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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
To mark my 1100th review for IMDb I turn to another of my favourite
films. And not just one of mine. Its regular appearance on lists of the
greatest films of all time suggest that "Casablanca" is also one of the
world's favourite films. It has given the English language more
well-known quotations than virtually any other film- "Here's looking at
you, kid", "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful
friendship", "Round up the usual suspects", "We'll always have Paris",
"Play it again, Sam" (yes, I know that one's a misquote) and "Of all
the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine"
(also often misquoted, generally as "Of all the bars
Yet at the time it was made, it was just one of many wartime propaganda films made by Hollywood. It was based upon an obscure play which had never been performed professionally. (It still hasn't in America, although it was produced briefly in London's West End in 1991). It starred an actor best known at that date for gangster pictures, and an actress whose early Hollywood films, apart from "Intermezzo", had not been wildly successful. Few would have predicted, therefore, that "Casablanca" would not only win the "Best Picture" Oscar for 1943 but would also go on to enjoy such lasting popularity.
I don't intend to set out the plot, which is already well-known, in detail, but rather to discuss what makes it such a favourite of mine. One feature is what might be called its moral complexity, something it shares with the film noir style of which Humphrey Bogart was such a noted exponent. I would not, however, classify "Casablanca" as noir, largely because it does not, except perhaps in the airport scene at the end, use the sort of expressionistic photography which characterised the genre.
I do not mean that the film is morally ambiguous politically. Its politics are quite clear; the Nazis are evil and the Allied cause is just. (For this reason, I always wish Michael Curtiz had been allowed to use the "Horst Wessel Lied" in the song-duel with "La Marseillaise". The producers, however, refused, on the bizarre grounds that the Nazi anthem was protected by copyright, so Curtiz had to substitute "Die Wacht am Rhein", a 19thcentury patriotic song with no Nazi connotations).
The film's ambiguity arises at a personal rather than political level. The only character who is unambiguously heroic is the noble and idealistic Victor. Rick Blaine starts off as a disillusioned cynic, cynical both about personal relationships and about politics, and unwilling to "stick his neck out" for anyone. He has a murky past, operates a gambling operation of dubious legitimacy and, for unexplained reasons, is unable to return to America. Ilsa is somewhat sanitised compared to Lois, the equivalent character in the original play, and explanations are provided for some of her more questionable actions, but the fact remains that she is in love with a man other than her husband, and would be prepared to desert her husband for that man. Louis Renault, the Chief of Police, is quite openly corrupt, accepting bribes to issue the vital "exit visas" which will enable refugees to leave Casablanca; if the refugee in question is an attractive woman he is prepared to accept payment in the form of sexual favours rather than cash.
By the end of the film, however, all three have achieved redemption. Renault, who has no love for the Vichy regime he serves or their German masters, resolves to serve his country's interests rather than his own. Ilsa recognises that her place is by her husband's side and her duty to support him in his struggle. Rick not only recovers his lost political idealism but also, like Ilsa, sacrifices his own personal happiness and puts duty before love. Rick is the only major character who is an American, and can be seen as symbolising America's own journey from neutrality to wholehearted participation in the anti-Fascist struggle. It is significant that the action takes place in early December 1941, in the last few days before Pearl Harbor.
The complexity of these three characters demands acting of a high standard, and Bogart, Bergman and Claude Rains are all excellent. Bogart is particularly good; this is the finest of all his performances that I have seen, better even than "The African Queen" for which he won his only Oscar. (Not having seen Paul Lukas in"Watch on the Rhine" I cannot say whether Bogart deserved to win in 1943). There are several other good performances; those that stand out most come from Sydney Greenstreet as Rick's business rival Ferrari and Conrad Veidt as the main Nazi Major Strasser.
Paul Henreid as Victor is sometimes regarded as the acting "weak link", and he is certainly less than charismatic, but I felt this was necessary to emphasise the contrast between his character and Rick's. Rick may have a dubious past, but Bogart also makes him fascinating and charming enough to win and retain Ilsa's love, even though she is married to a man of great nobility whom she deeply admires. Henreid, by contrast, makes Victor the sort of man who can inspire admiration but who does not perhaps have enough warmth on a personal level to retain the wholehearted love of his wife.
Another notable feature is the musical score, making reference to the French and German national anthems, and the songs, especially "As Time Goes By", originally written in 1931 but since 1943 always associated with this film.
There is not sufficient space here to do justice to all the many aspects of this wonderful film. I will therefore just close my review by saying that as a combination of war, adventure and romance, and for its perfect marriage of script, direction, acting and music, "Casablanca" cannot be beaten. It gets better as time goes by. 10/10
I have always watched and enjoyed movies produced all over the world
but I feel its high time I put my thoughts on paper for the sake of
records at least . Also, these will have the potential to create some
nostalgic value later.
Coincidentally, I watched Casablanca for the first time (emotionally) few days back. The movie which is largely known as one of the greatest love stories of all time is not one, its much more than a mere love story.
It is a work of a man who at the time of making this piece seemed to have acquired such levels of skills in his art form that it is next to impossible to be able to find a flaw in this work even for the finest of the observers.
How do I even start here? I should very well start with the image which has not left me ever since I have finished watching the movie. There is no doubt that Ingrid Bergman is one of the most naturally beautiful actresses Hollywood has seen in the last century, but in my opinion she is also one of the very few actors who could speak through their eyes exactly what was there in the heart of the character she was playing. This is a skill/gift which is found in a rare breed of actors. The scene where she looks at Rick (Humphrey Bogart) after all those years of separation is a perfect example of the role eyes ought to play to emote ones feelings without utterance of a single alphabet. Its hard to believe how she did not receive an Oscar nomination for this movie as she ended up receiving seven of them in a long glittering career. The prospect of watching all of those is a temptation that can not be defined.
I haven't seen all of Bergman's fine performances but in the few that I have seen, one can easily conclude that she has the ability to give multiple layers to her character which is the case in Casablanca as well. The flair with which she has been able to shift between various moods of innocence, mystery and sheer passion is remarkable. Of course, credit must also go to Curtiz who orchestrated this mood dance.
The character of Rick is like an iceberg which has been put in fire to melt and vanish and just before it starts to lose its identity it takes inspiration from itself and extinguishes the fire with the water it had lost. There could not have been a better choice for this role than Humphrey Bogart, every square inch of whose countenance reflects the state of mind he is in. Moreover, he is a true style icon in this movie and fits the part to the hilt which pops up the following question: was the role of Rick written for him or he was the best fit for the role!
As is seems, the image of protagonists is at the top of my mind their role in the greatness of the movie is certainly not limited to being the faces of the movie. Having said that, below the surface its the work of a master who has engineered multiple components into a giant which overpowers most others in its proximity. This fine piece of work makes its entry straight into the list of Cinema Extraordinaire because of its universal appeal, unique treatment, essentially real yet whimsical script, gripping screenplay and stupendous display of ever changing human behavior.
The range of emotions and situations this film has on offer at every stage of the movie makes it a sumptuous and delicious meal for audiences of varying taste. The movie reaches its climax in 95 minutes and it feels like that perfectly timed dessert which is an extremely rare delight.
The manner in which any two characters have been linked in this movie is the most unique to say the least. There are many two way relationships which have been portrayed with considerable depth on screen in such a small time that you start wondering by the time movie reaches its final moments that how was it even possible to experience so much in such a short time.
Every character leaves an indelible mark even though all it did in the movie was hit a few guitar strings or pick pocket at a restaurant. Every scene in the movie is a study in itself.
This is a must watch for anyone who has ever thought of himself as a movie fan. Casablanca without doubt makes its way in my all time top 5 list!
Romance. Drama. Humphrey Bogart. 3 Academy Awards, including Best
Picture. Put them together and what do you get? Warner Brothers'
"Casablanca". Set in Casablanca during WWII, this film tells the story
of Rick Blaine (Bogart), a bar owner bitter after an abruptly-ended
romance with the lovely Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman). Rick's doing okay, that
is until Ilsa walks back into his bar and his life, bringing her
husband (Paul Henreid) with her. Add into the cast great talents like
Claude Rains, Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet and how can you lose?
Arguably the best movie of all time, "Casablanca" is well-worth viewing. If you haven't seen it, get it and watch it. If you have seen it, get it and watch it again. Watch it, Sam. Watch "Casablanca".
A true classic! Anyone who is a fan of movies must see this film. Simply one of the best movies of all time. Bogart at his absolute best. Great casting (reuniting Bogart, Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet, who played together so well in ' Tha Maltese Falcon', was brilliant). Absolutely one of my favorites. One of Bogart's most sympathetic characters, in one of the most quoted (and misquoted) movies of all-time. Simply fantastic movie-making from a great era in American cinema. This movie, and Bogart's character of 'Rick' most notably, are reminiscent of other great genres of American cinema of the time, like film noir and the hard-boiled detective story (of which Bogart was a mainstay at the time). Anyone who considers his or herself a fan of love stories, drama, or American cinema (or nostalgia) must see this movie. It is the quintessential 40's American movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There is no term to describe this other than classic, but not the type
of classic that a film like THE WIZARD OF OZ or GONE WITH THE WIND are.
That is because when this film was being made, it was just another
assembly line production from it's studio (Warner). When you see it
today, the cast appears so great that you would think it was something
special, but this supporting cast, great as it is, worked together
often. What this has in common with the WIZARD is a great script.
The writers of CASABLANCA came up with a script that tops all other films in classic moments of quotes that have become a part of Americana. So many quotes from this film are used in other films & media that they have become cliché almost. Even miss-quotes like "Play It Again, Sam" from this film have become American folk-lore. "Round up the Usual Suspects" has become it's own film later. "You & Me, Kid"- the list goes on & on.Other than the Great Oz, these quotes just flow from this film to 100's of other works since this film was made.
What makes this film really special is the unfulfilled love between Bogart & Bergman's character that is left hanging at the end. In an era, where love always had to have a happy ending, this movie gloriously leaves us with people in love who are forced away from each other by circumstances beyond either of their control.
This theme is closer to real life than most Hollywood products of any era. Almost everybody can identify with it because haven't we all had a love in our life who we yearned for very much, but due to circumstances beyond us, we never had a chance to fulfill? That is too me what makes this film stand above all others.
This is a film that has action, but not much of it. This film has comedy, but only enough to make the film great. It has subtle patriotic themes that carry the film along. Most importantly, this film has the heart of every viewer who ever watches it because the film, by accident, touches themes that many films aspire to reach, but never achieve.
Ironically, this all happened by the greatest of chance & rarely has any movie ever come close to what this film is. If I were a filmmaker, actor, or had a career in this industry, this would be the film I wish I had worked on. Nothing gets better than this one.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
SPOILERS Possibly contained
Ok, Casablanca can simply be described in six words "The Greatest Movie Of All Time".
In this film we get to witness Bogart & Bergman in their best performances, in one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) love stories of all time. The way the romance develops, disintegrates, develops again & finishes on a sad note, is one of the best film plots of all time. The acting is superb, the plot is majestic, the film may be in black and white (an idea which is often sadly dated in modern society, but not in this case) but it survives & by the end of this film, possibly the most famous movie scene of all time is shown, climaxing in what can be argued as the greatest line of all time.
I guess the problem with writing reviews is that it's often easy to write vast ammounts about a film you hate, but when it comes to a film you love, you embrace it to such a degree that it's almost impossible to think of anything fresh and original to write.
so, with that last statement in mind, let me say this. If you have never seen Casablanca, you must be mad. If you have seen Casablanca and dislike it, you must be even madder. This film is genius, pure, classical genius.
What could have been another piece of dreary American propaganda for
WWII, turned out- by a strange piece of magic- to be a cinematic
masterpiece, and ultimately a legend. Was it the director, Michael
Curtiz? Was it the black and White photography, was it Dooley Wilson's
haunting voice. Was it the superb casting? Who knows? but to think of
anyone else playing the roles would have been insanity. Another Sydney
Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Conrad Veidt, Bogart or Bergman. Impossible.
About four years ago I was travelling around south-east Asia and in Phnom Penh (in Cambodia) and one night I went to the Foreign Correspondants club. It was my birthday and I was on my own so I stayed for a few drinks. I then found out that the club was showing THE ORIGINAL Casablanca. The benches the audience sat on were wooden. There were geckos running around the ceiling, no air conditioning, and it was heaven. The visa pronounced vezay, the gloved hand holding the 'aeroplane' Sydney Greenstreet swatting flies. Wonderful.
I'd have to say my favorite scene is the one in which Paul Henreid
leads the singing in Rick's. As one writer put it, "One by one, the
habitués of the bar join in the "Marseillaise." The Germans sing still
louder, but they're no match for the pro-French civilians. Drowned out,
the soldiers give up in disgust. The "Marseillaise" comes to its
stirring conclusion, and with tears in their eyes the patriots in the
bar cry out, "Vive la France!"
This scene always brings tears to my eyes which illustrates, among other things, the power of music in movies.
What is your favorite scene in 'Casablanca'?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie can compete with the most famous and timeless love stories
in history, like Romeo & Julia, the beauty and the beast, Julia Roberts
and Richard Geere.
Always remember while you watch it: 1942. Not such a nice time for the world! Not such a nice time for romance. Not such a nice time to stand up against something. It must have been quite an effort to shoot this film during such harsh times. I mean, it's quite a political movie and the scene with the Marseillaise must have been a punch in the face of every fascist.
But all the political quarrels are combined with an amazing love story that hasn't lost a single ounce of its attraction or beauty throughout the years.
But what really made a classic out of the picture is, in my opinion, Humphrey Bogart. I consider him the man of the millennium, a guy with so much masculine attitude and yet so much feeling. It's just an eye-catching experience to see him walk and talk and, most impressive, drink. Any other actor drinks quite ordinary. It's not a big deal to empty a glass of booze. But when Bogie does it, you can feel his pain. You can feel his grief and his anger. You can feel the person behind the scene. If you ask me for the man I respect the most in movie history, it has to be Humphrey Bogart.
Sure, the rest of the cast does a great job as well, Ignrid Bergmann is responsible for half of the chemistry between Rick and Ilsa but well, I can only see them in the shadow of Bogie.
This is one of those movies, you hear so much talking about and you begin to ask what's so great about a dusty old flick, but after you've watched it, you realize what everybody was talking about. At least, that's how I did.
A truly timeless tale about romance with the perfect cast and probably the most memorable quotes in history. Terrific!
"Here's looking at you, kid."
"This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
"I don't stick my neck out for nobody."
"Round up the usual suspects."
"I'm shocked, SHOCKED, to find that gambling is going on in here!"
"Did you abscond with the church funds?"
"We'll always have Paris."
These are just some of the lines from this movie which have made their way into our lexicon. Of course, I did save the most famous one for last: "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine."
Welcome to "Casablanca", regarded as one of the most popular movies of all time. I know, I know, everybody says that, but it's true. When people criticize movies today, Casablanca is usually one of the "go-to" films they turn to when they say "They don't make 'em like they used to."
And, they would be correct.
Ask any woman to name her top-five most romantic movies, and "Casablanca" will likely show up on her list. And when it comes to movie romances, men's eyes usually glaze over at the mere mention of them. Well, I am here to tell you there is plenty to keep a man's attention in this film and, in the end, he may actually walk away in a non-catatonic state.
First, you have Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine, owner and proprietor of Rick's Café Americain in the city of Casablanca. An expatriated American, Rick is a cynic whose establishment is just this side of illegal, yet he manages to stay in business and make a good living at it. And besides, it's Bogey!
Then there's Claude Rains as the local chief of police, Louis Renault. Captain Renault is slippery as an eel, especially when it comes to dealing with those in authority above him. He's also inquisitive, intelligent, and hypocritical.
Up next are the Nazis. Morocco was French territory in 1941, and the Germans occupied France during that time. Here, they are presented as ambitious warmongers bent on world domination (and that would be correct). With the Nazis around, there is an inbred conflict from the get-go, as Casablanca is portrayed as a hub for the French Resistance during World War II. I should also point out that this is the earliest American film I know of that not only uses the term "concentration camp" by name, but it also suggests that people have died within them.
Throw in a murder or two, and you have the makings of a good film-noir. Okay, so "film-noir" officially sprang up after World War II, but it still feels like one. The camera angles, shot composition, lighting, use of shadow, a brooding leading man (Bogart), and a tormented femme fatale (Ingrid Bergman) all add up toward the formula.
All of this is capped off with sardonic wit and tight drama, signs of a well-written script (which, interestingly enough, was cobbled together right up to the very end of filming). Also, the timing of this movie is what made it such a hit. It ranks right up there with "On the Waterfront" (1954), "The China Syndrome" (1979), "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" (1967), "In the Heat of the Night" (1967), and "The Deer Hunter" (1978) in terms of topicality within the society of the day.
So, you men out there, when your woman suggests watching "Casablanca", throw some popcorn in the microwave. Trust me, you'll be able to sit through this one!
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