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Review: Casablanca

Summary: Rick, owner of a cafe popular with European refugees in Vichy controlled Casablanca, finds his carefully maintained neutrality and cynicism tested when the love of his life abruptly returns, seeking his help for herself...

...and her husband.

Review: First, a shameful admission. I'm going to be 44 years old next Saturday and I've never seen this movie in its entirety. I knew all the great lines, from "Of all the gin joints in the world..." to "I came for the waters..." to "Round up the usual suspects" of course, but I'd never actually taken the time to watch the film, becoming more reluctant to do so when I got older, mostly because I figured the actual product couldn't match up to the legend.

Ahem. I stand corrected.

I think up until the release of The Princess Bride, this is probably the most quotable movie ever made. Which is nothing short of amazing given the second half of the movie was written on the fly, script changes coming in daily as the writers realized even they didn't know which man Ilsa would end up with, and the executives at Warner Bros. increasingly beginning to panic. And like TPB, it's not so much a single movie as a mashup of different genres that come together like some tasty jambalaya. It's a war movie with no Allied soldiers, a spy thriller with no secret agents, a cop movie where the chief is on the take (and we love him for it), a comedy where the stakes are deadly, and a romance movie where the leading man doesn't get the girl. It all shouldn't work, but somehow it wonderfully does, as Humphrey Bogart plays a cynic with his heart on his sleeve, Ingrid Bergman a woman torn between two men she loves with equal passion, and Claude Raines' Louis is massively corrupt even as he plays his German masters like a violin that might explode in his hands.

A deserved classic, and forever recommended.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 17th, 2013 07:43 pm (UTC)
As I recall Louis and Sam do get to ride off together for certain non-romantic values of that phrase.
Mar. 17th, 2013 08:01 pm (UTC)
Oh, the shipping between them is damned obvious it's a wonder they weren't getting slash ficced even back when the movie was released.
Mar. 17th, 2013 07:55 pm (UTC)
And then there is The Cheap Detective. :-)

I suppose it is hard not to see Casablanca as extremely derivative - from itself, of course. It does drag a bit in spots - but what movie doesn't? I don't re-watch it with the delight that I re-watch Lord of the Rings, but the latter is a lot newer. And drags in places, as well. But I always enjoy watching it again.

And The Cheap Detective is delightful for its very derivativeness (hmm. I seem to have coined a word.)

Mar. 18th, 2013 12:48 am (UTC)
The Marseillaise scene is the one that always gets me: specifically, the moment when the camera switches to the French barmaid - the one who had been flirting with the German officers - singing her heart out, with tears rolling down her face.
Mar. 19th, 2013 12:19 pm (UTC)
It's even more powerful when you remember the French actors in that scene were singing their national anthem for the first time since their nation was invaded. The tears were for real.
Mar. 19th, 2013 12:35 pm (UTC)
Good point. Very good point.
Mar. 18th, 2013 03:05 am (UTC)
Seen it. But you're reminding me I need to see it again.
Mar. 18th, 2013 11:05 am (UTC)
Likewise. I've seen it several times, but not recently -- my VHS copy was given away with most of my old videotapes a while ago, and I never got around to buying a new copy on DVD.
Mar. 19th, 2013 04:57 am (UTC)
We just rewatched it (as research), and it's so tightly written I nearly wept! And I love what you said about the mashing-up of genres and conventions...
Mar. 23rd, 2013 02:39 pm (UTC)
the acting from the two leads struck me as bizarrely wooden - everybody else was acting their hearts out though :)
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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