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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
We'll Always Have Casablanca
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!
2004-03-29
This one has it all!
**Spoiler** This movie has it all; literally. The combination of several film genres in its outstanding story make this film one of the best. There are alot of visual metaphors and symbolism throughout as well. Consider the fact that Bogart's character Rick represents the social and military isolationism of the US prior to the war and how he changes to making sacrifices for the good of the cause. "The lives of 2 human beings don't add up to a hill of beans" so he gives her up for the greater good. That's Hollywood telling us that we need to sacrifice in our personal lives in order to fight for the greater good. There is so much to say about this film, especially the hidden meanings behind it. You'll be hard pressed to find a flaw with this film. Masterful direction, acting, and storytelling. *****/*****
2003-07-07
THE Hollywood romance itself!
This movie can compete with the most famous and timeless love stories in history, like Romeo & Julia, the beauty and the beast, Julia Roberts and Richard Geere.

Always remember while you watch it: 1942. Not such a nice time for the world! Not such a nice time for romance. Not such a nice time to stand up against something. It must have been quite an effort to shoot this film during such harsh times. I mean, it's quite a political movie and the scene with the Marseillaise must have been a punch in the face of every fascist.

But all the political quarrels are combined with an amazing love story that hasn't lost a single ounce of its attraction or beauty throughout the years.

But what really made a classic out of the picture is, in my opinion, Humphrey Bogart. I consider him the man of the millennium, a guy with so much masculine attitude and yet so much feeling. It's just an eye-catching experience to see him walk and talk and, most impressive, drink. Any other actor drinks quite ordinary. It's not a big deal to empty a glass of booze. But when Bogie does it, you can feel his pain. You can feel his grief and his anger. You can feel the person behind the scene. If you ask me for the man I respect the most in movie history, it has to be Humphrey Bogart.

Sure, the rest of the cast does a great job as well, Ignrid Bergmann is responsible for half of the chemistry between Rick and Ilsa but well, I can only see them in the shadow of Bogie.

This is one of those movies, you hear so much talking about and you begin to ask what's so great about a dusty old flick, but after you've watched it, you realize what everybody was talking about. At least, that's how I did.

A truly timeless tale about romance with the perfect cast and probably the most memorable quotes in history. Terrific!
2006-12-23
For all-around entertainment, the best I've ever seen
CASABLANCA is the best treatment ever of the ancient theme of the love triangle. Set in World War II Casablanca, a Moroccan city under the control of the collaborationist Vichy French government, the movie starts with a news wire that two German couriers have been murdered and their letters of transit stolen. Each letter will permit one person to leave Casablanca to a neutral country.

Enter Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine, owner of the shady but cheerful Cafe Americaine. Rick is a cynical and hard-nosed man whose motto is, "I stick my neck out for nobody." Like many a cynic, Rick is an embittered ex-idealist, still nursing his wounds from being abandoned by his lover Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman). By chance he falls into possession of the missing letters of transit.

Enter Ilsa, who comes to Casablanca on the arm of Czech Resistance leader Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), a few steps ahead of the Nazi police. We now have three people and two letters of transit. Who will reach America, and who will stay in Casablanca?

I know no other movie that so perfectly balances humor, romance, and drama. The soul of good drama lies in presenting characters with hard choices, and few choices are as hard, or as illuminating of the protagonists' makeup, as the choices in CASABLANCA. All of the characters must decide what they will give up for love, for honor, and for themselves. The scenes of Rick and Ilsa's love, years ago in Paris, are some of the finest romantic scenes in cinema. And the humor, particularly in the person of Casablanca's Prefect of Police, Louis Renault, has contributed dozens of dry witticisms to our everyday language - "I am shocked! Shocked! - "The Germans wore gray, you wore blue." - "I was misinformed." - "It would take a miracle to get you out of Casablanca, and the Germans have outlawed miracles." So perfectly blended are these three major elements that you cannot point to a single shot or scene that should have been eliminated from the movie. Never try to watch only one scene from CASABLANCA; you will inevitably be absorbed until the very end of the film. It is little short of miraculous that the chaotically mismanaged shooting of this movie resulted in such a magnificent final product; it speaks volumes for luck and for Owen Marks' and Michael Curtiz' post-production editing.

I have never encountered a movie whose supporting cast was so perfectly realized. Every minor character is a fleshed-out, realistic individual, from Sasha to Carl the headwaiter to Rick's competitor Ferrari to the self-effacing criminal Ugarte. Claude Rains' Captain Renault ("I'm only a poor corrupt official") steals scene after scene, and Dooley Wilson's Sam is a refreshingly loyal, charismatic and sympathetic conception from an era when almost all black characters were rendered as demeaning stereotypes. The only character who tastes of the cliche is the villainous Major Strasser, which can be forgiven in a wartime production.

The only film I have ever seen as tautly effective as CASABLANCA is GLORY. Although the 54th Mass.'s story is arguably superior even to CASABLANCA for sheer dramatic power and acting talent, GLORY lacks CASABLANCA's wonderful humor and romance, which causes me to give the edge to Curtiz' classic as the better-rounded movie. I have yet to see CASABLANCA surpassed.

Rating: **** out of ****.
1999-08-27
A magical movie for a magical night in Phnom Penh
What could have been another piece of dreary American propaganda for WWII, turned out- by a strange piece of magic- to be a cinematic masterpiece, and ultimately a legend. Was it the director, Michael Curtiz? Was it the black and White photography, was it Dooley Wilson's haunting voice. Was it the superb casting? Who knows? but to think of anyone else playing the roles would have been insanity. Another Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Conrad Veidt, Bogart or Bergman. Impossible.

About four years ago I was travelling around south-east Asia and in Phnom Penh (in Cambodia) and one night I went to the Foreign Correspondants club. It was my birthday and I was on my own so I stayed for a few drinks. I then found out that the club was showing THE ORIGINAL Casablanca. The benches the audience sat on were wooden. There were geckos running around the ceiling, no air conditioning, and it was heaven. The visa pronounced vezay, the gloved hand holding the 'aeroplane' Sydney Greenstreet swatting flies. Wonderful.
2007-09-20
It'll never be equalled
Simply put: the best American film of all time and I ain't kidding. I've seen it no less than one dozen times and each viewing has a bit more than the last.Simply impossible to believe that during the making of it,the original writers, the Epstein Brothers, walked out in disgust and in came Howard Koch, the author of the famous 1938 Mercury Theater Orson Welles's "War of the Worlds" based on H.G.'s masterpiece. That's right-the Epsteins said the film was going nowhere-they took a hike and Bogey and Koch sat down and together completed the script. Even Ingrid Bergman, after shooting was done, said she never wanted to be associated with such garbage again. Oh heck, I could write a million words of praise about "Casablanca" but never could I impart the true greatness of the film. It's got to be seen to be believed. The whole darn thing is engrossing, enchanting, mesmerizing,tough,tender,stirring,nationalistic,anti-Nazi and that's only the beginning. "As Time Goes By" is not only one of America's greatest love songs but just about the one song most closely associated with any film. Dooley Wilson looks like he's playing it but the truth is that the man didn't know how to play the piano. But who cares,Miss Ilsa? Want to know how good is that picture? Ever hear of anyone buying and devouring three books about it? I did. (1)"Casablanca" by Richard Anobile,(2) "Casablanca" by Howard Koch and (3)the most definitive work ever written about the film,the 402 page tome,"Round Up the Usual Suspects" by Aljean Harmetz which I read twice. Enough said.
2003-07-08
I laughed! I cried!
Most teenagers don't watch classics I know. But after they've seen this one, there's no turning back! This is the classic to end all classics (That and Gone With The Wind which rocked! but the ending was a bit unusual.) I had been an Ingrid Bergman fan after watching Gaslight with my drama class. It was great because I love a good mystery type thing.

Casablanca was a bit confusing at first, but I found out in the end that it has just the right blend of romance, drama, and comedy. Plus, my dad instilled in me a love for all things World War II related.

I would recommend this movie for children 15 and older, not because there's anything bad, but simply because I don't think younger children would understand it. You guys my age, this is a great Sit-down-and-watch-with-your-girl-on-a-rainy-afternoon type movie, and parents already love it, so everyone's happy.

I always say when I write these things that, even though I liked it, you might not. CHeck it out for yourself and form your own opinion.
2003-06-29
Not bad by any means, but still the most overrated film of all time
This is a good movie, maybe even a great one. It is most definitely not one of the best movies ever made. What it is is a perfect example of a specific style of "Old Hollywood" filmmaking, maybe the best example there is. But if that style was the best way to make films, they would still make films like that.

That's not to say I don't like this movie. I even understand why some people love it. It's a pleasant romantic film with some very iconic moments. For me, The Marseillaise scene is very powerful. Despite all that, this film fails to be a great piece of art in the way more challenging films like Citizen Kane, Persona, and The Passion of Joan of Arc are.

And that's because, despite the strong story of the film, it has very little to say. Curtiz is not interested in raising any questions, but simply telling his story and drumming up support for the war. He's also not a great director, as the movie's cinematic style is overly theatrical, without any attempt to use cinematography and editing to tell the story. The acting is (as usual) is great from Bergman, and rather cheesy from Bogart.

This movie is a classic, there's no denying that. But it's a classic because it's simply a good example of a style that is typical of the time. What is typical is almost never important. If the movie is worth watching it's only because of the place it holds in American culture. It's place in the overall history and development of film is almost nonexistent.
2016-08-12
One of the greatest
This is one of the greatest movies ever made. It transcends time. The script is just pure poetry. Sure, some of the supporting actors are a little stiff but Bogart and Bergman have a chemistry that has never been captured on screen again. The ending is the best 15 minutes of film ever. Anyway, can't say enough for this movie. Chris
2002-09-16
Beautiful movie, the best love story put on screen...
..."Casablanca" stars Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine, a bartender in the poor 1940s town of Casablanca. Men and woman are constantly coming through here, looking for a ticket to America. Police Captain Renault (Claude Rains) occasionally helps them out, but for a price - or the company of a beautiful woman. One night Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) arrives at Rick's saloon, but what surprises Rick is the woman whom Laszlo bring along. The woman is Ilsa Bund (Ingrid Bergman), Laszlo's wife and Blaine's former flame. Ilsa's sudden appearance sends Blaine's new, well structured life into a swirl towards oblivion.

Every actor plays their part perfectly. Bogart delivers a cool and clever performance as Blaine, with memorable lines like "I stick my neck out for nobody" he creates one of the most memorable and likable movie characters of all time. Rains delivers a fun (and hilarious) performance too as the corrupt police captain. He flirts and makes illegal deals, all the while keeping his smug grin and witty charm.

I wouldn't call "Casablanca" the best movie ever made, but it certainly is the best (and most realistic) love story that's ever been put on screen. The music, people, and even the town of Casablanca is beautiful.

And so is "Casablanca", 8.5/10.
2003-07-26
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