#32: Casablanca (1942)

When and how did I watch this?

April 1st, 2017, on Amazon.

Had I seen this film already?

Nope.

What did I know about the movie before watching it?

Almost nothing, beyond the Bogart billing. My wife often teases that this film is the one all of the cliche lines and motifs in other films come from.

What do I know about it now?

Casablanca was released right in the middle of World War II, after Pearl Harbor and during some of the heaviest fighting in the conflict. The setting is a city in Morocco, primarily at a club called “Rick’s”, run by none other than Rick Blaine (Bogart); the locale is overrun by refugees and loyalists of all sides. Rick/Bogart is his typical hardened persona, but the environment is perfect for this character. When Ilsa (Bergman), Rick’s ex-lover, arrives at the club with her Czech husband, Rick’s world flips upside down. Unspeakable tension transpires as Rick is forced to decide to help her escape the city or send her husband off and keep her for himself. The chemistry between Bogart and Bergmann is legendary stuff.  We hold our collective breaths for the majority of the movie because we’re so enamored and frustrated alongside the leads; as a world war rages all around them, we only want to see them finally come together. The film feels nostalgic from start to finish; the setting is magical and surreal, and everyone is a caricature of a sort.  There’s a sense that, despite the conflict involved, everything is going to be alright. Another interesting observation: there is no true antagonist among the characters — Rick and Ilsa are working against fate and passing of time.

What are some themes in the film?

Pride, love, WWII, fate, Vichy France, neutrality

Did this affect me personally?

The film has a unique flow about it that causes the whole film to become memorable and nostalgic.

Why is this ranked #32?

Casablanca consistently ranks among the greatest films of all time, and I would presume that there are many folks today that haven’t seen it that simply agree because there’s a universal acknowledgement of its legend. This might be Bogart’s finest work, though I personally enjoyed The Treasure of the Sierra Madre more, as it was a departure from his normal loner persona. Ingrid Bergman is absolutely captivating.

Did my wife watch/like it?

I watched this while she was on a trip for the weekend.

Would I watch it again?

Though I might not ever decide to own the film, it’s the kind of movie you can watch every day.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

Its significance parallels Citizen Kane; if you say you love films, this is one you’re supposed to have watched.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

I watched a lot of Looney Tunes as a kid; the cartoons were developed right alongside the golden age of American cinema, and to my ignorance constantly made pop culture references by featuring caricatures of Bing Crosby, the Marx Brothers, and Humphrey Bogart, certainly among a host of others. I heard the line, “This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship” several times without knowing its source. And how about “Here’s looking at you, kid”, another well-known quote? The film is as prevalent and influential as they come.  If movies were a family, this one might be the great-granddaddy.

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