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Casablanca
Year:
1942
Country:
USA
Genre:
Drama, War, Romance
IMDB rating:
8.6
Director:
Michael Curtiz
Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine
Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa Lund
Paul Henreid as Victor Laszlo
Claude Rains as Captain Renault
Conrad Veidt as Major Strasser
Sydney Greenstreet as Signor Ferrari
Peter Lorre as Ugarte
Joy Page as Annina Brandel
John Qualen as Berger
Leonid Kinskey as Sascha
Curt Bois as Pickpocket
Storyline: In World War II Casablanca, Rick Blaine, exiled American and former freedom fighter, runs the most popular nightspot in town. The cynical lone wolf Blaine comes into the possession of two valuable letters of transit. When Nazi Major Strasser arrives in Casablanca, the sycophantic police Captain Renault does what he can to please him, including detaining a Czechoslovak underground leader Victor Laszlo. Much to Rick's surprise, Lazslo arrives with Ilsa, Rick's one time love. Rick is very bitter towards Ilsa, who ran out on him in Paris, but when he learns she had good reason to, they plan to run off together again using the letters of transit. Well, that was their original plan....
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Reviews
Of all the classics in all the films in all the world, this is the best!
This is a film that MUST belong in every video collection in the U.S. is not in the world. The stories about it's making are legendary from the constant rewrites to the apocrypha of casting stories.

What is amazing to me, and the reason I believe it holds audiences almost spellbound in successive viewings, is the connection with the horrors of World War II was almost every single cast member. Sidney Greenstreet had lost a son in combat, and a number of the cast members fled Europe to escape the ravages of a Hitler regime. Even the evil Nazi character Major Strasser (played with relish by Conrad Veidt) had left Nazi Germany to escape almost sure internment and possible death in a concentration camp. Here was a man who was a legend in German film history as the murdering somnambulist (a possible warning about the Nazi soldiers to come?) and because of the vicious anti-Semitism and racism of the Germany of the '30s and '40s, we in America and in Hollywood were given a great gift.

Everyone in this film is fabulous, but it is the chemistry of Rick (Bogart) and Ilsa (Bergman) been truly holds the film together. When I saw this film almost frame by frame in the limited book series of classic films that were produced in the late 1960s, I was stunned by the subtlety of facial expressions that conveyed so much of Rick Blaine's character by a marvelous actor Humphrey Bogart. There is a reason why he was named the actor of the century.

While every person in the film becomes a real flesh and blood presence, the story of Rick and Ilsa is the center of this cinema feast.

I must confess that I have seen this picture so many times that I can recite every single line in the movie to the consternation of my wife who can't watch it with me anymore.

The line that sticks out the most for me, and which against cheers from New Yorkers whenever it plays in the theater. It is when Bogart says to the Nazis seated at his table, "There are parts of New York I wouldn't advise you to invade." And what makes this line so memorable is that Humphrey Bogart did indeed star in another motion picture for Warner Brothers where that very thing formed the basis for the script. That movie was "All Through The Night." I love this movie too, and I'm not even a New Yorker.

There have been many attempts to revisit "Casablanca," but only the original makes you really feel what it was like to live through "The Good War" in a faraway place like Casablanca in French Morocco.

Even though such trickery as midget airport workers, fog machines and cardboard cutout airplanes were utilized, this film convinces through its beautiful story with many layers, and characters that are so well realized.

If you've never seen this movie before, shame on you and see it immediately. If you only seen it once, I believe you will come back to it more than once. This is just about the most perfect film ever made and it is a miracle that that is so considering that there were so many hands in the pie. (Excuse me for my mixing my metaphors. It's late, and I get emotional just thinking about this classic film masterpiece.)

Play it again and again and again and again, Sam.
2004-08-11
Exceptional, Outstanding, Wonderful, Dominant, a Total Triumph
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.
2001-01-26
The best
Casablanca is the best movie ever made. It has the best love story ever put in a movie. The chemistry between Bogart and Bergman made them two of my favorite actors to date.
1998-08-16
The best of a kind
Spoilers ahead.

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.
2002-04-16
Casablanca gets better and better as time goes by!
Saw this classic in DVD format the other night. I must confess that it looks just as good as I remembered it. Michael Curtiz's film is a curious one. It enjoys presently perhaps more popularity than when it originally made its debut in 1942. As new generations discovered the picture, they made it a timeless film, and generations to come will also be charmed by it.

The story of Rick and Ilsa and their impossible love affair will be something to be treasured by film lovers forever. Casablanca in the 40s was a hot bed of intrigue; lots of people tried to get there, but perhaps leaving the place was harder because the red tape of that era and the fact that the Nazis had a way to spoil a party.

In a lot of ways, this is a dated film. By today standards it would be politically incorrect. But ultimately, we all fall under the spell that Michael Curtiz created and for almost two hours we are in Casablanca among the spies and would be travelers eavesdropping into their conversations and the different schemes going on.

Humphrey Bogart was an actor without the looks of some of the handsome male stars of that era, yet, he is mesmerizing as Rick Blaine. It would be hard to imagine another actor playing Rick other that Bogart. Ingrid Bergman was at the height of her career when she made the film. Her chemistry with her co star is one of the best things going, since they made it believable.

The rest of the cast is flawless. Paul Henreid, as Victor Lazlo, cuts quite a figure and it is hard to think Ilsa would prefer Rick to this suave and sophisticated man. Claude Rains is good as Capt. Renault. Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, S.K. Sakall, and above all Dooley Wilson, as Sam, made a magnificent contribution to the film in small roles.

Casablanca gets better and better, as time goes by.
2004-06-27
Casablanca, ahh Romance, Bravery, Loyalty, Decency!
Some have commented that movies like "American Beauty" or "Fight Club" should be listed above this on the AFI list of movies. I loved both those films but there is no way you can compare a modern Babbitt (sad and pitiful as he is) or some post-modern fantasizing about how to get out of your credit-card bill with someone giving up Ingrid Bergman (!) and the coolest job in the world to go fight Nazis in the desert.

I think loving this film is a matter of wanting to see a universality on film that speaks to the better angels of our nature, not just the pretty decent ones, but qualities of honor that are hard to find in modern film.

Also Bogie Kicks *ss. And the Love Story is de-voon.

I remember when I made my best friend watch it (we were 15 and I'd already seen it a dozen times). As Louis and Rick walk away and the music comes up she smacked me and yelled "He lets her leave?? HOW could you let me watch this and he let's her LEAVE?!"

The movie is poetry. Plain and simple.

and remember: there are vultures, vultures everywhere.
2002-10-28
Splendid
I thought I had seen a very rare few of the great movies that have been made. I now trust, I was right.

SPOILERS

Casablanca, a place of transit. People come, people go, like a river that doesn't stop to flow. The circumstances make Casablanca a very important place: France already invaded by the nazi troops, America seems the only way to freedom. Humans reign that city, and humans always have two sides: a sentimental side and a raw picture of themselves.

Casablanca is a love story and it is a drama. It is not one of those love stories we get to see nowadays...it is something special, where actually love does not really prevail. It shows that the individual sometimes has to sacrifice himself in order for humanity to win. Some people are capable of such a sacrifice, others are not.

Rick and Victor are quite the same kind of people, or at least would've been if they had met sooner. Rick changed after Ilsa left him, and he lost his will to fight...probably because there wasn't anyone to support him, because Ilsa wasn't with him. So, when he took the decision at the end he knew why he did that, and he sacrificed himself. He adapted himself to the life in Casablanca, and was doing well there...until Ilsa came along with her husband...

Ilsa was for him Paris, not Casablanca. His time with Ilsa was in Paris. As she left him, he was destroyed, but found the power to keep going. Since then he didn't seem a very friendly character, but he was a good hearted one. His "donation" for the young couple was an act of greatness, and through that he avoided any "less pleasent things" for the young lady.

Victor is fighting for freedom, has suffered a lot, but knows to keep his nerve. He has a great will, and psychical strength, and his role is of a pretty great importance. There wasn't only the war all could see, there was also the war of the already conquered countries. This was a more difficult one, and for the ones who dared to take part in it, it usually meant death.

The "poor" corrupted captain Renault, is a nice character. He is funny, and he is the kind of guy who is on the side of those who have the power. Actually, that is quite cowardly, but he does his job pretty well. He's also got a sense of rightness, but until the end, his job is more important than that. He shows finally that he is a sentimentalist, and that he does know what is right. His decision at the end isn't quite glorious, as he at first warns Strasser, but then, as there weren't any risks involved, he decides to keep to Rick.

The actors are just great, and the whole atmosphere of the movie is unique. You will feel your heart beat, you might fall in love with the characters, and you will feel the tense situations. This movie is definitely one of the best I have ever seen, if not the actual best. In a world that hasn't changed much, where money still makes the laws, love is the thing that can make you survive, and win your battles. This movie is touching...this movie is the only real romance movie I have seen, and It showed to me that I was partly wrong asking myself why only older movies are in some movie standings.
2003-01-11
I'd Like to Think You Killed a Man, It's the Romantic in Me
It's that kind of cynicism that makes this old-time classic endearing to a modern day audience. "Casablanca" is a noirish melodrama set against the back-drop of WWII and Europeans fleeing to America by way of French Morocco. What's so refreshing about it, in spite of its classical love triangle theatrics, is that is never places romantic love on a pedestal. It realizes that in a world of uncertainty where neutrality is the biggest crime, there are more noble things than love.

This movie is sited by many critics and viewers alike as one of the top three greatest films ever made. It's easy to see why. It contains probably the greatest dialogue ever written for the screen. It stars two screen icons in their greatest roles and a superb supporting cast. It's directed by Curtiz with a complete lack of pretension. There's nothing overtly artistic about it, or any sign that anybody involved was trying too hard. Essentially this was a gathering of classy professionals who set out to accomplish one thing: make an entertaining film. In the process, they might have made the greatest. Unlike so many of the other classics of this period, you never have to view it "in context" to appreciate and enjoy it. Rock solid entertainment anchored by smart writing cleverly cast and competently directed translates well in any day and age. Play it again, Sam, and it gets even better As Time Goes By.
2003-08-16
Beyond classic
Spoilers ahead, but then again, who isn't familiar with Casablanca, even if one hasn't seen it?

I've been watching 'Casablanca' over and over again since I bought the Special Edition DVD, and is there any film out there one can watch again and again without ever being tired of it? And does any film appeal to a broader audience? Just everything about it seems to be as close to perfection as it only can be.

But what exactly is so special about it? Is it its great genre mix, never equaled by another film? When we think of 'Casablanca' first, we remember it as a romantic film (well, most of us do). But then again, its also a drama involving terror, murder and flight. One can call it a character study, centering on Rick. And there are quite a few moments of comedic delight, just think of the pickpocket ("This place is full of vultures, vultures everywhere!") or the elderly couple on the last evening before their emigration to the US ("What watch?").

But 'Casablanca' is not only great as a whole, it still stands on top if we break it apart and look at single lines of dialog, scenes or performances alone. Is there any other film which has more quotable dialog than 'Casablanca'? 'Pulp Fiction' is on my mind here, and 'All About Eve' and 'Sunset Blvd.' come close, too, but still I think 'Casablanca' tops everything else. And not only is the dialog great, it's unforgettably delivered, especially by Humphrey Bogart ("I was misinformed.") and Claude Rains ("I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on here"). Many of scenes have become a part of film history; the duel of 'Die Wacht am Rhein' and 'La Marseillaise' is probably one of the greatest scenes ever shot (the only I can think of that would rival it for the #1 spot is Hynkel and the globe from Chaplin's 'The Great Dictator'), and the last scene is probably even familiar to the few people who've never seen 'Casablanca'. Am I the only one who is absolutely convinced that the film wouldn't have become what it is today if Rick and Ilsa would have ended up as the lucky couple?

About the performances: So much has been said about the uniqueness of Humphrey Bogart's and Ingrid Bergman's chemistry as Rick and Ilsa, about Claude Rains' terrific turn as Renault, about the scene-stealing performances by Peter Lorre (one of the 10 all-time greatest actors) as Ugarte and Sydney Greenstreet as Ferrari and about Dooley Wilson stopping the show as Sam. I'd love to emphasize here two other performances, one that is not mentioned quite as often and one which is blatantly overlooked: Conrad Veidt as Major Strasser had a really difficult task here, as his character is the only evil one, but still Strasser is not a one-dimensional character, and it took more than 50 years until another actor gave an equally (maybe even more) impressive performance as a Nazi, Ralph Fiennes in 'Schindler's List'. But why no one ever mentions S. K. Sakall, who plays Carl, the jolly waiter at Rick's Café Américain, is beyond me. He has definitely more screen time than Lorre, Greenstreet and Wilson, and probably about as much as Veidt, and he's a joy whenever he's on the screen. I simply love his reaction when the pickpocket ("Vultures everywhere!") accidentally bumps into him, or the reaction to the "What watch"-dialog. Or how he says he gave Strasser the best table, "being a German, he would have taken it anyway". His performance is simply criminally overlooked.

So is there a weakest link in 'Casablanca'? Every film, no matter how close to perfection, has a minor flaw or two, so one can find them in 'Casablanca', too, if one really tries hard. So yes, one might ask how much sense the entire mumbo jumbo about the letters of transit makes. One might point out that Paul Henreid, although his performance is certainly good, doesn't come close to the greatness of any of his co-stars. However, the film is so close to perfection that I'm almost ashamed that I'm so desperately trying to find less-than-perfect elements.

So whatever films will come, how many sequels will overflow the screen, and how much junk we will have to sit through, one thing is certain if we're desperate to see a great film: We'll always have Casablanca!
2017-06-23
Bogart at his very best...
When Hal Wallis and Michael Curtiz paired Humphrey Bogart with Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Sydney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre...well, that combination in and of itself was sufficient to make the movie a "box office" smash. However, the year was 1942 and the subject matter and scenario in 'Casablanca' was quite the contemporary issue for that time. No one could know the events that would occur in the following years, as the world waged the brutal battles of World War II. Yet, out of the growing global chaos, Curtiz was able to direct a masterpiece that will continue to rank among the best films ever made. This is classic, quintessential "Bogey" at his very best. Starring as Rick Blaine, with his sharp, if not, brash style, Bogart gives such life to this character with incredible precision, that he's worthy to be remembered for the classic line "Here's looking at you kid..."

Matched with the stellar performances of the other cast members, this movie will always be an industry standard for it's brilliance and consuming style. If you're a fan of classic films, you must see this one!!
2003-02-12
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