Friday, March 06, 2009


Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942) [10]

Casablanca is more than likely the greatest film of the classic Hollywood studio system. What more can be said about a film that has so many moments and lines that have become iconic in the history of American film? It is perhaps all the fawning over it that has kept me from seeing it over all these years. Casablanca lives up to its reputation because all of its elements work so well together. The old studio system didn't always create a product as smooth as this, where everything from the casting of the stars to the screenplay perfectly fit together. Of course there's Bogart and Bergman but the supporting performances are just as memorable, especially Claude Rains as Captain Renault. The screenplay, which has received the status over the years as one of the greatest ever written, is great because it contains a little bit of everything. Adventure, exotic locales, romance, noir, and the memorable quotes make it something more than just the standard Hollywood product of the era. That the film has such an anti-Nazi overtone was a little bit surprising since that's very rarely mentioned when discussing the film. It's more the political and noir elements that make the screenplay work, above the romance between Bogart and Bergman. Bogart plays typical Bogart and Bergman isn't that great. If this had just been a romance about Rick and Ilsa, Casablanca would have been another forgettable feature from the 40s. It's well rounded nature has helped it thrive over the years and it stands as a gem from a bygone era.

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