Almost 80 years after Warner Bros. released the film in theaters, Casablanca remains one of the greatest films of all time.
Bogart and Bergman put in performances that would also define both of their careers. It was a match made in heaven in casting the film. A love story that was also doomed from the very beginning.
Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), who remains neutral, runs Rick’s Café Americaine. It’s December 1941 and this is before the United States entered World War 2. The cafe attracts clientele from both sides–some of whom are also wanting to make their way to the United States. One such client manages to also get his hands on letters of transit. Such letters give someone the freedom to travel around German-occupied Europe.
Of course, everything changes for Rick when Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) walks into the joint. All it takes is Sam (Dooley Wilson) playing “As Time Goes By. Ilsa is trying to escape to the US with her husband, the Czech Resistance leader, Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid). While Rick and Ilsa have a history, it’s their history that maybe clouds his own judgement. This is one of the most iconic films of all time so chances are likely that you already know what happens next. It’s also one of the greatest love stories of all time from a certain point of view.
Who would have ever thought that an unproduced play, Everybody Comes to Rick’s, from Murray Burnett and Joan Alison would become one of the greatest films ever made? It certainly helps that the casting fell into place. Perhaps what is the most surprising about the film’s production is the shooting of scenes not knowing what is coming next. I would not say that the film was rushed into production but one must wonder if a polished script would have given us these results. Given the circumstances, Michael Curtiz certainly did a brilliant job behind the camera.
This film is also a gem of a beauty that continually grows iconic with time. When you think about the top ten–or even five–films of all time, you’ll certainly be hard pressed to find a list that doesn’t contain Casablanca. And yet, here we are admiring the direction, acting, writing, music, etc.
With six of the greatest lines ever, make no mistake that the Oscar-winning screenplay is probably the best one ever:
- “Here’s looking at you, kid.”
- “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
- “Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By.'”
- “Round up the usual suspects.”
- “We’ll always have Paris.”
- “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”
Casablanca is like fine wine–the film only gets better with time.
DIRECTOR: Michael Curtiz
SCREENWRITERS: Julius J. Epstein and Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch
CAST: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, S.Z. Sakall, Madeleine LeBeau, Dooley Wilson, Joy Page, John Qualen, Leonid Kinskey, Curt Bois