Slocum16 January 2005
"Casablanca" remains Hollywood's finest moment, a film that succeeds on such a vast scale not because of anything experimental or deliberately earthshaking in its design, but for the way it cohered to and reaffirmed the movie-making conventions of its day. This is the film that played by the rules while elevating the form, and remains the touchstone for those who talk about Hollywood's greatness.

It's the first week in December, 1941, and in the Vichy-controlled African port city of Casablanca, American ex-pat Rick Blaine runs a gin joint he calls "Rick's Cafe Americaine." Everybody comes to Rick's, including thieves, spies, Nazis, partisans, and refugees trying to make their way to Lisbon and, eventually, America. Rick is a tough, sour kind of guy, but he's still taken for a loop when fate hands him two sudden twists: A pair of unchallengeable exit visas, and a woman named Ilsa who left him broken-hearted in Paris and now needs him to help her and her resistance-leader husband escape.

Humphrey Bogart is Rick and Ingrid Bergman is Ilsa, in roles that are archetypes in film lore. They are great parts besides, very multilayered and resistant to stereotype, and both actors give career performances in what were great careers. He's mad at her for walking out on him, while she wants him to understand her cause, but there's a lot going on underneath with both, and it all spills out in a scene in Rick's apartment that is one of many legendary moments.

"Casablanca" is a great romance, not only for being so supremely entertaining with its humor and realistic-though-exotic wartime excitement, but because it's not the least bit mushy. Take the way Rick's face literally breaks when he first sees Ilsa in his bar, or how he recalls the last time he saw her in Paris: "The Germans wore gray, you wore blue." There's a real human dimension to these people that makes us care for them and relate to them in a way that belies the passage of years.

For me, and many, the most interesting relationship in the movie is Rick and Capt. Renault, the police prefect in Casablanca who is played by Claude Rains with a wonderful subtlety that builds as the film progresses. Theirs is a relationship of almost perfect cynicism, one-liners and professions of neutrality that provide much humor, as well as give a necessary display of Rick's darker side before and after Ilsa's arrival.

But there's so much to grab onto with a film like this. You can talk about the music, or the way the setting becomes a living character with its floodlights and Moorish traceries. Paul Henreid is often looked at as a bit of a third wheel playing the role of Ilsa's husband, but he manages to create a moral center around which the rest of the film operates, and his enigmatic relationship with Rick and especially Ilsa, a woman who obviously admires her husband but can't somehow ever bring herself to say she loves him, is something to wonder at.

My favorite bit is when Rick finds himself the target of an entreaty by a Bulgarian refugee who just wants Rick's assurance that Capt. Renault is "trustworthy," and that, if she does "a bad thing" to secure her husband's happiness, it would be forgivable. Rick flashes on Ilsa, suppresses a grimace, tries to buy the woman off with a one-liner ("Go back to Bulgaria"), then finally does a marvelous thing that sets the whole second half of the film in motion without much calling attention to itself.

It's not fashionable to discuss movie directors after Chaplin and before Welles, but surely something should be said about Michael Curtiz, who not only directed this film but other great features like "Captain Blood" and "Angels With Dirty Faces." For my money, his "Adventures Of Robin Hood" was every bit "Casablanca's" equal, and he even found time the same year he made "Casablanca" to make "Yankee Doodle Dandy." When you watch a film like this, you aren't so much aware of the director, but that's really a testament to Curtiz's artistry. "Casablanca" is not only exceptionally well-paced but incredibly well-shot, every frame feeling well-thought-out and legendary without distracting from the overall story.

Curtiz was a product of the studio system, not a maverick like Welles or Chaplin, but he found greatness just as often, and "Casablanca," also a product of the studio system, is the best example. It's a film that reminds us why we go back to Hollywood again and again when we want to refresh our imaginations, and why we call it "the dream factory." As the hawker of linens tells Ilsa at the bazaar, "You won't find a treasure like this in all Morocco." Nor, for that matter, in all the world.
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10/10
.....it's still the same old story, a fight for love and glory, a case of do or die, the world will always welcome lovers, As Time Goes By."
bkoganbing8 March 2006
It's one of the great Hollywood legends how George Raft helped make Humphrey Bogart a leading man by turning down in succession, High Sierra, The Maltese Falcon, and Casablanca. Maybe Raft showed some good sense in letting a better actor handle those roles. In any event we've got some proof in the case of Casablanca.

Check out some time a film called Background to Danger that Warner Brothers did with George Raft that also featured Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet. Had Raft ever done Casablanca the film would have been a routine action/adventure story just like Background to Danger. Instead with Bogey we get that, but also one of the great love stories of the century.

Humphrey Bogart set the standard for playing expatriate American soldiers of fortune in Casablanca. Right now he's between wars running Rick's Cafe Americain in Casablanca in Morocco, an area controlled for the moment by the Vicky French government. He's got his fingers in a whole lot of pies, but Bogey operates with his own code of ethics. He sticks his neck out for nobody.

Nobody except the great love of his life Ingrid Bergman who left him mysteriously in Paris as he was fleeing the oncoming German occupation. She walks back into his life with a husband, Paul Henreid who is a well known anti-fascist leader.

The rest of the film is a contest for Bogey's soul. Torn between his great love, his own anti-fascist beliefs, and certain practical necessities of operating a liquor and gaming establishment in a hostile environment.

So many things combine to make Casablanca the great film it is. Ingrid Bergman's lovely incandescence melding and melting Bogey's cynical screen persona. The indelible characterizations of Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt and the whole rest of a 100% perfectly cast film. And the revival of a great ballad which serves as Casablanca's theme song.

I say revival because As Time Goes By was introduced in 1931 in the George White Scandals on Broadway by Rudy Vallee. He made a record of it which sold quite a few disks back then. But by the merest of coincidences there was a strike that lasted two years that just began around the time Casablanca came out. The Musicians Union struck against the record companies. With no new records being made RCA Victor re-released Vallee's record and it became a monster hit on revival.

Also when Casablanca came out as if the White House had a personal interest in the film FDR and Churchill had the first of their wartime conferences in----Casablanca of all places. Jack Warner must have said a prayer for that to happen.

There are so many classic scenes and lines from Casablanca you can write a comment just by listing them. But my favorite has always been when the Germans have taken over Rick's place and are singing some of their songs, Paul Henreid goes to orchestra leader and asks him to lead La Marsellaise. With a nod from Bogey, the orchestra plays, Henreid leads them and the rest of the non-Germans in the cafe join in. Over 60 years later, one still gets a thrill from that act of defiance.

Bogart and Rains were nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor. Any of the others could have been as well. As I said before Casablanca is perfectly cast right down to minor roles like Curt Bois as a pickpocket, John Qualen as a fellow resistance leader, and S.Z. Sakall as a waiter at Rick's. If there was an award for ensemble cast, Casablanca would have won it. As it was it did win for Best Picture of 1943 and best director for Michael Curtiz.

Casablanca will be seen and loved by filmgoers for generations unto infinity, as time goes by.
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10/10
"I should never have switched from scotch to martinis."
JFHunt6 December 2006
The Petrified Forest convinced the world Bogart was a bad guy. And for years he shocked and awed the audience with roles fitting that image. The Maltese Falcon showed a new kind hero, one with an edge. Bogart, with all the right things to say and seemingly never losing his cool. Then came Casablanca and the ages. The man's – man comes with a heart. Arguably, three of his best pictures. All showing a change in a man's character and the depths of what acting is supposed to be. Maybe it was Warner Bros all along. Maybe Bogart was simply Bogart.

What can I say about this film that hasn't been said in over 60 years since its release. Is it a great film? Yes. Is it a showcase for Bogart? If not, than what else. Was Bogart the coolest guy to ever live? Absolutely. Casablanca is a different kind of love story, more likely to infect rather than effect.

She almost makes me believe it every time. When she says, "You're very kind." Bergman was more than just beautiful. And with Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt and Peter Lorre, cinema magic was created. But to me, Bogart was the greatest actor of all time. It's hard for me to believe he died almost 50 years ago. Every time I watch his films, it's like they were made yesterday. And that's why he is timeless. I'm still trying to figure him out.

"I should never have switched from scotch to martinis." Is said to be Bogart's last words. A legend, indeed.
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10/10
Cinema par Excellence!
Nazi_Fighter_David28 November 1999
Warning: Spoilers
Michael Curtiz's "Casablanca" opens on maps while a narrator gives a detailed exposition of the many twists and turns of Casablanca in the French Morocco, as a refugee route from wartime Europe...

The Nazi envoy, Major Heinrich Strasser puts it: 'Human life is cheap in Casablanca." Of course because a man may be executed in its crowded market before Marshal Pétain's portrait or where a charming girl may guarantee an exit visa by spending her night with the Prefect of Police...

Rick's Café is the point of intersection, the espionage center, the background for Allied offensive, the focal point as refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe seek to gain exit visas to Lisboa... The interesting club so well organized, leads to an open arena of conspiracy, counterspies, secret plans, black market transactions, in which the games and fights are between arrogant Nazis, patriotic French, idealists, murderers, pickpockets and gamblers around a roulette wheel, where a ball could rest on Rick's command against the settled number 22...

"Casablanca" is an adventure film which victory is not won with cannons and guns... The action, the fight, the war takes place inside Rick's walls rather than outside...

But who is this Rick? What is his magical power? His secret weapon? Rick is the anti-fascist with hard feelings, the former soldier of fortune who has grown tired of smuggling and fighting, and is now content to sit out the war in his own neutral territory... Even loyalty to a friend doesn't move him as he refuses to help Ugarte, a desperately frightened little courier who is fleeing from the police...

Emphatically, Rick says, "I stick my neck out for nobody." But we know he will do just that in a very short time, for into his quiet life comes a haunting vision from his past, the beautiful woman he still loves and bitterly remembers... She is married to an underground leader and she desperately needs those papers Rick conveniently now has in his possession... The cynical Rick's facade of neutrality begins to weaken as he recalls the bittersweet memories of his past love affair, memories triggered repeatedly when the strains of "As Time Goes By" come from Sam, his piano-playing confidante...

But "Casablanca" basic message is a declaration of self-sacrifice... War World II demanded all! The words stated by Rick at the airport had their impact: 'The problems of three people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.' It goes without saying that Bogart is incomparable when he seems most like himself... His way with a line makes "Casablanca" dialog part of the collective memory: 'I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray. You were blue.'

Intermixed in this intrigue are all the fascinating and beautifully acted supporting roles… With his customary skill, Claude Rains plays Major Renault, a prefect of police who is like Bogart in many ways... He, too, claims neutrality, but is definitely against the Nazis... He is Rick's most devoted adversary, tauntingly calling the man a "sentimentalist" and delivering his share of cynically amusing lines... When he makes a small bet and is encouraged to make a bigger one, he remarks that he is only a "poor corrupt official."

Ingrid Bergman is fascinating as the lovely heroine, the mysterious impossible woman of an impossible love, the tender mood of every man, the love-affair, the quality of being romantic, the traditional woman enclosed by two rivals, symbol of a besieged Europe...

Paul Henreid is Victor Laszlo, the anti-Nazi resistance leader, seeking in Morocco the two letters of transit signed by General De Gaulle...

Sidney Greenstreet is the black marketeer on good terms with Rick, the rival owner of the 'Blue Parrot,' the acceptable face of corruption...

Peter Lorre is Ugarte, the racketeer, the dealer of anything illegal, the killer, driven into a corner by the Vichy police, who has given Rick two letter of transit...

Conrad Veidt is the very essence of German rigidity, unfeeling, unconcerned about life, but firmly believing in the foolish ideology of his Nazi compatriots...

"Casablanca" covers many highlights: The Marseillaise against the Horst Wessel song inspiring sequence; the blissful days in Paris; Ilsa's emotional words to Rick in occupied Paris; the champagne toast; Ilsa's request to Sam; the poetry of the magic words and the beautiful voice of Dooley Wilson; Captain Renault's words in the airport; and the farewell...

The magic that developed from the teaming of Bogart and Bergman is enough to make a new romantic figure out of the former tough guy... To his cynicism, his own code of ethics, his hatred of the phoniness in all human behavior, he now added the softening traits of tenderness and compassion and a feeling of heroic commitment to a cause... They helped him complete the portrayal of the ideal man who all men wished to rival...

One can look at hundreds of films produced during this period without finding any whose composite pieces fall so perfectly into place... Its photography is outstanding, the music score is inventive, the editing is concise and timed perfectly... Bogart's and Bergman's love scenes create a genuinely romantic aura, capturing a sensitivity between the two stars one would not have believed possible...

"Casablanca" is a masterpiece of entertainment, an outstanding motion picture which brought Bogart his first Academy Award nomination (he lost to Paul Lukas for "Watch On the Rhine") and won Awards for Best Picture of the Year, Best Director and Best Screenplay...
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10/10
I've loved this film for thirty years.
Questor29 November 2000
Casablanca is a film about the personal tragedy of occupation and war. It speaks to the oppression of the one side - and the heroism and self-deprecation of the other. From opportunists, to isolationists - from patriots to disenchanted lovers - the film has everything a man or woman would enjoy. Bravery, courage, intrigue, romance, beauty and love. Leading actors to please any appetite. Watching this film is to step back to a world that doesn't exist - yet to know it. It is to experience lives that have never been lived - but are "real to you." It is to know pain and joy, pride and pity for characters that are a fiction - yet are so real that you can't help but get lost in their story.

Amazing cast, memorable dialogue, unforgettable story. Through this film, Casablanca will always live in my heart and I will think of its characters as family.

Seeing it for the first time is truly the start of a romance with ideals that will live in you long after credits end.
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A Classic Worth Remembering
Snow Leopard6 December 2001
While there's not anything new to be said about "Casablanca", it's good to see one of the classics still getting some attention. By most standards it is at least very good, and there are good reasons why so many still remember it so fondly. Not everyone who watches it today shares the opinion that it is a classic, but it's still good to see fans of modern movies giving it a try for themselves.

The cast is one of its main strengths, not just Bogart and Bergman but also the fine supporting cast. Rains, Greenstreet, Lorre, and the others are indispensable to the atmosphere and the story, and each has some very good moments. It does have its imperfections, but it was not expected to be a classic or blockbuster - everything you read about the production suggests that it was made in a rather slap-dash fashion, under constraints that would have wrecked most other films. It's not hard to see the little ways that this affected the finished product, such as the times when the plot strains credibility a bit, or the characters seem to behave somewhat oddly. (In particular, it might have been even more satisfying if Bergman's character had been a little stronger - Ilsa is charming, but that's entirely thanks to what Bergman does with her; the character herself as written seems somewhat shallow.)

But it turned out anyway to be an excellent combination of actors, characters, and story, a combination that more than makes up for everything else. Different viewers probably remember and enjoy "Casablanca" for different reasons, because it seemingly has a little of everything. While perhaps not perfect, it is well worth remembering and watching.
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Of all the classics in all the films in all the world, this is the best!
John Wayne Peel11 August 2004
This is a film that MUST belong in every video collection in the U.S. is not in the world. The stories about it's making are legendary from the constant rewrites to the apocrypha of casting stories.

What is amazing to me, and the reason I believe it holds audiences almost spellbound in successive viewings, is the connection with the horrors of World War II was almost every single cast member. Sidney Greenstreet had lost a son in combat, and a number of the cast members fled Europe to escape the ravages of a Hitler regime. Even the evil Nazi character Major Strasser (played with relish by Conrad Veidt) had left Nazi Germany to escape almost sure internment and possible death in a concentration camp. Here was a man who was a legend in German film history as the murdering somnambulist (a possible warning about the Nazi soldiers to come?) and because of the vicious anti-Semitism and racism of the Germany of the '30s and '40s, we in America and in Hollywood were given a great gift.

Everyone in this film is fabulous, but it is the chemistry of Rick (Bogart) and Ilsa (Bergman) been truly holds the film together. When I saw this film almost frame by frame in the limited book series of classic films that were produced in the late 1960s, I was stunned by the subtlety of facial expressions that conveyed so much of Rick Blaine's character by a marvelous actor Humphrey Bogart. There is a reason why he was named the actor of the century.

While every person in the film becomes a real flesh and blood presence, the story of Rick and Ilsa is the center of this cinema feast.

I must confess that I have seen this picture so many times that I can recite every single line in the movie to the consternation of my wife who can't watch it with me anymore.

The line that sticks out the most for me, and which against cheers from New Yorkers whenever it plays in the theater. It is when Bogart says to the Nazis seated at his table, "There are parts of New York I wouldn't advise you to invade." And what makes this line so memorable is that Humphrey Bogart did indeed star in another motion picture for Warner Brothers where that very thing formed the basis for the script. That movie was "All Through The Night." I love this movie too, and I'm not even a New Yorker.

There have been many attempts to revisit "Casablanca," but only the original makes you really feel what it was like to live through "The Good War" in a faraway place like Casablanca in French Morocco.

Even though such trickery as midget airport workers, fog machines and cardboard cutout airplanes were utilized, this film convinces through its beautiful story with many layers, and characters that are so well realized.

If you've never seen this movie before, shame on you and see it immediately. If you only seen it once, I believe you will come back to it more than once. This is just about the most perfect film ever made and it is a miracle that that is so considering that there were so many hands in the pie. (Excuse me for my mixing my metaphors. It's late, and I get emotional just thinking about this classic film masterpiece.)

Play it again and again and again and again, Sam.
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10/10
For all-around entertainment, the best I've ever seen
Daniel R. Baker27 August 1999
Warning: Spoilers
CASABLANCA is the best treatment ever of the ancient theme of the love triangle. Set in World War II Casablanca, a Moroccan city under the control of the collaborationist Vichy French government, the movie starts with a news wire that two German couriers have been murdered and their letters of transit stolen. Each letter will permit one person to leave Casablanca to a neutral country.

Enter Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine, owner of the shady but cheerful Cafe Americaine. Rick is a cynical and hard-nosed man whose motto is, "I stick my neck out for nobody." Like many a cynic, Rick is an embittered ex-idealist, still nursing his wounds from being abandoned by his lover Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman). By chance he falls into possession of the missing letters of transit.

Enter Ilsa, who comes to Casablanca on the arm of Czech Resistance leader Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), a few steps ahead of the Nazi police. We now have three people and two letters of transit. Who will reach America, and who will stay in Casablanca?

I know no other movie that so perfectly balances humor, romance, and drama. The soul of good drama lies in presenting characters with hard choices, and few choices are as hard, or as illuminating of the protagonists' makeup, as the choices in CASABLANCA. All of the characters must decide what they will give up for love, for honor, and for themselves. The scenes of Rick and Ilsa's love, years ago in Paris, are some of the finest romantic scenes in cinema. And the humor, particularly in the person of Casablanca's Prefect of Police, Louis Renault, has contributed dozens of dry witticisms to our everyday language - "I am shocked! Shocked! - "The Germans wore gray, you wore blue." - "I was misinformed." - "It would take a miracle to get you out of Casablanca, and the Germans have outlawed miracles." So perfectly blended are these three major elements that you cannot point to a single shot or scene that should have been eliminated from the movie. Never try to watch only one scene from CASABLANCA; you will inevitably be absorbed until the very end of the film. It is little short of miraculous that the chaotically mismanaged shooting of this movie resulted in such a magnificent final product; it speaks volumes for luck and for Owen Marks' and Michael Curtiz' post-production editing.

I have never encountered a movie whose supporting cast was so perfectly realized. Every minor character is a fleshed-out, realistic individual, from Sasha to Carl the headwaiter to Rick's competitor Ferrari to the self-effacing criminal Ugarte. Claude Rains' Captain Renault ("I'm only a poor corrupt official") steals scene after scene, and Dooley Wilson's Sam is a refreshingly loyal, charismatic and sympathetic conception from an era when almost all black characters were rendered as demeaning stereotypes. The only character who tastes of the cliche is the villainous Major Strasser, which can be forgiven in a wartime production.

The only film I have ever seen as tautly effective as CASABLANCA is GLORY. Although the 54th Mass.'s story is arguably superior even to CASABLANCA for sheer dramatic power and acting talent, GLORY lacks CASABLANCA's wonderful humor and romance, which causes me to give the edge to Curtiz' classic as the better-rounded movie. I have yet to see CASABLANCA surpassed.

Rating: **** out of ****.
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As time goes by, it's still one of the all-time greats...
Neil Doyle17 May 2001
While my personal Bogey favorite is still his Sam Spade in 'The Maltese Falcon', his cynical nightclub owner, Rick, in 'Casablanca', is also a standout. Rather than some "off the cuff" comments, I'll quote instead from my article on Claude Rains (from March 2000 issue of CLASSIC IMAGES) that pretty well sums up the film:

"It was 1943's 'Casablanca', bustling with melodramatic wartime intrigue, that really put him (Claude Rains) in the forefront as one of the screen's smoothest character actors, almost--but not quite--stealing the film from Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, as the uniformed Captain Louis Renault who investigates the goings-on at Rick's notorious cafe.

Nobody associated with the film guessed that it would become a screen classic, least of all its director, Michael Curtiz, the prolific WB director to whom it was just another assignment. It went on to win the Oscar for Best Film of 1943 with an award for Curtiz' taut direction.

Oddly enough, the film's memorable airport ending was written and conceived just shortly before filming wrapped up, with neither Bergman nor Bogart knowing whether or not she would leave him for husband Paul Henried. Wartime audiences loved the film. Sydney Greenstreet, Conrad Veidt, Victor Francen and Peter Lorre all gave sterling performances and Rains was again nominated for Best Supporting actor."

And by the way, I disagree with a former comment indicating the black and white photography of this film was primitive as compared to today's. Incredible nonsense!! As a matter of fact, the film's black and white cinematography was nominated for an Oscar!

Ingrid Bergman was at the peak of her radiant beauty in this one--and Bogey was firing on all six cylinders. Great chemistry!

As time goes by, we still have 'Casablanca'...
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Of all the gin joints, in all the world...
mryerson18 November 2005
Sunday, November the 20th is the anniversary of Marcel Dalio's death in 1983. It was the end of a serendipitous life. You know him. He was a citizen of the world. Born Israel Moshe Blauschild, in Paris, in 1900, he became a much sought-after character actor. His lovely animated face with its great expressive eyes became familiar across Europe. He appeared in Jean Renoir's idiosyncratic Rules of the Game, and Grand Illusion, arguably the greatest of all films. True to his Frenchman's heart, he married the very young, breathtaking beauty Madeleine LeBeau. He worked with von Stroheim and Pierre Chenal. He had it all.

But then the Germans crushed Poland, swept across Belgium and pressed on toward Paris. He waited until the last possible moment and finally, with the sound of artillery clearly audible, with Madeleine, fled in a borrowed car to Orleans and then, in a freight train, to Bordeaux and finally to Portugal. In Lisbon, they bribed a crooked immigration official and were surreptitiously given two visas for Chile. But on arriving in Mexico City, it was discovered the visas were rank forgeries. Facing deportation, Marcel and Madeleine found themselves making application for political asylum with virtually every country in the western hemisphere. Weeks passed until Canada finally issued them temporary visas and they left for Montreal.

Meanwhile, France had fallen and, in the process of subjugating the country, the Germans had found some publicity stills of Dalio. A series of posters were produced and were then displayed throughout the city with the caption 'a typical Jew' so that citizens could more easily report anyone suspected of unrepentant Jewishness. The madness continued. 'Entree des artistes', a popular film, was ordered re-edited so that Dalio's scenes could be deleted and re-shot with another, non-Jewish, actor.

After a short time, friends in the film industry arranged for them to arrive in Hollywood. Nearly broke, Marcel was immediately put to work in a string of largely forgettable films. Madeleine, a budding actress in her own right, was ironically cast in 'Hold Back the Dawn', a vehicle for Charles Boyer with a plot driven by the efforts of an émigré (Boyer) trying desperately to cross into the United States from Mexico. But the real irony was waiting at Warner Brothers.

In early 1942, Jack Warner was driving production of a film based on a one act play, 'Everybody Comes to Rick's' but had no screenplay. What he had was a mishmash of treatments loosely based on the play and two previous movies. But he had a projected release date and a commitment to his distributors to have a movie for that time slot and little else. Warner Brothers started to wing it.

Shooting started without a screenplay and little plot. Principal players were cast and a director hired but casting calls for supporting roles and bit players continued and sometime in the early spring Marcel Dalio and Madeleine LeBeau were cast as, respectively, a croupier and a romantic entanglement for the male lead. Veteran screen-writers were hired to produce a running screenplay, sometimes delivering pages of dialogue one day, for scenes to be shot the following day. No one knew exactly where the plot would go or how the story would turn out. No one was sure of the ending. And, of course, they produced a classic, perhaps the finest American movie.

They produced a screenplay of multiple genres, rich with characterizations, perfectly in tune with the unfolding events in Europe and loaded with talent from top to bottom. Oh, and they changed the title to 'Casablanca'.

It is so well known, that many lines of long-memorized dialogue have passed into the slang idiom. 'We'll always have Paris', 'I was misinformed', 'Here's looking at you, kid', ' I am shocked! Shocked! To find that there's gambling going on in here!', 'Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship', 'Oh he's just like any other man, only more so', 'I don't mind a parasite. I object to a cut-rate one', 'Round up the usual suspects', and, of course, the oft quoted, apocryphal, 'Play it again, Sam'.

Madeleine LeBeau plays Yvonne, the jilted lover of Humphrey Bogart, who is seen drowning her sorrows at the bar early in the film and who later, to get back at Rick and looking for solace takes up with a German officer finding only self-hatred. She is luminous.

And when Claude Rains delivers the signature line, 'I'm shocked! Shocked! To find that there's gambling going on in here!' the croupier, Emil, played by Marcel Dalio, approaches from the roulette table and says simply, 'Your winnings, sir.' It is a delicious moment ripe with scripted irony, one among many in this film, but one made all the more so, knowing where Dalio came from and what he and his wife had endured to arrive at that line.

I have often wondered exactly when they saw the final script or if they only realised the many parallels to their own lives when the film was released.

Alas, they separated and divorced the next year, both going on to long successful careers. Dalio never remarried.

Late in his career, when Mike Nichols was looking for a vaguely familiar face to deliver a long and worldly, near-monologue in Catch-22, he turned to Dalio. Faced with a hopelessly idealistic young American pilot, Dalio, as simply 'old man in whore house', in tight close-up, delivers a discourse on practical people faced with impractical circumstances, of the virtues of expedience in the face of amorality . Using his wonderful plastic features, now beginning to sag, in a voice full of melancholy, the old man reassures the young man that regardless of what 'grand themes' may be afoot in the world, in the end, little matters but survival.
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10/10
Quite simply the greatest film in American history
Shane Hayes (ShaneJayHayes)31 December 1999
Casablanca is the consummate Hollywood film. It is superbly directed, acted, and filmed. Bogart is amazing, the characters are deep and engaging.

This is easily one of the greatest films of all time. The story is timeless and meaningful, full of heart and should endure for another fifty years with no problems. A true masterpiece and the benchmark by which all other films should be measured. If you haven't seen it, you are at a profound loss. If you have then you know the greatness of this film.
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9/10
I laughed! I cried!
TEENQUEEN117198729 June 2003
Most teenagers don't watch classics I know. But after they've seen this one, there's no turning back! This is the classic to end all classics (That and Gone With The Wind which rocked! but the ending was a bit unusual.) I had been an Ingrid Bergman fan after watching Gaslight with my drama class. It was great because I love a good mystery type thing.

Casablanca was a bit confusing at first, but I found out in the end that it has just the right blend of romance, drama, and comedy. Plus, my dad instilled in me a love for all things World War II related.

I would recommend this movie for children 15 and older, not because there's anything bad, but simply because I don't think younger children would understand it. You guys my age, this is a great Sit-down-and-watch-with-your-girl-on-a-rainy-afternoon type movie, and parents already love it, so everyone's happy.

I always say when I write these things that, even though I liked it, you might not. CHeck it out for yourself and form your own opinion.
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10/10
HOW TO WATCH THIS MOVIE
Jaymay23 August 2003
There are literally hundreds of comments about this movie on IMDB. Many of them exhort its greatness. I don't disagree with them.

But I'd like to add a suggestion to those of you out there who haven't seen this film. I'd like to tell you HOW to watch it.

The people who made this movie didn't think they were producing a masterpiece. Bergman left the shoot disgusted. The screenwriters were on salary for Warners, writing half a dozen movies a year, and this was just one more. Bogie was punching the clock in the middle of a workhorse career.

So as an audience member, you can't sit down expecting gilded greatness.

Don't have a Casablaca party. Don't watch it on your first date, hoping it will lend that "Romantic Touch." Don't watch it as part of your "I need to watch the Best 10 movies of all time" Film School project.

Buy this movie on DVD. Have it at the ready. And then, one Friday night, when your plans fall through and you find it's 10:30pm and there's nothing on TV that's any good, open a six pack of beer, or pour yourself some wine, and watch this movie in a darkened room.

The characters in Casablanca are absolutely devoid of sentimentalism. Every one of them sees the world without a hint of rose color in their lenses. As Rick says, "Three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this big old world." If you're in a mood where you understand what he's saying, watch this movie and it will transport you.

There is no single movie that deserves to be called the best movie of all time. Because movies, when all is said and done, don't amount to a hill of beans. They are meant to entertain us, not for us to worship THEM.

But no movie has ever known this fact like Casablanca.

If you watch Casablance this way, with no expectations, with no "hype," you might catch 10 percent of its greatness on one viewing. And that will be enough to start you on your way.

Happy viewing, kid.
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10/10
The best hollywood movie of all-time
David_Hart8 November 2003
When people ask me what is the best movie of all-time is I don't flinch, I just say "Casablanca". It has everything a great movie should have: romance, sacrifice, wonderful lines, a memorable song, incredible acting (even in the smallest roles) and it is one of the few non-film noir movies filmed in the B&W era that I wouldn't want to see refilmed in color (that is in definite contrast to "I Know Where I'm Going!" which begs to be refilmed to show the beauty of its vistas). But the key that makes everything works is the ending. I don't think the ending that exists in Casablanca could be filmed today and though most have seen this movie (or any of its parodies) I don't want to give anything away. But I encourage you to compare the ending of this movie with the endings of other romantic movies such as "An Affair to Remember", "Sleepless in Seattle" and even the most recent animated "Sinbad" movie. Contrast their endings with Casablanca's ending and you see how Casablanca resonates. Many movies have tried to emulate the ending of Casablanca but it never quite rings true because hollywood movies aren't allowed to have this ending yet the only ones who try are either independent or anti-hollywood.
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10/10
Here's Looking At You Kids!!!
dataconflossmoor24 January 2006
Generation after generation will continue to love this splendid film, just as many previous generations have enjoyed this movie in the past!! (The principle reason for me bastardizing one of this movie's famous quotes) "Casablanca" has, undeniably, withstood the test of time!! This film evokes a romantic humanism into the thick of World War II!!! Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman are magnificent as the tormented love interest duo who do not seem to be able to piece everything together, they just know they love each other, and more importantly, something clicks!!! Originally, Ronald Reagan and Ann Sheriden were cast for the roles of Rick and Ilsa, as it turns out, you cannot imagine any two other people besides Humphry Bogart and Ingrid Bergman for the roles!! These two performers exude more of a continental flair!! The American fascination for this flick is thoroughly justified!! Winning the academy award for best picture in 1943, "Casablanca" was just one of the many movies in the late 1930's and early 1940's which epitomized an era for excellent movies!! Based on the book "Everybody Comes To Ricks", Hal B. Wallis produces this film with a flawless orchestration!! The place, Casablanca, becomes a citadel of despondence and despair for so many people, yet for Rick and Ilsa, (Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman) the situation is tailor made for a passionate redemption!! Max Steiner encompasses a necessary nostalgia with the music in this film. "As Time Goes By" (made in 1931) became enormously popular with this movie!! The whole scene is set up whereby Paris becomes a venue for unprecedented and wondrous romanticism!! "Casablanca" is, without question, one of the greatest movies ever made!! You must remember this, a movie is just a movie!! Unless!! It is the movie of all time; "Casablanca"!! I will see "Casablanca" over and over and over again and never be tired of it!! EVERYBODY SHOULD SEE THIS MOVIE!! I guarantee you, you will not be disappointed!!! This film has 6 of the top 100 famous quotes in the history of all American film making!! Humphrey Bogart and Marlon Brando may lay claim to the most quotes from this list. Many colloquialisms from "Casablanca" have fallen within the realm of popular modern day jargon!! This website ranks "Casablanca" 11th best picture out of the top 250. AFI (American Film Institue) ranks "Casablanca" the second best American film ever made. I feel this is very impressive!! You will truly marvel at this film, in fact, if you do not think "Casablanca" is not one of the greatest films you have ever seen, I will be utterly amazed!!! AN ALL TIME MOVIE CLASSIC!!!!!!
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Wartime Themes
Lechuguilla28 November 2007
Love and sacrifice during WWII underlie the story about a café owner named Rick (Humphrey Bogart), and his link to two intellectual refugees from Nazi occupied France. Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) and Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) seek asylum here in politically neutral Casablanca and, like other European refugees, gravitate to Rick's upscale café, near the city's airport, with its revolving searchlight.

Rick is a middle-aged cynic who also has a touch of sentimentalism, especially for people in need, like Ilsa and Victor. The film's story is ideal for romantics everywhere.

Much of the plot takes place inside Rick's café, an ornate nightclub with archways and high ceilings. Rick's is a gathering place for an eclectic mix of patrons, from locals to those who have arrived from countries throughout Europe. It's this deliciously international ambiance of Rick's café that renders this film so appealing, with a variety of interesting accents, clothes, and uniforms. And, of course, there's Sam, the piano player, who plays all the favorites, including "As Time Goes By".

All of the film's technical elements are excellent including the script, with its colorful characters, like the debonair Captain Renault (Claude Rains); and Signor Ferrari (Sydney Greenstreet), the articulate and portly "leader of all illegal activities in Casablanca". And a minor character that made an impression on me was the guitar playing female singer at Rick's (Corinna Mura), whose beautifully operatic voice was an unexpected delight in this smoke filled saloon.

The film's dialogue, though substantial, is clever and lively, like when Captain Renault observes Rick escorting an intoxicated woman out of the bar: "How extravagant you are, throwing away women like that; some day they may be scarce".

High-contrast B&W lighting renders a noir look. And that pounding score at the film's beginning is stunning; it evokes a feeling of far-off adventure.

"Casablanca" differs from traditional noir films, mostly as a result of its ending. Rick must make a choice between his own interests and the interests of others. The choice he makes enjoins viewers to a sense of courage and optimism, an individual's example of proper collective behavior in the war against Nazi Germany.
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9/10
The best of a kind
Spleen16 April 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers ahead.

I didn't understand the film properly until I read Danny Peary's essay on it in the first of his three "Cult Movies" books (which, by the way, you MUST read, although you should be aware that Peary's complaints about "The Red Shoes" aren't even near the mark). The key (and, in retrospect, obvious) insight is this: all along, Captain Renault WANTED Rick to become a hero again. As long as Rick was content to adopt a cynical, self-serving attitude, Renault, a man made of lesser material, had an excuse to do the same - and he wanted that excuse to be denied him. When it WAS denied him he was delighted. THAT'S he joined the side of the angels, without even hesitating. (It's also why he spent so much time earlier poking fun of Rick's former idealism, in an attempt to get Rick to defend it.) This probably strikes many people as obvious; I regret to say I had to have it pointed out to me.

I don't have to argue that this is a great film. We all know it is. Peary calls it the ONLY film that's everything the old-style studio films were trying to be, and he's probably right. This doesn't, of course, mean that it's the BEST film of the 1940s; better still are the bolder, more ambitious productions made by more inspired directors: "Citizen Kane", "The Red Shoes", "Fantasia", and so forth. But "Casablanca" is probably as high as it is possible to fly without making a Philistine studio executive reach for his heart tablets. This is higher praise than it sounds. And if you think it IS the best film of the 1940s, after all ... well, I can see your point of view.
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Some Film Invents Humanity
tedg10 August 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

Bloom said of Shakespeare that he invented humanity. Films will always have less depth than poetry, but they can have a similar, profound effect on popular culture. Movies are seldom about life, but life is often about film, the few films that find the groove.

This film invented -- to a substantial degree -- what it meant to be a post-war American. It is not so much that it was perfect, but that we have remolded ourselves around it, as part of the victor's healing.

I recently saw some other Bogart films (like `Treasure'), and they amazed me in how poorly they worked. How mannered his acting seemed.

We have beautiful faces in other films, even this face (which we still have in Isabella). But nothing seems to compete for the certain archetype of passionate commitment, of pathetic yearning, of immature desire, of refugee desperation.

The interior sets -- and how they are photographed -- show a definite post `Citizen Kane' influence. In fact, one can see much of the Mercury Player flavor in these characters, particularly Greenstreet.

But you know, this film has so melded with dreams that you don't need to screen it.
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10/10
Tough To Beat This Movie
ccthemovieman-18 February 2006
I am not getting into the "The greatest picture of all-time" debate. It's too subjective but if I forced to cast a vote, I would give this the most serious consideration. I mean, what aspect of this film isn't top-notch?

The dialog is superb, one of the best ever put on film. The acting is great, cinematography first-rate and the story offers an interesting mix of drama, action, romance, music...you name it. This film has everything but color, which might prohibit of a lot of younger folks from ever checking this classic out. That would be a shame because film- making doesn't get much better than "Casablanca."

All of this doesn't mean it's my favorite film of all-time. It isn't even in my top ten but I always find it very, very enjoyable and the latest 2-disc DVD transfer makes it even better to view.

Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, of course, are the stars but I always found Claude Raines' character the best to watch. His witty dialog as the police chief always makes me smile. He has many clever lines and isn't a guy you can figure out. He and Bogart's character are similar, essentially coming across as people who only care about themselves but deep inside are good-hearted people.

The ending is much discussed and very famous and helps make the movie so revered. There has been so much written about this film that there I won't add more except to make one negative statement but that's about a line in the story and not a reflection on the quality of the film. I wasn't impressed that Bergman, despite being married, was willing to run off with Bogart, claiming she "doesn't know" what's right or wrong! Are you serious? Well, judging by the marriage records of Hollywood over the years, maybe they don't know adultery just might be wrong. Anyway, other than that, this is a great movie with many, many classic scenes. Bergman never looked prettier, albeit the aid of soft lens shots on her closeups, and Bogey was never more, well, Bogey, than in here. Add Paul Henreid, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre and other fine actors and wow, what a cast!

An added bonus is hearing "As Time Goes By" throughout the film, a haunting song. Actually, there are several songs played, mainly by pianist Dooley Wilson, and they're all fun to hear. As I said, one could go on and on about this movie. 'Nuff said.
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10/10
Casablanca is a movie that proves that early movies are still the greatest films of all time.
Daniel Counts4 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This movie opens up a gateway to the genre of early romance with light drama. Now it is near impossible to find a movie that was made not for the money, not to win awards, but for the people.

At first I thought that this movie was over hyped, but when I sat down and watched it, I realized that the hype was true. This movie delivered everything it promised and then some.

The characters were perfect. Believable, realistic, and you felt like you could relate to them in a way. Humphrey Boggart was the best example. His witty yet sarcastic remarks are still known as some of the greatest lines of all time. My personal favorite being "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine." While the movie did start out slow, it quickly picked up and was able to hold my interest. It was dark, yet was able to throw in light humor without upsetting the balance of a scene. Since it was dealing with a serious issue, which at the time was an incredibly important matter, they had to find a way to deal with the issue without upsetting the balance of the film. A feat that they managed to do well.

There are many memorable scenes in the movie, but my personal favorite is the very end when Rick has to watch Llsa fly off. It is painful for him, but he knows that her staying would only hurt both of them and due to his character he is able to keep his emotions inept, while conveying in his new friend, Louis.

As for changes, I would make none. This film is a masterpiece and wanting to make changes is like editing the Bible or adding finishes to one of Leonardo DaVinici's paintings. As the saying goes 'If it ain't broke don't fix it' I was only 12 when I first saw this film, but I gained much watching it. I learned that while you may not want to do something or say goodbye to someone sometimes it is necessary for the greater cause.

This is a movie I would recommend to anyone who wants drama, romance, comedy, memorable dialogue, or just an all around good feeling. This is a movie I will continue to enjoy for years to come.
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10/10
Here's looking at cinema-perfection, kid…
Coventry16 February 2004
Out of all the films that are considered classic milestones in cinema…how many fully deserve that status?? Not that many, let me tell you…but Casablanca absolutely does! Casablanca has become history itself, a legendary production that'll live on forever. And it should! This film is essential viewing for everyone who ever showed interest in cinema. Every sequence in Casablanca is brilliant, every character is intriguing and every setting is breath taking. Especially when you're watching it for the first time…you'll be surprised how much you actually know about it already. Multiple ideas, lines and sequences were so influential and important to cinema, that they have been used numberless times afterwards. You might even say that cinema would have looked completely different if it wasn't for Casablanca. It's a brilliant love-story with irresistible film-noir and comedy aspects. The entire script - line by line - is pure nostalgic and some of the dialogues originally shown here grew out to become pure historical art. This intelligent movie also depends a lot on its superb cast, of course. Bogart portrays a terrific character here…a performance that yet has to find its equal. His brute and heartless portrayal of Rick is fascinating, especially because you soon find out that he is in fact just a hurt romanticist, heart-broken by a girl who's about to show up again. This girl (the stunning Ingrid Bergman) is practically the most marvelous lady who ever appeared on the big screen. Thanks to her natural charm and beauty, Bergman makes the most out of Ilsa. Film-noir stars Claude Rains and Peter Lorre supply the film with terrific supporting characters and a right amount of humor and parody. It's amazing how this film combines so many different genres successfully. The cruelty and drama of the war and the rise of the 'Third Empire' is mixed with comedy and romance in a unique way. It cannot be denied…Casablanca is pure perfection and everyone should appreciate it. This film isn't to be missed by anyone, whether you're young, middle-aged or retired…this film will move you.
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10/10
Casablanca gets better and better as time goes by!
jotix10027 June 2004
Saw this classic in DVD format the other night. I must confess that it looks just as good as I remembered it. Michael Curtiz's film is a curious one. It enjoys presently perhaps more popularity than when it originally made its debut in 1942. As new generations discovered the picture, they made it a timeless film, and generations to come will also be charmed by it.

The story of Rick and Ilsa and their impossible love affair will be something to be treasured by film lovers forever. Casablanca in the 40s was a hot bed of intrigue; lots of people tried to get there, but perhaps leaving the place was harder because the red tape of that era and the fact that the Nazis had a way to spoil a party.

In a lot of ways, this is a dated film. By today standards it would be politically incorrect. But ultimately, we all fall under the spell that Michael Curtiz created and for almost two hours we are in Casablanca among the spies and would be travelers eavesdropping into their conversations and the different schemes going on.

Humphrey Bogart was an actor without the looks of some of the handsome male stars of that era, yet, he is mesmerizing as Rick Blaine. It would be hard to imagine another actor playing Rick other that Bogart. Ingrid Bergman was at the height of her career when she made the film. Her chemistry with her co star is one of the best things going, since they made it believable.

The rest of the cast is flawless. Paul Henreid, as Victor Lazlo, cuts quite a figure and it is hard to think Ilsa would prefer Rick to this suave and sophisticated man. Claude Rains is good as Capt. Renault. Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, S.K. Sakall, and above all Dooley Wilson, as Sam, made a magnificent contribution to the film in small roles.

Casablanca gets better and better, as time goes by.
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10/10
Casablanca
FilmFanatic095 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
No film captures the classical Hollywood style quite so well as "Casablanca." The film seamlessly combines romance and intrigue in its exotic location, remarkably conveyed by mere studio sets. The black and white cinematography is perfect for capturing and adding mood to the smoke filled rooms, war torn city streets, and foggy airports that compose the world of this film. Despite seeming a product of its time, "Casablanca" is truly a timeless piece of entertainment. It would be futile to recount the plot here. Even those who have never seen the film are likely to be aware that "Casablanca" is the film where Ingrid Bergman is forced to chose between old lover Humphrey Bogart and her resistance leader husband (the often overlooked Paul Henreid). Bergman as Ilsa Lund, the center of the love triangle, is magnificent here. She communicates with such ease the very different types of love she feels for each man in her life, and we sympathize with her struggle. Of course, Bogart too created a legendary performance as café owner Rick Blaine. Seeing him transform from the man who will stick his neck out for nobody to someone content with making a great self-sacrifice is one of the joys of the film.

Bogart and Bergman are leading players among equals however, and are rightly matched by numerous character actors, not the least of which is Claude Rains. In his portrayal of French Vichy officer Captain Renault, he hits the perfect notes to show off both the corrupt and goodhearted sides of the character. He also gets to deliver some of the film's best comedic one-liners. Another unforgettable actor is Dooley Wilson as the congenial piano player Sam, who of course provides the quintessential rendition of "As Time Goes By". Director Michael Curtiz certainly does these fine actors justice. The film has some striking visuals too. Be on the lookout for the raindrops on a letter which look more like tears, and the symbolism provided by a bottle of water towards the film's end. Viewers aware of the many troubles that plagued the production of "Casablanca," should be amazed at the manner in which the film as a whole is able to so greatly transcend the sum of its parts.

When you pause and really consider it, "Casablanca" is a much simpler film than many others also hailed as classics. It was based on an unremarkable (and unproduced) stage play, shot on a modest budget, and released with the thought of the natural appeal it would carry for its wartime audiences. And yet it has endured so long beyond that. Much has been made on the subject of reading "Casablanca" as a political allegory, with Rick representing isolationist America, Lazlo the Free French, so on, and so on. This rightfully compels the film student in me. But in all actuality, the romantic in me is much more captivated by the story of three little people caught up in the problems of a crazy world. The nuances of the characters, the sense of urgency ominously hanging over every scene, and the tear jerking story of love lost, found, and lost once more in the name of a bigger cause are the elements that stay with us. For me, as well as countless other film lovers around the world, the first viewing of "Casablanca" proves to be the start of a very beautiful friendship.
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