Author Topic: Casablanca (1942)  (Read 2052 times)

Offline Antares

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Casablanca (1942)
« on: December 17, 2009, 02:24:43 AM »
Casablanca





Year: 1942
Film Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures, First National Pictures
Genre: Romance, Classic, Drama
Length: 103 Min.

Director
Michael Curtiz (1886)

Writing
Julius J. Epstein (1909)...Screenwriter
Philip G. Epstein (1909)...Screenwriter
Howard Koch (1901)...Screenwriter

Producer
Hal B. Wallis (1899)
Jack L. Warner (1892)

Cinematographer
Arthur Edeson (1891)

Music
Max Steiner (1888)...Composer

Stars
Humphrey Bogart (1899) as Rick Blaine
Ingrid Bergman (1915) as Ilsa Lund
Paul Henreid (1905) as Victor Laszlo
Claude Rains (1889) as Captain Renault
Conrad Veidt (1893) as Major Strasser
Sydney Greenstreet (1879) as Signor Ferrari
Peter Lorre (1904) as Ugarte
S. Z. Sakall (1884) as Carl

Review
       Have you ever made such a horrendous mistake that you wished for a ‘do over’? One has to think that actor George Raft felt this same exact thing over 65 years ago. In the late 30’s, Raft was one of the ‘golden trio’ at Warner Bros. pictures, alongside James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson. He had reached a level of power at the studio that gave him first right of refusal for scripts that he did not like. In 1941, he turned down two seminal crime dramas, High Sierra and The Maltese Falcon. The former, because he wasn’t keen on having his character killed in the end, and the latter, because it was to be director John Huston’s maiden directorial debut. Raft theorized that he couldn’t risk his career on a rube, who was only known at the time, as actor Walter Huston’s son.

       With Cagney making films under his own production company, and Robinson trying to steer away from gangster films altogether, the way was set for Humphrey Bogart to prove he had what it took to carry a film in the leading role. Having played the slimy, backstabbing thug in almost all of Cagney and Robinson’s pictures, Bogart was used to having his character killed, so High Sierra was tailor-made for him. When it proved to be a success, Jack Warner offered him Raft’s second refusal and The Maltese Falcon secured for Bogart, the same perks that were afforded to the other three actors. Knowing that fame in Hollywood was fickle, he quickly grasped at Raft’s third script refusal, and the rest was history. Raft read the mostly incomplete script for Casablanca and thought the film would be a dud. And as they say, the ‘third times a charm’, and what a charm it would be, as Bogart slipped into what would become his most iconic role, that of Rick Blaine, the charming, rogue mercenary.

       At first, no one associated with the project could foresee what was about to take place after the film’s release. The original script was, for the most part, thrown out, and new dialog added as the shoot progressed. What would soon become the most quoted dialog in the history of film owes itself to the expertise of the actors who delivered these lines with a style and grace that would make the film an instant classic. And no two actors were better matched to enliven the verbal repartee associated with this film than the pairing of Humphrey Bogart & Claude Rains. Onscreen, Bogart had no rival when it came to embodying a character with the qualities necessary to make the viewer empathize, envy and rally behind. His low-key, suave demeanor helps to elicit from the audience the desire to ‘eventually wind up at Rick’s place’ as Captain Renault so memorably declares.

       On the other side of the coin, the role of Captain Renault, as portrayed by Claude Rains, is the stick that stirs Bogart’s drink. Without his character, Casablanca is just another B-movie love story. He brings to the role of Captain Renault a charming rogue persona that is witty, endearing and most enjoyable to watch. Apart from the other actors in the film, he is the only member of the cast who can verbally spar with Bogart and continually deliver the knockout punch, which steals scene after scene from Bogart. It is truly amazing that he did not win the Academy Award for Best Supporting actor that year. Rains has been largely forgotten by modern day audiences, but in his day, he was one of the most successful character actors in Hollywood and his resumé of films pepper the AFI 100 Greatest films of all time.

       All in all, this is a must see film for anyone interested in film history or for anyone who just likes to see a well acted and directed story. Casablanca deserves its place in the upper echelon of film classics and will remain there as long as movies remain our top choice for escapism entertainment.


Ratings Criterion
5 Stars - The pinnacle of film perfection and excellence.
4 ½ Stars - Not quite an immortal film, yet a masterpiece in its own right.
4 Stars - Historically important film, considered a classic.
3 ½ Stars - An entertaining film that’s fun or engaging to watch.
3 Stars – A good film that’s worth a Netflix venture.
2 ½ Stars - Borderline viewable.
2 Stars – A bad film that may have a moment of interest.
1 ½ Stars – Insipid, trite and sophomoric, and that's its good points.
1 Star – A film so vacuous, it will suck 2 hours from the remainder of your life.
½ Star - A gangrenous and festering pustule in the chronicles of celluloid.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2010, 11:41:38 PM by Antares »

Najemikon

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Re: Casablanca (1942)
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2009, 02:40:43 AM »
On the other side of the coin, the role of Captain Renault, as portrayed by Claude Rains, is the stick that stirs Bogart’s drink.

A great line! And another great review, Antares.  :thumbup: I did one here for Casablanca that may interest you, though it was a little rushed as I was doing it for the Oscar marathon last year.

Karsten often says he isn't interested in older movies, but I'd always encourage him and anyone else with similar feelings to give this a try at least, perhaps more than any other. It's just so damn watchable, even now. It's A Wonderful Life is similar in that respect, but somehow I think people make assumptions about Casablanca without ever seeing it.

Renault is possibly my favourite supporting character in any film. Such a wonderful combination of role and actor. His delivery here is just sublime!


Offline Antares

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Re: Casablanca (1942)
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2009, 02:49:48 AM »
You and I, apart from your somewhat misguided fascination for Tarantino  :whistle:  :laugh:, have the same taste in film.

Najemikon

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Re: Casablanca (1942)
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2009, 02:53:10 PM »
You and I, apart from your somewhat misguided fascination for Tarantino  :whistle:  :laugh:, have the same taste in film.

Oh I'm sure there are a few other cracks, if you're so blinkered on QT...  :tease:  What about auteur Kevin Smith?  ;)