Saturday, 26 April 2014

Casablanca (1942)

I doubt this movie needs much introduction: it's a multi-Oscar winner, and regularly appears on 'greatest films of all time' lists.  It wasn't necessarily expected to have quite such an impact when it was being made.  It was an A-list movie, with top stars, but there were hundreds of such movies being made every year.

No doubt the film profited by having its release right as the Allies were invading north Africa, but even without that advantage it seems likely that the combination of snappy dialogue, artful photography, and stellar performances would have lifted this film out of the pack.  Bogart is excellent as the wounded and angry Rick, but this is far from a one man show: everyone brings their A-game.

The film is set in Vichy-controlled Casablanca (logically enough, given the title).  This is a stopping off point for refugees fleeing with Third Reich.  It's also the home of Rick, a cynical, hard-bitten American who 'doesn't stick his neck out for anyone'.  Anyone except the woman about to walk through his bar's front door, that is.

Rick will soon find himself forced to choose between love and honor: both things he thought he'd given up for good.  Along the way, he and the other characters will exchange snappy rejoinders, clever patter, and heartfelt speeches.  The dialogue brings the real spark to this film, along with a truly joyous rendition of La Marseillaise.  Darn those French and their actually having an anthem worth listening to!

This is a very good film, and if you haven't seen it, you should.

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