Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Anniversary, Casablanca!

"It was on this day in 1942 that the film Casablanca had its first showing. The event took place at the Hollywood Theater in New York City. It starred Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart. Casablanca is the story of a cynical freedom fighter-turned-nightclub owner, Rick Blaine, an American expatriate living in Casablanca and staying out of politics, staying on the good side of the local police chief. Then Victor Laszlo, a leader of the European resistance movement, turns up in town and needs Rick's help. He brings his wife, Ilsa, who turns out to be Rick's former lover, a woman who ran away from Rick and broke his heart. Rick has two visas to get out of occupied Casablanca, and he considers escaping with Ilsa, but gives his visas to Victor and Ilsa.

The film did pretty well and got decent reviews. The New Yorker magazine called it 'pretty tolerable.' But it won the Academy Award for Best Picture, and now it's one of the best-loved films of all time, and one of the most quoted."

13 comments:

  1. Anonymous12:02 PM

    I watch the film several times a year, and it still brings me to tears. It is not just romantic; it is about people choosing between self-interest and what is right. Rick Blaine (Bogart) sacrifices the love of his life to do what is right, and to serve a larger cause.

    Younger people don't quite "get" the film now, perhaps because it is somewhat dated. They are likely to miss the meaning of some scenes if they didn't know that Vichy was the capital of the Nazi-collaborationist government of France, or that Charles DeGaulle's personal symbol was the Double-barred Cross of Lorraine. Indeed, modern film historians are downgrading it to a mere cult film (It used to vie with Citizen Kane as the best film ever made, but now it is slipping fast.)

    And I also watch it because I am still in love with Ingrid Bergman, the most beautiful and electrifying woman of the twentieth century.

    Richard Wheeler

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  2. This has been one of my favorite movies for more years than I like to think about, and I agree with you about Bergman.

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  3. I know it's often difficult to pick one favorite movie, but Casablanca is mine. I've seen it close to 100 times, and I've just got my second wind for another 100.

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  4. I never get tired of this film.

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  5. Add me to the list of people who love this movie. I've always been bothered by one little thing, though. The visas referred to in the review are actually Letters of Transit "signed by Charles DeGaulle himself." However, DeGaulle was an enemy of the Vichy government and his signature on a paper would be worthless. Can anyone tell me if I'm wrong?

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  6. One of my all time faves. And starring my definate favourite actor of ever and ever

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  7. This is a great film--and every aspect of it works so well, and so many great lines. I'd say my three favorite films: this, To Be or Not to Be (Jack Benny version) and The Third Man.

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  8. However, DeGaulle was an enemy of the Vichy government and his signature on a paper would be worthless. Can anyone tell me if I'm wrong?

    No, you're absolutely right. But I've learned to ignore it.

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  9. Anonymous6:54 PM

    The De Gaulle Letters of Transit are an error. They should have been signed by Marshal Petain or one of his cohort. This is discussed at length, along with other errors, in The Casablanca Companion, by Richard E. Osborne. The errors come to nothing compared to the power of the film.

    Richard Wheeler

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  10. Brian Drake7:32 PM

    If I recall correctly from the Ebert commentary on my Casablanca DVD, the DeGaulle error also appeared in the stage version which preceded the film and the writers did it on purpose to see who might catch it. Nobody did, and it ended up in the film, too. Why the writers didn't correct it for the film script is beyond me, and I wish they had, because when I learned about the error it was quite jarring. However, even the Nazis in this movie seem much tamer than they might have been in real life, so if I can accept that as part of the drama and intrigue, the DeGaulle thing can pass, too.

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  11. Anonymous8:44 AM

    It's definitely my favorite as well. What a cast! And Ingrid never looked better.

    Jeff

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  12. Thanks to all who commented on the DeGaulle signature. Like you, I don't let it diminish my love of the film. My favorite scene is the battle of the national anthems, closely followed by the ending.

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  13. Anonymous6:53 PM

    Casablanca reached its apex in the 70s. In 1972 a USC poll of the most significant films in history placed it 18th. In 1975 a poll of 1500 film executives placed it second out of thirty. That year, the American Film Institute took a poll of best movies ever made, and Casablanca came in third, behind Gone With the Wind and Citizen Kane. In 1983 the British Film Institute voted Casablanca the best film ever made. In 1989 Casablanca was one of 25 films selected by the National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically and aestheticlaly significant." Also in 1989, 22 of the world's top movie critics ranked Casablanca ninth out of a hundred.

    Richaard Wheeler

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