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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.
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.
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!!!!!!
There are literally hundreds of comments about this movie on IMDB. Many of
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.
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.
Old Hollywood doesn't get a free pass on this list. And perhaps the
most overrated of the classic Hollywood films is Casablanca. AFI calls
it the 3rd best film of all time. The IMDb 250 ranks it #8. Almost any
list of the top ten films in history includes this Oscar-winning film.
When people think of this movie, then tend to think of the famous
lines: "Here's looking at you, kid"
"Play it again, Sam"
"We'll always have Paris"
People also remember the
look of the film: the glorious, rich black and white, with Humphrey
Bogart smoking in the darkness. All of those ridiculous things makes
people love it, but the movie doesn't quite live up its status as the
best of the best. Does it really hold up after almost 70 years later as
the highest achievement in filmmaking? I'd definitely have to say no.
Ultimately, I think nostalgia makes people give this movie more acclaim
and praise than it deserves. Romance films are always boring, always
about some guy crazy about a girl and not much else, and there are
indeed good films from the 30's and 40's that are better than this
film, for instance like King Kong.
The acting, as was often the case in the 1940s, is a bit campy and shallow. Bogart's character is witty, sharp, and cynical, but he doesn't seem particularly real. There's a stage-play "acting" style to all the performances. Bogart's role as Rick is far from his best work. He delivers dozens of quips, but they don't seem like something a real person would actually say. The characters, aside from Rick and Ilsa, are mostly caricatures. Sam is a piano-playing black sidekick with no other human qualities, despite being one of Rick's oldest friends. The Germans in Raiders of the Lost Ark were more complex. The cynical Captain Renault is little more than a memorable bit of comic relief. And while I understand that some of this acting style was common at the time, but even for that era, the acting in Casablanca feels a bit thin. It's a mediocre story, it often has the feel of a larger-than-life Broadway play more than a work of cinema. If audiences watched it for the first time today, few would think the movie belongs in the top ten, even in the top twenty of all-time films. Just because a film is memorable, that doesn't mean it is great.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
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.
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Arguably the greatest film ever made. It is a classic for a reason,
this film tells a great story, tells a love story and is a political
commentary at the same time, all while being supremely entertaining.
From start to finish this movie continues to pull you in, and makes remarkable references to world events at the time. You are introduced to Rick, played by the legendary Humphrey Bogart, an American who "sticks his neck out for nobody" but who was fought bravely in the past against the same type of enemy the other characters are up against. This is clearly a singular personification of the history and the stance America had in 1941 prior to Pearl Harbor. Early in the story we see the keys to salvation handed over to him by Ugarte, played by Jewish actor Peter Lorre, who himself fled from the Nazi's in 1933 to come to America. Ugarte who is killed summarily early on in the story is something of a representative of the heartless horrors that Jewish refugees were telling of what was happening to Jews in Nazi Europe at the time. Rick is now the safeguard of "letters of transit" which play an important role and overall become a character in their own.
Taking place in what can only be described as purgatory we are introduced to a host of characters that need help to get out and the ones that prey on those needing that help. In this place the Vichy French, under influence of the Nazi's rule the land, and their prefect, the corrupt but still somehow noble in a way, Captain Renault, who becomes a representative of all French who wish to be free of Nazi rule, mainly because he doesn't like being told what to do more than anything. It is into this we see the great conflict as Victor Laslo, a legendary Czech freedom fighter against Nazi rule is brought into the story. Victor becomes a representative of all of Europe that needs the help of America, and as the singular American in the story, speaking for all of us he seeks out Rick, who now holds the key to Victors, and his wife's freedom. With the introduction of Victor Laslo we meet his wife Ilsa Lund, played by Ingrid Bergman, who we learn has had a past with Rick, a past that has scarred them both, but their feelings still remain. Here we see the American past with Europe personified, we have a past with that continent and most of us love that past but we want our own future and now our past love needs our help, so Rick has to come to the rescue. This relationship is summed up in one line Ilsa says to Rick "you have to think for both of us, for all of us" where we see the desperation and the need for salvation.
The climax to the movie is a masterful one, where a race to get Victor and Ilsa on the last plane out of Casablanca is taking place, where Rick has weaved a web of decit that bravely ensures they will get out alive if all goes according to plan. Prior to their escape one of the most famous monologues takes place that almost brings tears to the eyes of all who see it. And after the dust has settled Rick, the American, and Captain Renault the Frenchmen who has realigned his allegiances and saved Rick from the Nazi's walk off into the foggy night in what is "the beginning of a beautiful friendship" where side by side the Americans will stand with the French against the Nazi's.
In the end we see it as a highly critical editorial commentary made by Warner Brothers of the stance America had before entering the war. It also stands as a noble and optimistic beacon for events to come.
It's that kind of cynicism that makes this old-time classic endearing to a
modern day audience. "Casablanca" is a noirish melodrama set against the
back-drop of WWII and Europeans fleeing to America by way of French Morocco.
What's so refreshing about it, in spite of its classical love triangle
theatrics, is that is never places romantic love on a pedestal. It realizes
that in a world of uncertainty where neutrality is the biggest crime, there
are more noble things than love.
This movie is sited by many critics and viewers alike as one of the top three greatest films ever made. It's easy to see why. It contains probably the greatest dialogue ever written for the screen. It stars two screen icons in their greatest roles and a superb supporting cast. It's directed by Curtiz with a complete lack of pretension. There's nothing overtly artistic about it, or any sign that anybody involved was trying too hard. Essentially this was a gathering of classy professionals who set out to accomplish one thing: make an entertaining film. In the process, they might have made the greatest. Unlike so many of the other classics of this period, you never have to view it "in context" to appreciate and enjoy it. Rock solid entertainment anchored by smart writing cleverly cast and competently directed translates well in any day and age. Play it again, Sam, and it gets even better As Time Goes By.
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