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What can be said that has not already been said about this film for the ages? Allstar cast made up of the usual subjects...Bogie, Sydney, Peter (also together in "Maltese Falcon"). Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa never looked better...she is absolutely perfect for the time and place. Sam, the Coupier, the bartender, the waiter, and of course Louie, generate the same electricity, heart, soul, in this one magical blend as we have seen in long running sitcoms like 'Taxi', 'Mash', and especially 'Cheers'. You will want to see it over and over again. A movie the entire family can watch, no censorship needed. It grabs you from the opening narration and doesn't let go...The ending is a classic. 'Casablanca' and you; The start of a beautiful friendship.
This movie can only be described as GREAT - and it gets even better
with the passage of time and the more you see it. The tone of the
story, and the presentation of the legendary Bogart persona, and his
most famous characterization, Rick, the American ex-patriot owner of
the famous Casablanca night club, is completely exemplified in two
early scenes. The essence of "cool" and "authoritative," Rick is in the
private area of his establishment. Sitting alone at a chess board, he
nods to his large guardian (in Mideastern attire and fez) at the entry
door as to whether persons seeking entry are to be permitted or not.
One man, tall and pompous, a key official (perhaps the head) of
Deutsche Bank, gets a "no" nod from Rick. As he protests, Rick joins
the guard at the door, and indicates the man must limit his patronage
to the bar. As the man, protesting still, hands Rick his card, Rick
rips it and tosses the pieces aside.
The arrogant big-shot shouts, "What!? Do you know who I am!?" Rick,/Bogie replies with his unique look and tone, "I do; you're lucky the bar's open to you!!"
Next, Peter Lorre, as the smarmy, little, shady character, Ugarte, sits down at Rick's table. He has the "Letters of Transit" which he later gives to Rick for keeping, and which comprise a key element to this story.
But before this, conversing, he says to Rick, in his quiet nasal voice, "You despise me, don't you?" To which Bogie replies, "Oh, if I gave you any thought, I probably would."
It would be worth watching the entire film if only those two brief exchanges were all there was to enjoy. But they are only a preliminary to a picture and story which have offered everything one could desire, but even more as time passes. The drama, the depiction of the mood of the time and feeling of WW II, and sensational performances from the four principals - Bogart, Bergman, Rains and Henreid - and Lorre, Greenstreet, Wilson, Veidt, and the remainder of the supporting cast, all provide one of the most entertaining couple of hours you can find, regardless of medium or period presented.
Regarding this turbulent time during the maturation of WW II in Europe and northern Africa - as an historical, nostalgic representation of that part of our history, and this film's representation of the best of Hollywood's craft during that era - it provides us more to appreciate today than it did when produced, or when it may have been viewed during years past, and closer to the time period of the story.
If someone were to place a gun to my head and demand a criticism of any aspect of this film, the only thing I could cite would be the thought that Henreid's Victor character show perhaps a bit more energy and charisma. Henreid was one of Hollywood's most suave, virile, "continental" characters, and the man who was already noted for his lighting two cigarettes simultaneously, for Bette Davis and him in "Now Voyager." In "Casablanca" we are given to assume that the fate of the free world may hinge on his patriotic, underground leadership, and that the Nazis must fear his abilities more than Eisenhower's or Montgomery's. Granted he would have been low-key in not wanting to stir-up the authorities while seeking to leave - but Paul seemed to "lower the key" a bit more than he might have in his performance. However, this is minor, and in no way diminishes this film's greatness.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Casablanca" has been my favorite movie for the past thirty years, and
each annual viewing further cements that standing. For me, it's the
perfect film, with perfect characters, locales, action, romance and
dialog. In fact, it is the most quoted movie ever, including a line
that was never even uttered (Play it again, Sam).
It's hard to imagine that during the studio days of the 1940's, "Casablanca" was just one more movie being pumped out a week at a time by Warner Brothers. The story itself, based on a stage play "Everybody Comes to Rick's" went through continuous rewrites, even as filming was under way. Fortunately, the vision of a handful of gifted artists ultimately found it's way on screen, with a cast as colorful and star studded as any before or since. Even the music, composed for the film by Max Steiner is perfect, dominating the Paris flashback scenes of Rick and Ilsa's fleeting romance.
Now picture if you will, the original contenders for the three acting leads in the film; Dennis Morgan for Victo Laszlo, Ann Sheridan for Ilsa Lund, and George Raft or Ronald Reagan for the part of Rick Blaine. If that had actually occurred, the result may well have wound up in obscurity, but instead, Warner Brothers went out of their way to hire on Ingrid Bergman, on loan from David Selznick in return for Olivia DeHaviland. For the part of Victor Laszlo, Warner signed up Paul Henreid who was under contract to RKO Pictures. Coming off a successful on screen collaboration in "The Maltese Falcon", Humphrey Bogart as Rick was once again supported by Peter Lorre as the scheming Ugarte, and Sydney Greenstreet as the conniving owner of the rival gambling joint, "The Blue Parrot". Rounding out the major film credits, Conrad Veidt successfully sneers his way into Rick's world as Nazi General Major Strasser; and for sheer delight in a characterization, there's none to equal Claude Rains' portrayal of Prefect of Police Captain Reinault. Rick and Ilsa may have always had Paris, but Rick and Reinault have always had Casablanca.
The ultimate outcome of the film was not known during early film production in May of 1942. It was not until brothers Julius and Philip Epstein, brought in for their humorous wit, both got their inspiration in a single moment while driving down Sunset Boulevard - "Round up the usual suspects". Cleverly interjecting the elimination of the hated villain Strasser by the film's hero, the film successfully answers the question of who gets the girl. Ilsa, in love with one man but devoted to the cause of another, must resign herself to the fate entrusted to Rick the night before - "You have to think for both of us, for all of us".
Even world events conspired to help "Casablanca" achieve it's unparalleled success. Originally to be released in June 1943, Warner Brothers' dedication to the war effort was matched by the Allied landing in North Africa in November 1942, in Casablanca. Shortly after on Thanksgiving Day 1942, the film opened in New York following a wildly enthusiastic pre-screening. And in a well timed follow up, the general release date of January 23, 1943 coincided with a conference between President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill in Casablanca.
"Casablanca" cemented Humphrey Bogart's reputation as a romantic leading man, and made Ingrid Bergman a very popular star. Though each would continue on in highly successful careers, they would not appear in another film together, and that's probably for the best. Both artists achieved their master work in "Casablanca", and how do you top a perfect?
One of my all-time favourite movies, I've now seen it over 20 times
with no loss of admiration.
For all the "making it up as they went along" hokum it's an ABC of Hollywood film-making, everything is perfect and perfectly in place - all you need to know to make a movie in fact. Although no imitators of course could hope to come close.
The acting, the script, the witty dialogue, the music, the atmosphere, all come together into a marvellous blend, albeit with faults - what hasn't got faults? Maybe too much corn and the fast speed at which Rick's patriotism suddenly rears its head, but these are minor considerations. Everything can be forgiven at Rick's.
It was dated the first time I saw 30 odd years ago, I think it is one of the few films ever made to have passed beyond that state, into a timeless world where all that is shown and all that happens on that screen is utterly believable - like a filmic fairy tale in fact! So many favourite bits it'd be easier listing dull moments: No, I still see Ilsa's tear-rimmed eyes and so submit to the inevitable - it's a beautiful film!
Wow! Ingrid Bergman was at her best in this one, as well as her most sad, doe-eyed, beautiful. The part of Rick seemed made for Bogey, with the snappy repartee, and the cynical shell around what Renault refers to as "a rank sentimentalist". It seems like every time I see this film I notice something new. This time it had to do with the Bulgarian woman, Annina Brandel, who Rick rescues from the carnal plotting of Captain Renault. I never gave this scene much thought, just assuming that it was a way to plumb the limits of Rick's cynicism, as noted above. But later, during the scene where Ilsa tells Rick that she'll stay with him if he will use the letters of transit for Laszlo, I realized that the two scenes were a common theme, that Rick realizes he'd be no different from Renault if he followed through with that. I guess one gets lazy seeing modern Hollywood fare. Nowadays, the director would have used a flashback image or something, in order to bludgeon the viewer with the correlation. But back then, with a better-educated public, one could allow audiences to discover things for themselves. It was also skillful how these films could be more or less suitable for children, as well as adults. When I saw this film as a child, it never occurred to me that Rick and Ilsa had had sex. But the clues, while too subtle for a child, were pretty obvious to me as a man. Like many people this film is my all-time favorite. Grade: A+++++
After watching this movie by myself, I have decided that if I was ever
to watch this with a woman I definitely would win some major points.
This is one of the best movies ever. Although it starts off slow, you
really get into it. I have never seen such an excellent portrayal of
forbidden love between two lovers. How could Bogart just walk away! I
know I never could.
This movie really makes you associate with the characters and really become involved with them. I can't count how many times I became angry when she wouldn't just leave with Bogart. If you like great love movies or just great movies in general, this movie is for you. And guys, it wouldn't hurt to watch this with a special someone.
Casablanca, does it reflect society or does society reflect this little
hole in the wall resort? When watching the movie, one can't help but
notice all the lines that just seem so cliché and yet fit so well into
the story; is it because the coolest cat of them all (Humphrey Bogart)
is delivering them? Is it because this movie is completely satirical in
nature so it just adds humor to the plot? Or is it because the clichés
we hear everyday have come from this movie
all 10 + of them.
Maybe not so much reason number 2 but definitely reason 3 and perhaps a little of number 1. Humphrey Bogart is THE definition of 'cool'; literally, look it up in the dictionary and his picture will be there. So when this swanky, hip guy says 'Here's lookin' at you kid' for the umpteenth time, it's acceptable because it's Bogey, and what Bogey does is cool, never overdone.
This movie is set during WWII and is about a leader from the underground movement (Victor Laszlo played by Paul Henreid), his wife (Ilsa Lund Laszlo played by Ingrid Bergman) and the owner of a little café, (Rick Blaine played by Humphrey Bogart). It is about when they have a chance meeting in Morocco, some for a first introduction and others for a surprise reunion. Of course, there is a lovely flashback set to the lovers' song and the story of what happened years ago and how things have ended up the way they are becomes clear. As a 15 year-old freshmen this movie wasn't enjoyable, but 3 years later this movie is absolutely adorable and very much recommended as a 'must-see'. Berlin and Bogart has such chemistry and the story has such an interesting twist, it's hard to accept but at the same time that's how things must be. It leaves you with a sense of completion but at the same time uneasy because there are other possibilities that will never be fulfilled. 3 weeks later, the lost dreams are still irritating to this reviewer.
American society is defiantly portrayed in this film, Humphrey plays a café owner that, 9 times out of 10, is doing something for his own benefit, but then he does something to help someone else and it just seems to completely mask the 'bad' things he may have done. For example, there is gambling going on in Rick's Café; there is a roulette wheel, in fact, a fixed one. This wheel is fixed so that Rick is getting more returns back and it isn't a fair game of chance. But then a woman in a desperate situation with a genuine need for money to save herself, her husband, and their marriage comes along and Rick gets soft. He then discreetly tells the woman's husband the winning slot number and color so that he can win money and they can get on to a better place. Rick saved that woman from a huge burden and it completely makes up for his owning a fixed wheel.
This is much in the same way reflective of American society. As a country we are constantly doing what we need to get ahead in life, even if for some people it requires cheating or lying; much the same way we have tremendous powers over other countries we didn't get it just by sweet-talking. But other people will come along once in a while and hit a soft spot in your heart and there is an urge to do the right thing and help them out, much like a country will be in need and we'll help them out, hopefully in the best way possible.
This movie is really a great one; it has love, danger, and politics, an interesting mixture of topics to keep every person interested in some way. Rated highly among movies it definitely has earned a top spot on this reviewers list. And if anything, it reminds us to help other around us make the best possible decisions for their lives, we need to follow Rick's example a little more often even if he does do a lot of dirty business he truly does care for those around him if they are good people.
Ah, Casablanca...everyone's second favorite movie! On the recent DVD
commentary, Ebert remarks that he's never heard a bad review of this film.
I think he's asking for it there, because I've certainly heard some negative
comments in my time, but usually these criticisms come from the sort of
people who have a seizure the moment they're forced to watch something in
black-and-white. So, we can disregard their opinions then! Every movie
lover seems to like Casablanca, and that kind of almost limitless appeal is
I consider this movie a triumph in the name of good screenwriting. The directing and production values are certainly fine, for their time, but it's the great LINES that everyone remembers; yet Hollywood still rarely acknowledges the key role that writers play in movie-making, preferring instead to pump up the myth that directors are the sole creative forces that drive production (I'm not denying directors' importance here - merely arguing that it is perhaps exaggerated, as this movie's classic status indicates).
My favorite thing about Casablanca? Strangely, it's Claude Raines, who is simply so funny and seedy that he sticks in my mind every time I watch it. I love him, but because he's such a sleaze, I feel uncomfortable for it; in many ways, he's the most morally ambiguous part of the movie! Of course, Bogey rules too, and the supporting cast contains two of the greatest character actors...well, ever. Greenstreet and Lorre (or, as I prefer to call them, the Fat Man and the Bug) have more personality than most of today's "stars" combined, and they're just two of the many highlights here.
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.
Everyone, for as long as I can remember, has harped on about how good this
film is. Now I'm quite a cynical person, so for a very long time I avoided
it, not wanting to jump on the ever popular band wagon. Well, a while ago
happened across a cheap DVD version of it and thought (for some unknown
reason) why not?
We (me and the wife) put it on one Saturday night and sat down with some wine.... ....we now have 3 Bogart films and are looking out for more.
If you don't like the sound of this film, give it a try. I was shocked at how good it was! Honestly, I couldn't have been more surprised if in The Great Escape instead of digging out they ended up building sandcastles and thinking "this is jolly good fun, lets stay here instead". It really is that good!!
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