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Casablanca is the sort of film that suffers from its reputation. People walk into it expecting to see the greatest film of all time and are disappointed when it doesn't measure up to their own pet faves. But if it doesn't have the depth of some masterpieces, it is certainly among the most entertaining, with a brilliantly witty script, a superb cast and one of the most stirring scenes in all cinema, the so-called Battle Of The Anthems when Laszlo incites Rick's patrons in a recital of La Marseillaise. It also broke social ground, with Sam the pianist (Dooley Wilson) being one of the first black roles to be treated as (almost) an equal. Most of all, it's a film you can watch again and again. If you haven't yet, give it a try; it could be the start of a beautiful friendship.
"Casablanca" is unquestionably one of the two greatest American films.
Everything about it (except possibly the special effects) is either
perfect or so close it doesn't even matter. I'm writing this having
just gone to see it with my sweetie at a packed-house Valentine's Day
showing in a restored classic movie palace. If you ever have the chance
to see a beautiful print of this film on a really big screen in such a
venue, with an audience totally in love with it, DO NOT DO NOT DO NOT
pass up the opportunity! When people used to refer to the "silver
screen," it's this movie and a few others that they were talking
about--it literally shimmers like finely wrought silver.
Oh yes, the other greatest American film? "Citizen Kane," and for many of the same reasons. Interesting that these two films were made almost at the same time, "CK" being released in 1941 and "Casablanca" in 1942.
Out of all the films that are considered classic milestones in cinema how many fully deserve that status?? Not that many, let me tell you but Casablanca absolutely does! Casablanca has become history itself, a legendary production that'll live on forever. And it should! This film is essential viewing for everyone who ever showed interest in cinema. Every sequence in Casablanca is brilliant, every character is intriguing and every setting is breath taking. Especially when you're watching it for the first time you'll be surprised how much you actually know about it already. Multiple ideas, lines and sequences were so influential and important to cinema, that they have been used numberless times afterwards. You might even say that cinema would have looked completely different if it wasn't for Casablanca. It's a brilliant love-story with irresistible film-noir and comedy aspects. The entire script - line by line - is pure nostalgic and some of the dialogues originally shown here grew out to become pure historical art. This intelligent movie also depends a lot on its superb cast, of course. Bogart portrays a terrific character here a performance that yet has to find its equal. His brute and heartless portrayal of Rick is fascinating, especially because you soon find out that he is in fact just a hurt romanticist, heart-broken by a girl who's about to show up again. This girl (the stunning Ingrid Bergman) is practically the most marvelous lady who ever appeared on the big screen. Thanks to her natural charm and beauty, Bergman makes the most out of Ilsa. Film-noir stars Claude Rains and Peter Lorre supply the film with terrific supporting characters and a right amount of humor and parody. It's amazing how this film combines so many different genres successfully. The cruelty and drama of the war and the rise of the 'Third Empire' is mixed with comedy and romance in a unique way. It cannot be denied Casablanca is pure perfection and everyone should appreciate it. This film isn't to be missed by anyone, whether you're young, middle-aged or retired this film will move you.
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
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.
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.
Casablanca (1942), pretty close to perfection. A movie that brings out the best script from both heart n brain, a tough combination. Does a perfect job in blending the political scenario of that time (World War 2) and the ever pervasive love matters. Just 102 minutes movie but each second is entertaining. The clever-stylish dialogues keep it alive throughout. The chemistry between Bogart and Bergman from their very 1st shot together, looks very natural. I wonder why they don't make such well developed movies today. Before watching the movie I did some other viewer comments saying it is all so boring but one thing they might be missing is that these were the movies from which directors used stuff again and again and that is why they look boring to us. But I guess we should at least respect them for this. A keeper, 10/10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Casablanca is still the greatest movie of all time! Its stars shine,
there are memorable lines, quite a few which have been repeated
elsewhere or even become the titles of movies themselves, there is
superbly artistic and notable cinematography, heartfelt romance,
inspiring and touching music, heroes, swelling feelings of sentiment
and patriotism, and it is in no way too long, too weird or different.
Just an all around great movie, and even for the few of those who can't
agree that Casablanca is the all-around greatest movie of all time,
they perhaps would at least agree that it has all the elements and
plenty enough of what it takes to be putting up an honorable fight to
claim that top spot, and most definitely should be on any critic's
short list of greatest movies, if they expect to really be taken
Time seems to date some movies badly, while it has worked greatly in favor of some movies, like Casablanca. It was made in the day when color was rare, yet, used black in white so well that it seems to be a great example of a movie that should have been filmed in black and white, even if doing such were to have cost more than color. The false looking backgrounds in its Paris automobile scenes in particular, although perhaps not so intended, has actually been used as a purposeful technique of dreamy recollection and such, in a few more modern day films. And again, even though perhaps not intended at the time, and even though the entire movie was made in studio, the fact that the Paris scenes are the ones that look so particularly fake is appropriate, since, at that very time, those scenes had to be fake, as Paris wasn't available, because it was under German occupation. There is no understating that this movie was a part of the arsenal of democracy itself, its story, themes and passion are set in the very center of what was then the raging battle for the world in what would become the single most defining event of the 20th Century, World War II. Every actor in the film, the director, the producer, and anybody and everybody working on the film or in any way involved with its making, were, in fact, at war with Nazi Germany.
There is no need for a learned critic or professor to explain this or anything about the movie, anything about its producers having used some new technique, some new technology, or any particularly notable new style of cinematography to just enjoy Casablanca. It's very touching in its story of human relationships and it is so noted for its black and white cinematography that some of its most ardent fans consider any colorizations of it sacrilege, even among those of us not generally opposed to the idea of colorization. And, it is the story of its times. Its depiction of challenged French patriotism brings tears the eyes of many a repeat viewer time and time again, when The Marseilles is sung. There are lines that people repeat, songs that even today people sing and whistle. In terms of just all around sheer entertainment, the movie is petty much as good as it gets. It is not only difficult to come up with a suggestion of what movies of the 20th century could be considered as good, it's impossible to find any movie that has anywhere near as many people thinking of it as the greatest movie of the 20th century. It's as if a clear majority think it the greatest movie of all time, and as for what other movie is even a contender to Casablanca's claim to the title, well, there is no clear single contender. I doubt fans of Casablanca could even form a majority as to what the second greatest movie of all time is. Even if all those who have another movie in mind could have a run-off to determine their party's candidate, it wouldn't matter, as Casablanca already has 65% of the general electorate locked-up. Although all-time is far from over, it's safe to say that Casablanca is now the for-all-time greatest movie of the 20th Century. Its as if Indiana Jones was involved in some battle, in the middle of some war, that we were actually passionately involved in at the time, with our entire economy geared towards the goal of winning that war, against actual Nazis soldiers, rather than the theatrical Nazi-ish soldiers that Indiana Jones was having problems with. Except Casablanca's actors are legendary movie icons. The dialogue is superior. The musical score is among the best of movies, as memorable as even the best of musicals, only Casablanca isn't a musical. Just as the main song of the movie is about a fight for love and glory, exactly what the entire free western and allied world was engaged in at that time, so the viewer feels where they stand in their heart of hearts. The viewer relates to the characters, and anybody familiar with history who believes in freedom and democracy isn't just cheering for our characters in the end, we truly feel as if we are on their side! Had the allied battle been lost, Casablanca may very well have quickly become a controlled, discarded and forgotten piece of illicit war propaganda. But as things turned out, it's Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, along with Dooley Wilson, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains and many others, starring in the greatest roles of their careers in what clearly still seems to be the greatest movie of all time. Casablanca's being part of the patriotic effort itself, is perhaps one of its greatest advantages in cementing its claim as the greatest movie of all time, and this is a concrete advantage that will only continue to strengthen and harden, "As Time Goes By."
This was yet another classic film to which I've been a "Johnny-come-lately." Still, I can see why it has attained its status as one of the Hollywood greats. Put simply, it deals with timeless themes in a matter-of-fact way, enhanced by the excellent performances, flawless and elegant cinematography and an emotionally stirring soundtrack and score. There's not a single minute wasted, and its impossible not to get caught up in the story of love, longing and triumph over adversity. Any self-respecting film lover owes it to themselves to see this, and preferably more than once. At least now I can check it off my cinematic bucket list.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Michael Curtiz's masterpiece, Casablanca, is easily one of my favorite movies of all time. The plot brilliantly demonstrates self sacrifice and ever- lasting love in a way that is untraditional and completely original. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman have amazing chemistry that really brings the story to life. The lighting is perfect and natural, despite being filmed in a studio, the dialog has a good rhythm, and the composition was spot on. The image appeared to be very crisp and clear with no imperfections. The sets and prop designs were beautiful with a truly authentic Moroccan style. The flashbacks were very well shot and utilized effectively, there were a few comparison shots that were well thought out. Overall Casablanca is a movie far beyond its time that will be forever loved and respected.
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