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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

191 of 1001 Movies: Casablanca (1942)

Even Casablanca can't turn me into a Humphrey Bogart fan. I was able to enjoy the movie though despite that. Michael Curtiz is a legendary director as well that brought the movie, Camille, to life. Once I put that together my excitement lessened as well. There is just something less than alluring about the women in his movies outside of their appearances. Curtiz does love tragically woven romances though, and he never makes them run of the mill classic ones either. He is one of the few directors of the time who wasn't afraid to give people a tough ending to view, and while Casablanca is an ending that is understandable I'm sure the audience is heart broken.

Summary: Rick is a man who left America, and then was forced from his home in Paris to move to Casablanca, where he has opened a bar that is successful in the area for it's entertainment and gambling. One night though is very unlike the others he has had there. A former lover, Isla, shows up with a man not long after an arrest is made in his bar by the Nazis. When Rick is informed to keep an eye out for a man named Victor Laszlo, he relies his former love is with this man.


Acting: The acting does seem to be everyone bringing their best, even Bogart. Ingrid Bergman is Isla, the love interest. Bergman is unlike many actresses I've seen from that time. She doesn't get too dramatic in the way she portrays the women, and she has an elegance about her that is nice to watch. Humphrey Bogart is Rick, and while I think someone else could have been better cast he works with the character well. Paul Henreid was Victor in the movie. I thought Paul was intriguing despite the few moments he had on screen, and I felt more chemistry between him and Isla than her and Rick. Then there is Claude Rains as Captain Louise. I think the development of his character and what side he would land on was my favorite in the movie.

Filming: It seems like the 40's was an innovative time to see what special effects were possible when they were still limited. Hitchcock got creative in Spellbound, and Curtiz gets creative in Casablanca. The lighting creates the allusion of cars passing by, and the scenes of airplanes leaving and arriving are well done as the characters watch. Not many of the scenes even seem outdated because they were well done.

Plot: I think the plot is the best part of the movie. It is very romantic, and it's easy to see why the movie is a romantic classic. The movie shows one of the greatest acts of love that many women long to see in men they are with as Rick makes a huge sacrifice that doesn't guarantee him anything, but it's only for her safety. The human complexity of Rick is well done in that aspect. Casablanca leads up to the climax of the end of the movie quite well, as it shows the character desperately struggling to escape as the Nazis zone in on the city.

Casablanca deserves to be a classic. It has a compelling story, the filming is well done, and even though I'm not a fan of Bogart the acting is quite good. I just didn't feel any chemistry between Isla or Rick. I like the suspense of the plot as we build up toward the end though, and it does get you to caring about the characters enough to cheer on the best for them. The World War II backdrop adds an element that also gives it an epic feel underneath.

Rating 8 of 10.






Casablanca (1942) on IMDb

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