In the city of Casablanca, Rick Blaine has been exiled as a former American freedom fighter during World War II. As the owner of a popular nightclub, his hotspot attracts a number of transient people coming out of Nazi-occupied Europe. Rick, a celebrity among the populous, is a man who is out only for himself. With the arrival of some Nazi officers, Captain Louis Renault is attempting to give the best impression possible and gain some credit with his guests. At the same time as the arrival of the Nazis, Victor Laszlo and Ilsa Lund walk into Rick’s and create a challenge for the owner. With a tryst in Paris connecting Ilsa and Rick, old memories are stirred and create a challenge for the seemingly nonchalant owner. After falling into possession of two blank letters of transit, Rick has the tough decision to make regarding who gets to receive the opportunity to get out of Casablanca and what he will do about the reappearance of his former love.
Starring: Humphrey Bogart (Rick Blaine), Ingrid Bergman (Ilsa Lund), Paul Henreid (Victor Laszlo), Claude Rains (Capt. Louis Renault), Conrad Veidt (Major Heinrich Strasser), Sydney Greenstreet (Signor Ferrari), Peter Lorre (Ugrate), Dooley Wilson (Sam), Joy Page (Annina Brandel), Madeleine Lebeau (Yvonne), SZ Sakall (Carl)
Nominated for the best actor award of the 1944, Humphrey Bogart leads the way as the stalwart club owner. His strong personality helps hides so much of his history and his discomfort with the Nazi presence. In the flashback to Paris, he shows a slightly different side of himself, one that includes his open love for Ilsa and compassion of others. Ingrid Bergman played Ilsa and gave her character a great femininity with an edge. Though she mostly follows the direction of her husband and her heart, she also has a moment of strength and desperation that serves to challenge Bogart’s character’s stoic nature. Paul Henreid is a mostly one-dimensional actor in this film but his character is not as important to the character development other than to serve as a catalyst for Ilsa and Rick’s reunion. Also nominated for his performance, Claude Rains plays his character to the tune of the tides. With the Nazi presence, he searches for people attempting to flee for America. When around Rick, he serves as a friend and protector. Dooley Wilson plays the important role of adding significant musical interludes to express the emotion of the film.
Michael Curtiz’s classic film represents the challenges of living within the Nazi range during World War II. Casablanca was a city that served as a transition point for people trying to escape the growing threats in Europe and travel to America. While the opportunity was there, it was not easy to get papers to approve one’s transport. When a courier’s letters are stolen and find their way to Rick, he became a man with more power than he initially realized. While suspicion existed for Rick’s past, he maintained a consistent neutrality that took away most of the attention for his activities. Ilsa served as an instant shakeup of his world. Even though he seemingly had no intentions of using the papers for anything, the stirred-up emotions created a new challenge for his future. Regardless of his decision of whether to reestablish his relationship with Ilsa, a spark was rekindled in his heart for combating the oppressive and abusive powers plaguing the world.
There is a lot of controversy about the value of this film. While many of the major critics and organizations actually rate this as one of the best films of all time (the American Film Institute listed it as #2 and the Writers Guild of America rated the screenplay as the #1 of film history), the average viewer has struggled with choosing the same ratings. Many of the concerns include the acting styles of both Bogart and Bergman as over-emoted, the slow start to the storyline and the extra scene after the plane takes off. In reality, many of these reviews ignore the disconnect of time between the original release of the film and the evolution of film over the past 100 years. Casablanca was a fantastic film for its time and has influenced American culture more than people realize. Significant quotes (like “here’s looking at you, kid” and “of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine”) have weaved their way into other films’ and media’s scripts. Scenes like the airport and the songs like When Time Goes By have inspired other writers in the developing their stories.
Casablanca is truly one of the greats and should be on everyone’s must watch list for greatest films of all time.
Dan’s Rating: 5.0/5