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Casablanca More at IMDbPro »

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8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Casablanca gets better and better as time goes by!

10/10
Author: jotix100 from New York
27 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 It enjoys presently perhaps more popularity than when it originally made its debut in 1942.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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11 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

This film is way too overrated.

2/10
Author: Professor_Zoom
13 February 2012

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"… "I'm shocked, shocked"… "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.

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12 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Some Film Invents Humanity

Author: tedg (tedg@filmsfolded.com) from Virginia Beach
10 August 2001

*** This review may contain 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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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Wartime Themes

Author: Lechuguilla from Dallas, Texas
28 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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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

THE Greatest Movie Ever Made

10/10
Author: Brodieman808 from United States
13 July 2006

*** 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.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

I'd Like to Think You Killed a Man, It's the Romantic in Me

10/10
Author: David H. Schleicher from New Jersey, USA
16 August 2003

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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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

the problems of two little people ...

9/10
Author: didi-5 from United Kingdom
11 July 2003

Everyone remembers 'As Time Goes By' (the song that only stayed in the film, so popular culture has it, because Bergman had cut her hair for 'Joan of Arc', and couldn't retake scenes using another tune) but there is much more to this world-weary romance.

Bogart, of course, was hardly the usual romantic movie hero. Which is possibly what makes him so perfect for Rick, in his Casablanca nightspot, on nobody's side. He spars with Claude Rains (the crooked police captain) and Sidney Greenstreet (a rival bar owner) like a trooper, has a quiet contempt for Paul Henreid (a freedom fighter) and Peter Lorre (a thief), gives Conrad Veidt (the Nazi Major) as good as he gets, is on the level with employees Dooley Wilson and Cuddles Sakall.

Through all this, truly loves Ingrid Bergman (the beautiful Ilse, the love of his life). It is their story, but not the story you might expect. This is the secret, I think, of 'Casablanca' and its lasting success. From the moment we see the map and the film title to the 'beautiful friendship' line at the end, we're hooked. Every performance is a lasting joy.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

The best of a kind

9/10
Author: Spleen from Canberra, Australia
16 April 2002

*** This review may contain 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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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Exceptional, Outstanding, Wonderful, Dominant, a Total Triumph

Author: tfrizzell from United States
26 January 2001

If all films were made like "Casablanca" it would be a perfect world. Very rarely does a film move its audience the way that this film does. The movie deals with a romance that just cannot be because of numerous circumstances. World War II is quickly turning the planet upside down and many Europeans are making their way to Casablanca to get visas to escape the Nazi regime. Paul Henreid and wife Ingrid Bergman are among the many who have made the odyssey. However, trouble springs up when they must go through Bergman's old flame (Humphrey Bogart, Oscar-nominated). More trouble arises with French military official Claude Rains (Oscar-nominated) and his strained relations with the Nazis. It is a heartwrenching film that dominates because of an outstanding screenplay, amazing direction by Michael Curtiz, and superb performances by all involved. A great movie. 5 stars out of 5.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Greatest war propaganda movie ever made

10/10
Author: Robert Kurtz (cr3@tentacle.net) from Berkeley, CA
22 March 2000

Every thing positive everyone has ever said about this movie is true. Still compelling after all these years, one of my top ten movies, I can go back and watch every few years.

This movie works on every level, drama, love story, suspense, but most of all it is a war propaganda movie. Pro war, pro allies, anti Nazi, even a little anti French, this movie was made smack in the middle of WWII when the outcome was still in doubt and designed get the public behind the war effort. It sure was more fun then those 'Victory gardens, paper drives and gas rationing' and other techniques to get public support. It is impossible for a film made for this purpose to stand the test of time, but Casablanca has, and that's why it is such an incredible film.

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