Friday, September 10, 2010
Classic Hollywood Reviews: Casablanca
Humphrey Bogart. Ingrid Bergman.
Chemistry. Tension. War.
What more do you need to make a classic romantic drama?
A dark hero. A piano player as sidekick. The Vichy French. Nazis. And a husband who is wanted for resistance efforts.
Three Academy Awards including Best Picture in 1944.
Memorable lines like "Play it again, Sam," "Here's looking at you, kid," and "Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine."
Casablanca is one of those movies that is iconic and unforgettable. It is the story of Rick and Ilsa, but also the story of the war. Ilsa's husband, who she'd been told had died in resistance activities when she had a brief affair with Rick, has stumbled into his bar in Casablanca. The Nazis are there, and Rick is making a living running a bar. All kinds of subplots exist with people trying to flee the reach of the Nazis, but as they close in there is little anyone can do to escape.
Ilsa is desperate to get the fake documents she and her husband need to escape. She'll even stay with Rick if that means Victor escapes.
Rick is enigmatic and played perfectly by Humphrey Bogart. I think this is one of his finest roles.
It also gives an interesting perspective on the war in 1942. Casablanca premiered the month that Allied troops invaded North Africa. And gives a snapshot of how films were being used to position public opinion. It also hints at the plight of Jews trying to escape the Nazi machine committed to consuming them.
If you haven't seen Casablanca, you really must. It is that good.
BTW, here's an interesting website devoted to the film that contains gems like proposed sequels.