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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originally made its debut in 1942.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.
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.
*** 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.
*** 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.
Once in a while you find yourself stumbling upon a film whose
reputation precedes it . It doesn't matter what anyone on this site or
out in the wider world says about it . CASABLANCA is a case in point .
Anything I or anyone else writers here is entirely superfluous because
any insight has already been said and anyone saying anything negative
is instantly considered a contrition merely for the sake of it .
CASABLANCA is cinematic legend . End of . It should be noted however
that despite being broadcast on a relatively regular basis in the 1970s
on British television it hasn't appeared very often in recent years .
It might be wrong to point out that it was a mainstay in the top ten of
the IMDb top 250 but nowadays it's sliding down the list as more people
are exposed to it and perhaps think its legendary status isn't as
deserved as it could have been . Perhaps I too belong to that camp
The reputation means so many people have actually forgotten what the film is about . Slightly patriotic flag waver where the forces of democracy get one over on the vile Nazis , slightly romantic pot boiler , and very much redemption plot it's a film that does have a feelgood factor . The story revolves around Rick , an embittered cynic who is only interested in profiting from the war and as events turn out he's about to discover that there's somethings far more important than money . Everything could have been done a little bit better especially when you consider Michael Curtiz is very much a contender for best film director of the 20th Century who made a lot of differing genre films and was always very good at what he did . His problem was that his films weren't marketed for a bitterly cynical audience in the 21st Century and seem a little bit too old fashioned when seen today . That said the up side is you enjoy classic Hollywood with its emphasis on stardom , dialogue and feel good factor there's a lot to admire in CASABLANCA but you have go in to it with the certain knowledge that it's not quite the masterwork its legendary reputation suggests it is
That is the main problem with Michael Curtiz in general and CASABLANCA in particular . A film like ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES doesn't contain one single scene or line of dialogue that can be classed as realistic in anyway and a film like that which has lines such as " Okay fellas let's say a prayer for a kid who couldn't run as fast as me " would see pop corn and drinks thrown at the screen in 2014 . You have to meet these classic Hollywood movies on there own terms and sometimes cynicism gets in the way
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"This is a beginning of a beautiful friendship" that is how this unforgettable and everlasting movie, which talks about love, friendship, loyalty, intrigue, and survival ends. The play takes place in the city of Casablanca, and even though we are unable to see the city (because the action takes place mainly in Ricks' bar), the life of the city is present. On one side are refugees waiting to escape from the horrors of war, and on the other are those who still enjoy nights full of gambling and entertainment, or smuggling and enrichment. The love story is started in war Paris, and revived through the memories in the currently more peaceful Morocco. The fact that love is stronger and larger than any other living thing, and subordinate to world events, is show in the decisions Rick (H. Bogart) makes. Although the movie is black-and-white, it even more emphasizes time events. There is also a color version of the film, but it feels like something is missing. If you have a chance to watch it, you shouldn't miss this masterpiece. And if you have watched it... Play It Again Sam.
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