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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
You cannot talk about all-time greatest movies without having
"Casablanca" somewhere in the top 10. At least, until enough time goes
by that the fundamental things don't apply! (Sorry.) In all
seriousness, it pains me to think that there may come a time when this
movie, shot in black-and-white and with nary a special effect and with
all the limitations of the technology of its time (1942), will seem so
primitive and unnatural that instead of being a classic, it will be
considered a curiosity. That will be a very sad time indeed.
Bogie and Bergman are immortal, not just because of this film, but I cannot imagine a time when people who see "Casablanca" will fail to be affected by their story in the film. Bergman is indelibly and incredibly beautiful, completely believable as the woman caught between two men that she loves equally in very different ways. Bogie is the man that women want to be with, the man that men want to be: smart, suave, completely cool, admired and respected by everyone and feared by those who have a reason to fear him. And in this place called "Casablanca," with the world crashing into war around them, they play out a story that's both intensely personal and yet universal.
The mythology that's sprung up about this movie is a story unto itself, and maybe some day someone will write a movie about that. Suffice it to say that the way the pieces came together, you have to believe that this was as movie that was meant to be.
"Casablanca" was made back in the days when movies and live plays were pretty much the "only games in town" when it came to entertainment (other than sports), and since every small town had a movie theater but only big cities had live plays, EVERYONE went to the movies. I don't think young people who have so many options for entertainment now can quite understand what a big deal a movie like this was, and how beloved and what a stir it created. I hope that because so much of the dialogue in the movie is so well-known, maybe they'll get a feel for just how large this movie looms in American culture.
I love it. It was on TCM yesterday, and I watched it for what must be the twentieth time, and I still love it and can watch it without getting tired of it. Bogie and Bergman, forever luminous and forever saying good-bye there at the airport in a place called Casablanca. It never gets old and I never get tired of it.
IMDb Top 250: 17
Well, after sitting on my shelf for years, I finally watched Casablanca. As a young movie viewer, I have little experience with black-and-white films, so I was a little unprepared for what would happen next.
Casablanca is a Rom-dram set in Africa during World War II. It was also made during World War II, during a period of heavy fighting. Nowadays, it's like a time capsule from the most violent period in modern history. But enough with the history, and on with the film.
The first half hour was very faced paced, plot wise. Lots happened quickly, demanding your full attention. A viewer has to pay very close attention to figure out what's happening. However, it does slow down into a more gently paced movie. I'm not sure if that happens with all old movies, but very rarely nowadays will so much happen at the beginning of a film.
The acting is great. Rick's presence on screen is felt by all, Humphrey Bogart did an unrepeatable job as the stern yet sentimental hero. Everyone else plays their roles well, but it was hard for me to really tell what is and isn't good because acting has changed over the years. It seems that old movies have very dialogue-based acting, whereas new movies have action-based acting.
Speaking of dialogue, it becomes very apparent that Casablanca's is special. There's a reason it has the most number of famous lines on AFI's 100 lines list. But that's all I can say about that.
Lastly, the plot. *No spoilers* After the first 25 minutes, the plot becomes coherent and the story is very enjoyable. The pacing is very good, so the film never drags. The ending is very nice, and the buildup to it has several twists, some you will see coming, others you won't.
Ultimately, Casablanca is a classic film any cinema aficionado should see. 8.8/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Casablanca is a romantic drama in a World War II setting that contains aspects that ultimately make it one of the greatest films ever made. The effective use of the drama and the development of each character makes the film a stunning example of how a movie should be made. The most impressive visual aspect (of which this review is mostly centered) is the lighting work found in the movie. The lighting ultimately sets the tone and mood for the film in a variety of scenes and is sometimes used just to impress the viewer. Early in the film a spotlight pans over our lead character, Rick, which helps expand upon the setting of a Nazi occupied and policed territory. There is also the scene in which we view Rick's shadow tinkering with and removing money from his safe. This allows us to feel imposed by Rick's presence and feel as if we are intruding upon his time. Mood is set extremely well with lighting in the scenes where Rick is drinking and remembering his past with Ilsa. The past seems bright and positive while the current seems much darker and the feeling of remorse and regret is played effectively while Rick is at the bar. Perhaps the best example of lighting enhancing a scene's mood and tone is when Ilsa appears in the café at night and the entire room lights up with her appearance, as if it was being produced by her. These uses of lighting enhance the film incredibly and engross the audience entirely. Light work aside "Casablanca" is an incredible film that more modern films should take notes from. It is without a doubt one of the best films ever made and no amount of praise can properly justify the unbelievable quality of the film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Casablanca oozes pure class and style. Its a film that is easy to like.
The acting is superb with Bogart playing a very cool, but wounded Rick.
Also, Claude Rains as Capt. Renault was often very funny and gave the
the film a lighthearted feel in between the more serious moments.
The director, Michael Curtiz did an excellent job creating a very subtle, oppressed feel to the characters on screen with the constant spotlight which can be felt in many of the scenes. Also, there was great use in lighting to foreshadow the intentions of many of the characters.
All around Casablanca has a great story, funny/touching moments and a definitive style. I would highly recommend this movie.
For the Allies, 1943 was perhaps the grimmest and most desperate year
of the war, as the conflict threatened to grind on into stalemate. Back
on the home front, movie production was responding appropriately,
cutting back on the flag-waving calls-to-arms, and making pictures that
were more about hope, endurance, and getting on with life during a
state of war. This is where Casablanca fits in.
Everybody knows about Casablanca even people who think they don't will probably be tacitly aware of its many quotable lines. Why has the picture become such a cultural monument? The reasons are many, but that quotable script is as good a place to start as any. Casablanca is based on a (then un-produced) play by Murray Bennet and Joan Alison, which provided the outline. However it was given its Hollywood makeover by celebrated screen writing twins Julius and Philip Epstein, whose best picture up to this point had probably been The Strawberry Blonde (1941) with James Cagney; a witty, rather sentimental and very musical period piece. The Epsteins have brought many similar touches to this picture, especially their approach to music and comedy. Many of the key moments have a musical underpinning; not just the recurring love theme "As Time Goes By", but the playing of the Marseilles to drown out the Nazis, or the "Knock on Wood" number which is played in the first scene at Rick's, and very much establishes the atmosphere of the joint. The Epstein brand of humour doesn't rely on a handful of ridiculous and exaggerated characters, as was the usual at this time. Instead, the jokes all arise from normal things that we might laugh at in real life, such as the market trader reducing the price when he realises Ingrid Bergman is "a special friend of Rick's". This sort of thing is crucial for Casablanca, because it allows a little touch of humour without robbing the story of its dignity or credibility.
Then there is the director Michael Curtiz, a man who has not been deified by the magic wand of the auteur theory, and yet one whom any serious film scholar is forced to pay attention to simply because of the number of important pictures he helmed. Despite this being his best-known picture, he is himself better known for the series of swashbucklers he made with Errol Flynn in the mid-to-late 1930s. It is true that Curtiz's style tended to be very technical, and certainly his most noticeable work has been in the action genre, so as such his having directed Casablanca is seen as being coincidental to its success. Still, his shrewd mechanical mind has added a thing or two to this picture. Take that opening shot of the city, panning down from the mosque tower into the busy street. It's a complex, cluttered shot, but it really gives us a feel for the location and that tense atmosphere, with great touches like those two extras bickering in the foreground. A lot of Curtiz pictures begin with a shot like this crowd scenes that look completely random and extremely realistic, and yet are full of meaning and rich in detail. Curtiz was also not quite the mean-minded movie-making machine that he is sometimes painted as. He did have a feel for romance and sentiment if it was a picture that relied upon it. Casablanca features quite a few uncomplicated close-ups of characters in emotional intensity, just about the only uncluttered shots you get in a Curtiz movie, and they are incredibly moving.
But of course, what would these close-ups be if they weren't of great actors? Casablanca has a flawless cast, but also a very bold one at the time. Humphrey Bogart was only just starting to play leading roles, and even then he was generally an anti-hero. However, Casablanca solidified his screen-persona, a tough individualist on the outside, but a good man at heart, albeit one loathe to reveal it. By showing that there was a human side to his charismatic demeanour, he gave his best performance to that point. Bergman too was just on the cusp of stardom, but she pulls off a role of frailty and tearfulness without getting hysterical, as many a lesser actress would have done. And then there is Claude Rains, one of the few long-established players in the picture. Rains is playing his usual type perhaps his archetypal role and it is actually one not unlike Bogart's, with the crucial difference being that Rains revels in his amorality. And yet Rains's art is that he makes this character, who is utterly despicable on paper, likable on screen.
On that note, it's tempting to view Bogart and Rains as the two leads not Bogart and Bergman. It is Bogart and Rains whose story arcs deal with the main theme of Casablanca whether to strive for individual gain or to fight for the good of the people. And this is after all a movie about people, and hope in the unity of people. There is this feeling of people brought together by their desperate situation, which permeates Rick's and the picture in general, and it's something writers, director and cast have all contributed to. It makes us feel that the struggles of every minor player Peter Lorre's nervous underground agent, Joy Page's young wife desperate to escape the city, S.Z. Sakall's jovial headwaiter, the sadly-unsung Dooley Wilson are as important and immediate as those of the lead players. It is perhaps more than anything else this rich humanity that made the picture connect with wartime audiences, and has made it a work of power and resonance ever since.
Hello, Humphrey Fish is now going to give his review on this classic.
This movie is my favorite with Humphrey Bogart, along with Treasure of the Sierra Madre and The African Queen. Every time I watch this movie, I like it more and more!
My favorite scene was where the Germans were drowned out by La Marseillaise! But when Strasser went over to Renault and demanded that the place be closed, he looked like he was going to murder someone!
I loved the scene where Rick shot Strasser and then the police showed up. Because Renault said: "Major Strasser's been shot." Then he looks over at Rick, who gives him a look like: "Are you going to turn me in?" Then Renualt says: "Round up the usual suspects."
This movie is spectacular!
When Rick (the inimitable Bogart) says to Sam (the inimitable Dooley Wilson), "If it's December 1941 in Casablanca, what time is it in New York?" he's announcing to everyone that this is a movie about Pearl Harbor. That is, it is about this hardboiled, pre-noir American type, who sticks his neck out for no one, and his growing need to go to war.
Need and desire. That's part of the compelling mood of the movie--everything feels like it has to be so. Americans are (by implication) really good at heart, and of course we'll come to the air of pretty Norwegians trapped by love and reluctant Frenchmen trapped by circumstance and all those very interesting lovable refugees (some real refugee actors), trapped by Nazi meanness and brutality, plain and simple.
The romance? That, in a way, is the MacGuffin, not the other way around. Certainly, the famous end to the movie leaves the romance in the dust. Casablanca is a call to arms, for all the best reasons, and it appeals across the decades, too. In fact, the movie premiered on Thanksgiving, 1942, so the U.S. is fully in the war by the time people see it. And it resonates as a confirmation, and almost as prescient. We trust Bogart, by now, to be the right kind of man in every circumstance, just like our own men, husbands, fathers, brothers on the field.
These great things don't make the movie great. Not as a movie. The writing, above all, does that (the Epsteins labored and were as inspired as they were gifted in this, with Howard Koch). But the filming is gorgeous, every scene filled with dense layers foreground to back, including layers of light, and often moving light, from searchlights and passing cars, or in the café as the lights move from piano to band and so on. Actors move across the screen in fluid conversation, sometimes for a laugh, often for a drink, eventually to see Rick, or to fret about getting out, getting to Lisbon, getting to America. It's all idealized and frightening at the same time. The bit actors are astonishing, the direction by the seasoned but unexceptional Curtiz is compact and elegant. Bogart is perfect.
There isn't much to say new, or old, that's worth the time here, with everything out there so well said already. Just Google the movie and read away. Or better yet, watch it again. If you think you've seen the movie enough, look beyond plot and really listen to the writing, and watch the camera-work and lights. It's not a great film by accident, and it doesn't hide why it's great. There are better films, I suppose, of course there are, depending who you ask and on what day. But not many.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I don't know that I can do the 10 lines of text for this. I mean, what can I say that won't be a repetition? This is the yardstick by which all movies are measured. It also contains one of the biggest misnomers of all time. NOBODY says "Play it again, Sam" during this movie. How many bar bets have I won with that one? (Lots) It also goes to show (to paraphrase another classic) 'you never know what you're gonna get'. This was a "B" movie completed in a very short time. And we wind up with a timeless classic. Personal note: IMHO, and not to detract from a wonderful ensemble cast, Claude Rains steals the show. A sign of a truly great film is one you pick up in the middle, no matter how often you have seen it, and you just can't turn it off.
Where to begin..? Originally believed a 'B' film in their product, Warner Bros. never conceived the effect the movie would have. Shot in sequence due to a script written daily, the actors never knew what to expect from the characters day after day. The fact that not even the writers knew who would win the girl till the night before the classic scene was shot. And yet 'Casablanca' is listed at No. 2 on the AFI top 100 films of all time (though should, in all actuality, be flip-flopped with 'Citizen Kane' for the top spot). With success in 'High Sierra' and 'The Maltese Falcon' (Thanks in large part to a rather ignorant George Raft) Bogart was well on his way to being a legitimate leading man. This film would make him a legend a studio star and later, a legend. Sure his body of work was the main factor, but 'Casablanca' in hand with 'Falcon' created the mystique of Bogart which films like 'To Have and Have Not' and 'The Big Sleep' only fueled. A mediocre effort from Warners which molded many of their castaway Euro-stars into a great and well written tapestry where everyone stole the scene from everyone else in such fashion it appeared seamless. The film moves along introducing us to each character in perfect detail, the harsh environment of Casablanca, that war-torn sweat-box which could easily double as a Tatooine spaceport from 'Star Wars', and the Nazi imperial rule who smothers them all. Never looked upon as epic and not even filmed as such 'Casablanca' exudes Epic film in a nice tidy package. With all around fantastic effort from everyone on screen with a great turn by Claude Raines the film is a must see and worthy of No. 2 on the list (sandwiched between 'Kane' and 'The Godfather'). Quickly paced and keeping you in your seat, get the popcorn and don't even think of going to the bathroom.
There's not much to say about "Casablanca" that hasn't been said
already. However this film made Bogart a myth, Bergman a major star,
Rains an everyone's favorite and a song an all time classic.
The sequence in Rick's Cafe when Victor Laszlo asks the band to play the "Marseillese" against the Nazi officer's singing of a German sort of military tune is deeply touching and one of the most remembered scenes ever in a film.
"Casablanca" remains as one of the greatest drama-romance-War World II settled films ever made even that time has gone by for more than 60 years. Unmatched yet.
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