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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originally made its debut in 1942.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.
Lauren Bacall was wonderful as Ilsa...in a parallel universe. Too bad
it was Ingrid Bergman who ended up with the role, I just couldn't buy
the Bogie'n Bergman love story and would have loved to see Lauren
instead! So I gave this movie a 4, as soon as I was done watching.
Because Bergman failed to convince me and I cringed at their Paris
scenes. I mean Bogie, romantic?! Are you kiddin' me?! (I was even more
shocked to see Bogie smile!) I was bored through the story, the men's
thick black eyeliner looked like an ethnic joke, their white eyeliner
was a little less distracting, but I've seen worse, so I decided what
the heck, I'm 1/4th through this movie might as well keep going since
it's not like it's starring *insert your most insipid actress and
buffoon of an actor here* And OK, since I'm well-endowed in the
"suspend disbelief" department, I'll pretend I'll buy Ingmar Bergman or
whatever as the love interest.
Since some of the dialog was amazing, I thought I'd actually give this a 7. For effort. Plus the "last night was so long ago/tonight? I don't plan that far ahead" exchange was awesome. (I'm gonna have to memorize these lines, I'm sure to use them sometime!) And the music was not bad. So what the heck, it doesn't deserve a 7 but I'm not in a bad mood tonight and it's Christmas, right?! But what the **** happened to "Play it again, Sam!"? I never once heard it and I felt ripped off throughout the movie! I heard "Play it, Sam" Who misquotes a movie, really? OUTRAGEOUS!!! Just for that, I felt like I needed a refund, and let me tell you, that 7 was quickly turning into a 5. Plus I'd seen the final scene, the Bogie/Bergman exchange, final scene, it says so on You Tube. Right? So who cares, I already know how it ends.
It wasn't the final scene after all! WTH??! After years of believing that's how it ended, now they ripoff the ending too by adding some insipid action? Couldn't they have been done at that scene since it's *supposed* to be the only end anyone cares about? (After all, it's the only one "they" ever show!! What else could there be, really?!) Well, in the end--and sorry to put it this way if you kinda like this film--but what do you think I could possibly give this sorry little B&W film maker's menial effort of a wanna-be movie? Well, if you should know I only gave it a mere TEN! That's right! Was I glad I stuck with it till the end! It got better and better until it became one of the best movies ever! I didn't expect the surprise ending, that's for sure! Blown away!
This one is definitely worth a re-watch sometime soon, minus my "Dancing-with-the-Stars-judge-raising-score-on-a-panel-every-5-secs" attitude. I don't think I've ever seen a movie where I went from "who gives a c^^p about you?" to absolutely blown away by the characters and their turn of events. In a sense I went from caring about Rick just about as little as Rick himself did to making a 180 degree turnabout. Sort of like Rick did at the end! Amazing!! And Ingrid Bergman was indeed good, certainly not my first choice for Ilsa--still would have loved to see Bacall--but she held her own. Here's looking at you, Kid! It's like after the movie was over, I came to the realization that I had been a Rick of sorts throughout. And the movie took me through my own 180.
Does everyone feel like this when watching this movie? Is it supposed to turn us all into Ricks and then flip-flop us around leaving us utterly dazed and not knowing what hit us there for a second? Or is it just me? It almost felt like a spiritual experience! Almost! It was simply amazing! 10/10. Come what may, I'll always have Casablanca in my DVD collection!
*** 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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I know everyone won't agree with me, but I think Casablanca is the
better movie for the following reasons.
1. Better cast. Humphrey Bogart vs. Orson Welles? No contest. Ingrid Bergman vs. any of the actresses in CK? Again, no contest. The same goes for the rest.
2. Better, tighter plot and pacing. The plot and pacing of Casablanca is totally superior. You have to pay attention through the entire movie or you will miss crucial dialog or plot developments. Citizen Kane's plot moves at a snail's pace by comparison, and it's non-linear, which makes it more confusing. Plus, Casablanca tells a better story.
3. Better romance. Who even talks about the romance in Citizen Kane?
4. Greater truths explored. While the truths explored in Citizen Kane are important, (limits of wealth and power, the dangers of one man gaining too much power), Casablanca explores more and greater truths, such as freedom being worth any sacrifice, that no matter how many people tyrants kill there are always others who will step up to replace them, how America was seen as the last hope for freedom by those trying to escape from or being oppressed by Nazi tyranny, the critical importance of fidelity in marriage, (which CK barely touched on), and how totally cynical men like Rick and Captain Renault could become patriots, just to name a few.
5. Better musical score. Although both scores were nominated for Academy Awards, I really think the score for Casablanca was far more memorable.
6. Many more memorable lines. Do I really have to go into this? I don't think so. Besides, plenty of others have already posted comments here about the many memorable lines in Casablanca.
7. More Academy Awards. 3 for Casablanca vs. 1 for Citizen Kane.
8. Better final scene. I just think seeing Rick and Captain Renault walking off together with the line, "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." beats the scene of "Rosebud" being burned up all hollow. Plus, it touches on another truth, the importance of friendship.
9. Casablanca, as well as some of Hollywood's other greatest movies, was made following what I call the "Indiana Jones Method". They made it up as they went. Although it can be tough on the actors, this often results in a better movie.
10. Casablanca is both timely and timeless at the same time. The same could be said of Citizen Kane, but I think a fictionalized account of the life of William R. Hearst, (which is what everyone, including Hearst himself, thinks or thought CK is) grows LESS relevant as time passes. The timeless themes of Casablanca, lost love, resisting tyranny, patriotism, and freedom being worth any sacrifice will NEVER lose their relevance. Which is why it's so much more than just a WWII propaganda piece.
Although I have to admit a slight bias because the main character of Casablanca and I happen to share the same first name, I think I've shown enough other reasons why I prefer it. I honestly believe that the only reason the AFI rates Citizen Kane #1 is because of the many ground breaking techniques Orson Welles used to make it. As for me, I just think that, since the primary purpose of any movie is to tell a story, and use the story to explore and expound on truths that never change, story should trump technique every time. Movies that forget this almost never do well, and are usually soon forgotten. Citizen Kane barely broke even, but it shouldn't be forgotten. I just don't think it's the better movie.
*** This review may contain 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.
What makes Casablanca the greatest?
The detail. After Ugate is arrested Rick moves forward and picks up a small glass that has fallen over.
When Sam is playing 'As Time Goes by' and Rick is drinking to forget (the famous scene) he involuntarily moans from within. He shows the man's heartbreak - the reactions of emotion running through a body broken by booze and sorrow.
This is acting and film making at it's very finest.
The inner decency of Rick is moving as is Ingrid Bergmann's tear filled eyes - but the throat catcher is the singing of the Marselliase and Yvonne's impassioned 'Vive La France!'
This was war time, and the film makes us remember what it was all for. Hollywood should look at the script - how simply it is constructed - and learn - there is a public worldwide that wants scripts of this quality about real people.
*** 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 ***
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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