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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Some films are greater than the sum of their parts. According to
Hollywood lore, no one who was involved in the making of CASABLANCA,
one of the most iconic of American films, had the slightest idea that
they were making anything more than a run-of-the-mill programmer. True,
it was an A-list programmer, with A-list stars, an A-list director, and
the kind of ensemble of well-known and beloved character actors filling
out the supporting cast that Warner Bros fans had come to love and
Yet despite all this, for most of the personnel involved it was business as usual; Ingrid Bergman remarked in her autobiography that the script was being written as they went along, and it was not until late in the shooting schedule that she finally knew who she would end up with, which she claimed made it confusing because she did not know from one day to another who she was supposed to be in love with.
Seventy years later, it seems remarkable to think that the people making this stunning film didn't realize what they had. For the finished product is one of those films that approaches perfection in the same way GONE WITH THE WIND and CITIZEN KANE did.
By now, I think everyone knows the bare bones of the story, which revolves around Rick's Café Américain, a nightclub and (illicit) casino in unoccupied French Morocco run by Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) and involves the efforts of people trying to get exit visas to go to Lisbon, and on to the United States.
Casablanca is still unoccupied, but that does not mean the Nazis are not milling around, most notably one Major Heinrich Strasser (Conrad Veidt in his final film). And they are most interested in one recent arrival: resistance fighter Victor Laszlo, an escapee from a concentration camp hoping to get out of Casablanca one step ahead of the Nazis. Traveling with him is Miss Ilsa Lund (Bergman), whom we later discover is Laszlo's wife and who was briefly Rick's lover in Paris when she thought her husband was dead.
I don't really need to describe it any more. This is one of those films that is simply a joy to watch no matter how many times one sees it: it is beautifully shot in crisp black-and white, Michael Curtiz's direction is, as always, impeccable, and the only way to describe the cast is "heaven sent;" everyone fits their roles so perfectly that the movie soars like the airplane to Lisbon that represents escape from terror and freedom in the New World.
Bogart and Henreid have seldom been better; Bogart did not often get to show his softer side, but when he did, he showed what a great actor he really was. Henreid plays a man who is a legend throughout Europe, but he makes him completely human. And Bergman is sublime as always; her performance turned out to be pitch-perfect, and I can't decide between this film and NOTORIOUS, but she has seldom been more beautiful than she is here.
Surprisingly, this film does not seem to date. It is as fresh to me today as it was when I first saw it on the Late Show about forty years ago. I guess the greatest works of art are truly eternal.
This film is a monumental piece of film history. I can honestly it
might just be one of the best movies of all time. If anything, you have
to acknowledge the writing. Almost every single line of dialogue in the
film is a household terminology to this day, most people paying tribute
to the film without even knowing it. That's why I wanted to use a less
popular quote for the title, and it has its own meanings within the
film. Another joy of the film is composer Max Steiner; yes, Max Steiner
of 1933's "King Kong". His music is timeless, and he captures the
mystery and romance of the film perfectly.
It's definitely a love story at a glance, one of the best ever told if not so, but I view it more as a story of sacrifice, on the part of both lovers. The film is also a piece of history, taking place during the Second World War It entails a time when the Third Reich's immense shadow was cast over all of Europe, and the film portrays this quite nicely. However the film is about more than Charlie Chaplin poking fun at the Nazi Party (gotta love Chaplin). There is quite a bit of nicely done comedy within the weaving of it all, but it's balanced just right.
I'm not sure if it qualifies as a film noir exactly, but Rick (Humphrey Bogart) is cynical enough to fit the bill and the use of shadows is quite extraordinary. The setting and lighting during the best scenes of the movie are darkened rooms, making it all the more intense. As I said before, Rick, with his sarcasm and pessimism, is one of my favorite characters of all time. To me the movie is about him most of all. He sees the events taking place before him, knows he must act, but for a while chooses not to. The beauty of it all is that we know why and we feel for him.
All the performances are incredible. Like all golden era Hollywood flicks of the 50s, it draws our attention without the use of bloodshed and sexuality. Although don't be mistaken, it is indeed used here and very subtly I add. Its takes a film lover's eyes and ears to catch it, and the story telling is just marvelous.
One cannot be a true fan of cinema without having seen "Casablanca".
While my personal Bogey favorite is still his Sam Spade in 'The Maltese
Falcon', his cynical nightclub owner, Rick, in 'Casablanca', is also a
standout. Rather than some "off the cuff" comments, I'll quote instead
from my article on Claude Rains (from March 2000 issue of CLASSIC
IMAGES) that pretty well sums up the film: "It was 1943's 'Casablanca',
bustling with melodramatic wartime intrigue, that really put him
(Claude Rains) in the forefront as one of the screen's smoothest
character actors, almost--but not quite--stealing the film from
Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, as the uniformed Captain Louis
Renault who investigates the goings-on at Rick's notorious cafe.
Nobody associated with the film guessed that it would become a screen classic, least of all its director, Michael Curtiz, the prolific WB director to whom it was just another assignment. It went on to win the Oscar for Best Film of 1943 with an award for Curtiz' taut direction.
Oddly enough, the film's memorable airport ending was written and conceived just shortly before filming wrapped up, with neither Bergman nor Bogart knowing whether or not she would leave him for husband Paul Henried. Wartime audiences loved the film. Sydney Greenstreet, Conrad Veidt, Victor Francen and Peter Lorre all gave sterling performances and Rains was again nominated for Best Supporting actor." And by the way, I disagree with a former comment indicating the black and white photography of this film was primitive as compared to today's. Incredible nonsense!! As a matter of fact, the film's black and white cinematography was nominated for an Oscar! Ingrid Bergman was at the peak of her radiant beauty in this one--and Bogey was firing on all six cylinders. Great chemistry! As time goes by, we still have 'Casablanca'...
This is the greatest romance film ever. Most of today's are just stupid and cheesy this one is the greatest and always will be. It was originally going to be a play called Everybody Come's to Rick's but the play was never made this film was instead. It is directed by Michael Curtiz(The Adventures of Robin Hood,Mildred Pierce,White Christmas) and stars Humphry Bogart(The Maltese Falcon,The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,The African Queen) Ingrid Bergman(Spellbound,Notorious,Autumn Sonata) and Paul Henreid(Alfred Hitchcock Presents,A Woman's Devotion,Dead Ringer). The acting is great especially from Bogart. And hopefully 100 years from now this film is still considered a classic.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One of the most beloved American films, this captivating wartime
adventure of romance and intrigue from director Michael Curtiz defies
standard categorization. Simply put, it is the story of Rick Blaine, a
world-weary ex-freedom fighter who runs a nightclub in Casablanca
during the early part of World War II.Casablanca is a romantic drama
film directed by Curtiz that features Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman
and Paul Henreid, and featuring Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney
Greenstreet, Peter Lorre and Dooley Wilson.
Set during Second World War, it focuses on a man torn between, in the words of one character, love and virtue. He must choose between his love for a woman and helping her and her Czech Resistance leader husband escape from the Vichy-controlled Moroccan city of Casablanca to continue his fight against the Nazis.Despite pressure from the local authorities, notably the crafty Capt. Renault, Rick's cafe has become a haven for refugees looking to purchase illicit letters of transit which will allow them to escape to America. One day, to Rick's great surprise, he is approached by the famed rebel Victor Laszlo and his wife, Ilsa, Rick's true love who deserted him when the Nazis invaded Paris. She still wants Victor to escape to America, but now that she's renewed her love for Rick, she wants to stay behind in Casablanca. "You must do the thinking for both of us," she says to Rick. He does, and his plan brings the story to its satisfyingly logical, if not entirely happy, conclusion.
Despite a changing assortment of screenwriters frantically adapting an unstaged play and barely keeping ahead of production, and Bogart attempting his first romantic lead role, Casablanca won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Its characters, dialogue, and music have become iconic, and the film has grown in popularity to the point that it now consistently ranks near the top of lists of the greatest films of all time.An undisputed masterpiece and perhaps Hollywood's quintessential statement on love and romance, it has only improved with age, boasting career-defining performances from Bogart and Bergman. It has a peculiar magic to it, and it's in the richness of its details that mostly go unnoticed because of the film's pace.Despite of being released in 1942,the appeal of Casablanca shows no sign of diminishing as time goes by.
This is a film I've seen many times before but this is the first time
I've actually sat down and 'watched' it. I must say I was surprised at
just how good it was. Before, there had always been distractions, but
today I watched it right through and I must say I was very impressed.
It's the kind of film my parents would watch and so it never featured
very high on my radar. But when I got into watching films more
seriously this was always one of those that had a lot of critical
acclaim and so I added it to 'The List'. It finally lands on TV and I
had a chance to see it tonight
Truly excellent! I will explain what I
mean by that after this very brief summary.
At the beginning of World War II many people tried to get out of Europe and one of the preferred routes was via Casablanca to Lisbon and then on to America. Consequently there were many refugees stranded in Casablanca falling prey to corrupt officials and other less savoury characters. Bar owner Rick Blaine wants nothing to do with all this business, in fact he doesn't even like people talking politics in his place. But when certain travel documents fall into his possession he finds it hard to remain neutral. Particularly when an ex-lover, Ilsa Lund, appears on the scene with her husband Victor Laszlo. Throw in a corrupt, but charismatic, French Police official, Captain Louis Renault, a German, Major Heinrich Strasser who is bent on arresting Victor Laszlo and, of course, Rick's piano player, Sam, and you've got the makings of a really great film. I won't say any more or the Spoiler Police (Classics Division) will have me in a concentration camp (again).
You would have thought a film made in black and white and shot in a 4:3 aspect ratio would be really hard to watch. I'm here to tell you it's one of the easiest films to watch I've seen it quite a while. All the action is concentrated in the middle of the screen; every shot is set up that way. I guess it helps that it is based on a stage play in that respect. Performance wise, well I cannot fault anyone, but I must give special praise to both Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine and Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa Lund, both were truly excellent! Honourable mentions must also go to; Paul Henreid as Victor Laszlo, Claude Rains as Captain Louis Renault, Conrad Veidt as Major Heinrich Strasser, Sydney Greenstreet as Signor Ferrari and Peter Lorre as Ugarte.
I'm not usually all the big on love stories but in this case I will make an exception. I think it's the quality of the performances that really makes this work as well as it does. There is a lot of political intrigue in there too. If you remember that at the time it was being made America had not joined the war in Europe and so what it says politically is pretty important too. But getting away from the politics of the thing, I found this film totally engaging all the way through with characters you could believe in and a great script. I said it at the beginning and I'll say it again Truly excellent and VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
My score: 9.7/10.
IMDb Score: 8.7/10 (based on 204,219 votes at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes 'Tomatometer' Score: 97/100 (based on 59 reviews counted at the time of going to press). Rotten Tomatoes 'Audience' Score: 94/100 (based on 319,465 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
Claimed as one of the greatest romances of all time, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman star in "Casablanca", a romance set in Nazi-occupied Africa, about the affection and heartbreak of love. The movie starts with Rick Blaine, portrayed brilliantly by Bogart, who owns a night club called "Rick's Cafe American", during December 1941 in the city of Casablanca. Set years after a devastating separation between he and a long-lost loved one, that particular woman, portrayed beautifully by Ingrid Bergman, who shined on screen, returns with a new husband who is on the run for the law, but she also faces serious love connections with a heartbroken Rick. Beautifully directed by Michael Curtiz, and written brilliantly by three or four separate screenwriters, "Casablanca" is one of the greatest movies ever made. This movie has more relative humor, strong heart, and memorable characters than the technological success of "Citizen Kane". These characters like Rick, Ilsa, Victor, Cpt. Louis, and Sam, are still memorable and lovable to this day. Also, there are so many memorable lines that can be spoken a thousand times, like my two favorites: "Here's looking at you, kid!" and "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship", both quoted beautifully by Humphrey Bogart. "Casablanca" is a more beautiful and enjoying motion picture, and it is one of the many masterpieces for all cinema lovers. "Casablanca", in my review, "the most beautiful and romantic masterpiece of all time".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Classics Tour: Part 1 "Casablanca"
I thought I was a movie geek but then realised I had not seen hardly anything pre 1960 - I'm about to change that. First stop Casablanca.
What first struck me about Casablanca was the script, sharp and witty at times and include more classic lines that you could erm... well lots of classic lines.
Yes many lines from this film have been said time and time again and are part of our culture now. The final lines Bogie utters to the lovely Ingrid Bergman before she leaves I had heard before and I hadn't seen the film!
Next Humphrey Bogart. He's a really cool guy and his performance in this movie is pitch perfect I aim to watch some more of this mans movies.
Casablanca surprised me I must admit. The ending is brave indeed and contributes to its legendary status of that I have no doubt. Any ending where the lead doesn't get the girl, where the love rival is as brave if not braver just adds layers to an already great story with such a crackling script.
Its hard to recommend this film as many sadly would not get over its age. To be fair it has taken me a while to get round to appreciating old films but there is a whole gold mine out there and I can't wait to get stuck in.
I am delighted to admit for me personally Casablanca lived up to its reputation.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Growing up, I'd heard a lot about this movie, but I've never actually seen it. Now that I have, I understand why Casablanca is so well liked. It has a strong, suspenseful plot, excellent acting, an exotic setting, great dialogue, and many humorous moments. Maybe it's best thought of as a drama/romance. It tells the story of two former lovers, America expatriate, and bar owner, Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) and Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman), who meet again and find themselves in a love triangle with the woman's husband, Victor Laszlo, leader of the Czech underground. It's set in the city of Casablanca in unoccupied North Africa during WWII. While the war actually hasn't reached Casablanca, the city is full of Nazi soldiers, who create a constant sense of menace and dread. They're after Laszlo, and he and Ilsa need to escape. In order to do that, they need transit papers. Rick has the papers and needs to decide what to do with them. The story is filled with moments of edge of the seat suspense as we wonder if Laszlo and Ilsa will escape or become victims of the Nazi's. We also wonder if Ilsa will stay with Rick or choose her husband. The acting is excellent. Bogart's Rick is a complex man with a past. A former freedom fighter himself, he's become a jaded man who claims not to care about anyone but himself. Bergman's Ilsa is obviously torn between Rick and her husband. The viewer is faced with asking if Rick will do the right thing and who Ilsa will choose. The movie is made even better by the frequently humorous moments, many offered by Captain Renault (Claude Rains), who does an excellent job as the cynical and corrupt head of the local police. From beginning to end, I found this film to be totally enjoyable.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A few movies managed to achieve such a legendary status. Think about
it, all you have to do is to hum the first notes of 'As Time Goes By'
ta-da ta-da ta-daaa
and a whole universe resurrects in your memories,
forever incarnated by these two profiles staring at each other,
Humphrey Bogart in the iconic trench-coat of his career-defining role,
and Ingrid Bergman, as gracious as ever.
One word : "Casablanca", and a gallery of characters revives, Sam, the piano player, these unforgettable second-billed actors who graced the silver screen in these black and white days, Conrad Veidt, Sidney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, an international cast and so many immortal scenes, Rick Blaine's bourbon-driven melancholy while remembering the good old days with Ilsa, the patriotic fervor expressed during the singing of La Marseillaise and probably the most emotional farewell scene ever, followed by "the beginning of a beautiful friendship" as the ending of a beautiful movie. Of course, the list would be incomplete without the mention of Michael Curtiz' masterful direction, the dazzling shadowy cinematography and the Esptein twins' perfect script that lurched the film into Pop-Culture : "Here's looking at you, kid", "We'll always have Paris" and so many unforgettable lines that became catchphrases on their own. But still, everything would all have been secondary if it wasn't for THE element that made "Casablanca" such a legendary film : it's a beautiful romance.
60 years later, the movie still divides, should have Ilsa gone with Rick or Laszlo? The consensus is that she did the right choice, but there's no doubt that the truer love was Rick. The film perfectly captured the dilemma of a real triangular love as Ilsa's husband, Viktor Lazslo is fundamentally a good man, a heroic resistant fighter who escaped from a concentration camp, and the only man who inspired Rick Blaine a bit of admiration. As an ex-freedom fighter, Rick sure understands the value of courage and visibly, something from the past has metamorphosed his idealistic nature into the cynical and detached mask of a lone wolf figure. Who else than Humphrey Bogart could have played this role with such intensity? Intense but still profoundly romantic as the wound in Rick's heart opens when Lazslo comes back with Ilsa, Rick's former love, back then in Paris.
The international atmosphere of the Rick's Café nightclub gives it a unique and absolutely endearing flavor spiced up that pivotal night, when Ilsa asks Sam to play 'As Time Goes By', we understand that this song has a poignant significance, as the last one she and Rick heard as lovers, before the War came and ruined everything. Ilsa ran out of Rick who, like most of the refugees, escaped from the German invasion leaving Paris to Marseilles, then Marseilles to Oran, and from Oran to Casablanca, in French Morocco, freed from the German control, to get visas to the neutral Portugal, the only way to America. Rick exiled himself in Casablanca, as if something was unconsciously keeping him within the War, and when he delivers the legendary : "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine" is he really lamenting? When Ilsa re-enters his life, his office, Rick's bitterness made him say the wrong words, but then he painfully realizes he still loves her, and that Lazlso took her from him.
Lazslo and Ilsa need two 'letters of transit' to go to Lisbon, and by an ironic coincidence, Rick got those two tickets from a suave criminal named Ugarte who got them by murdering two German couriers. With the death of Ugarte, the two tickets for freedom were in Rick's hand and a great moral dilemma in his heart : contributing to the War effort and lose the love or his life, or following his motto : "I stick my neck out for nobody". Rick's true nature can't fool anyone, but the romance gains in complexity when Ilsa revealing to Rick why she left him, reconciles with him and realizes she loves him more than ever and can't leave him again. The romance is in a dead-end, and compromised by the antagonistic presence of the Major Heinrich Strasser who can't allow Lazzlo to escape. Strasser counts on the collaboration of Vichy's government, incarnated by Captain Renault, another character we still don't know where his heart belongs to, as he said : "This is my least vulnerable spot"
Ultimately, and I guess this is what makes the movie so inspiring, as said Roger Ebert in his brilliant commentary, all the characters aren't bad people. Even the ambiguity of Captain Renault is a nice writing touch that allows to keep uncertain the role he's going to play, although the roulette episode proved his good heart. Even Greenstreet as the head of the criminal underworld and Rick's business rival accepts to buy him out and keep all the employees, even Yvonne, the French girl who dated a Nazi officer couldn't hide her tears when the Marseillaise was sung. Finally, the heroic nature of Rick Blaine prevailed as he decided to take care of everything, fooling Ilsa, Lazzslo, and Renault, but ultimately getting them in the plane. Renault also redeemed himself by the "Round up the usual suspects" to clear Rick of shooting Major Strasser before he could order to cancel the flight.
Rick, #4 hero in the American Film Institute, explains his decision to Ilsa : "I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world". He's twice wrong. First, Rick is excellent at being noble. Secondly, now that WW2 is over but not "Casablanca"'s legendary status, whether you love old, classic, black and white films or not, you should ask yourself if the problems of three little problems aren't finally the essence of the most beautiful acts that humanity could inspire.
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