Thursday, July 11, 2013

Film Flick: Casablanca

Casablanca, Bogart, Bergman, classic movie, movie review,
Roger Ebert said of Casablanca that he had never seen a negative review of the film. While probably not completely true, it is, arguably, one of the greatest films of all time, something no one at the studio would have predicted at the time of its making. The story originated as a play script passed over by all the other studio heads. Everybody Comes to Rick's was dubbed by one studio producer as "one of the worst plays ever written." Nevertheless, its exotic locale was similar to earlier hits, so the property was finally bought up and renamed.

Casablanca is a tale of love in difficult times. Set Nazi-infested, French Vichy-controlled Africa, it pits the desire for love against the need to do right. Casablanca is an international pressure cooker, en route from war-torn Europe to the freedom of the Americas. Where some will do anything to get out of Casablanca, two transits of free passage are prizes to kill and die for. When an old flame appears in Rick's Cafe, the stakes to get out of Casablanca alive become higher still. 

The film stars Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart, in what is perhaps each actor's best known role. Though The Maltese Falcon's Sam Spade is largely considered Bogart's break-away part, Rick was his first romantic one, and the one that cemented him as a Hollywood star. Despite the onscreen romantic tension though, the two were not close. "I kissed him," Bergman would later recall, "But I never knew him." 

Casablanca, Bogart, Bergman, classic movie, movie review,

Nor did she, or anyone else for that matter, know how the story was going to end for much of the filming. Actors were getting script rewrites with new lines to memorize the night before- or sometimes even the very morning of-  filming. Bergman complained of not knowing who her character, Ilse, would end up with- her lover, Rick, or her husband, the resistance leader Victor Lazo. Unsure himself, the director encouraged her to "play it... in between." Perhaps it is some of this uncertainty that adds to the film, creating a palpable tension, as the audience senses even the characters do not know where this story will end. 

Though the film's success is certainly due to the chemistry of the two leads, it is an all-star cast with Paul Henreid as the second male lead, Victor Lazo; Claude Rains as the unscrupulous French captain; and small but distinctive parts for the likes of Sydney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre (both of whom were also in The Maltese Falcon with Bogart). 

This film is one that can be watched again and again without ever seeming old. No gesture, no line is extraneous  Though no one coud see it till it was in front of them on the screen, it was a film where everything came together perfectly. So, if you haven't seen it, then- why are you still reading this? Watch it. Just do. If you have seen this film, and know its magic, well then... Here's looking at you, kid.
Casablanca, Bogart, Bergman, classic movie, movie review,

9 comments:

  1. marc and i were just talking about how we wanted to watch this! this review came at the perfect time. and a few weeks back i watched Sabrina, so I wouldn't mind looking at Humphrey Bogart again ;)

    xo marlen
    Messages on a Napkin

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    1. You will love him 1000X more here, promise! Let me know what you think of the movie when you watch it (actually too, one of my favorite Bogart films is To Have and Have Not with Lauren Becall. It is the film where they met and fell in love in real life!)

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  2. SOMEHOW some-stinking-how, I have never watched this film. My sister has recommended it to me for years. I need to go watch it immediately! Always great to hear some history behind the films too, so I always enjoy your movie reviews :)

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  3. And agaian a classic that I have yet to see! I feel like I am the biggest movie-culture newbie out here. I should be ashamed! x

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    1. Oh, I pressed that publish-button too soon! I also wanted to say that I can't believe how y-good you are with your words :) this post was amazingly written Kristian, really! xo NIkki

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  4. Oh, Casablanca...I see it every Valentine's Day at a local theater :). A true classic!
    -Annie

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    1. What a fun Valentine's day tradition!

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  5. I have heard of this film a couple of times. I guess I should really watch it now. :D

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