Directed By: Michael Curtiz
Written By: Julius and Philip Epstein
I was still in high school when I fell in love with this movie, which I think speaks volume about how good the movie is. It is a classic that can still find an audience 60 years later in the youth of film loving America. I have heard this called one of the greatest movies ever made and when you see it I think that it backs up the statement. This movie stars an iconic actor synonymous with a film era, a beautiful female lead, great supporting actors, and a fantastic story. Casablanca is about love and loss, heartache, desperation, overcoming emotion, and standing up for what is right. It’s a fantastic and inspiring film that also has a political message about a lesser talked about WWII problem.
During World War II there was a path that refugees took while trying desperately to escape the war and the Nazi concentration camps. This path is outlined in the beginning of the film and it leads right to Casablanca, where people have to wait until money or influence can get them on a plane to the next stop on the way to safety in America. Humphrey Bogart plays Rick, an American who runs a nightclub in Casablanca. Rick is a popular and somewhat influential man in Casablanca. He is a man scarred by a broken heart and turned cynical for reasons we don’t know at first. Rick is content to mind his own business and stay out of politics until a very famous political refugee reaches Casablanca. Paul Henreid plays Victor Laszlo, a person of great importance to the French resistance and the Nazis really want to stop him from reaching America. To Rick’s shock Laszlo is accompanied by the woman who broke him, the long-lost love that turned him into the cynical man that he is. Ingrid Bergman plays Ilsa, who was Rick’s woman in another life, but left him suddenly and took his heart with her. The story that goes on from there is captivating and incredible. There are other notable roles in the film as well, Claude Rains is very good as Captain Renault. Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet also make great cameos in the film.
Every time I watch this movie I am reminded about how much I love it. It really is a perfect movie. It was made during a time when studios still owned actors and Humphrey Bogart was Warner Brother’s guy. Bogart has an interesting story behind him. Bogart appeared in something like 40 movies as an extra as he slowly made his way to the top, playing hitmen and mobsters usually. Warner Brothers didn’t think he had what it took to be a leading man, especially in a romantic film like Casablanca. The guy does look great in a tux though, and he made smoking look so cool. It should come as no surprise that he eventually died of lung cancer, but he wouldn’t have been the same without the smokes, they were part of who he was. I have always identified with the character he plays in this film. Rick Blaine had a great influence on the person I was when I was 16-18 and there are still elements of his character surviving in my persona today. It’s from Rick Blaine that I learned the power of women. Women hold all the power in reality, they can take a lively man and turn him into a shell by capturing his heart. You can have other women, just as Rick did, but none of them matter. No other woman really matters anymore when one captured your heart and made off with it. That woman completes you and without her you are a different person. All men who have loved and loss can appreciate this film because we know what Rick is going through.
I have mentioned before that I was raised by movies, in nearly every way the characters that I have watched and studied have made me who I am today. This movie specifically taught me many things when I had a lot of things I needed to learn. What makes it such a special movie is that watching it now I can see there is even more I could learn from this film. It really is a great movie and I hope I have talked you into giving it a chance if you haven’t seen it. This is a great movie and it is more than worth your time.
Honestly, you should already know the value of this film. A true classic. Here are some memorable quotes you probably already know, just maybe didn’t know where they were from.
“Here’s Looking At You Kid.” – Humphrey Bogart
“Major Strasser has been shot. Round up the usual suspects.” – Claude Rains
“Play It Sam. Play As Time Goes By.” – Ingrid Bergman
“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world she walks into mine.” – Humphrey Bogart
“Louis, I think this is the beginning for a beautiful friendship.” – Humphrey Bogart
“If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not on it, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But soon and for the rest of your life.” – Humphrey Bogart
“Kiss me. Kiss me as though it were the last time.” – Ingrid Bergman
“Ilsa, I’m no good at being noble. But it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.” – Humphrey Bogart
NEXT MOVIE: Casino (1995)