Movie Classic: Casablanca

by Jen

-Directed by: Michael Curtiz

– Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains, Paul Henreid

There are really good love stories, and then there’s this one. Casablanca is the movie that many others have tried, and failed to duplicate and there is a list of reasons why. Let’s start with the obvious two. Ingrid Bergman is almost universally known as one of the great ladies of movies due to her knack for picking the right script and her angelic beauty. Casablanca was the only movie she made in 1942, but it proved to be well worth the effort. Opposite her was Bogart, whom reports say made little effort to know her. Even though they might not have spoken off camera, their chemistry is unmistakable. He is considered a rebel in old Hollywood history, but while he might be just that he is also a master at what he does.

Set in Casablanca in the early days of WWII, you meet Bogart as he steps into the role of Rick Blaine. Blaine is the owner of Rick’s Cafe Americain, and it’s a popular nightspot in the area. And it’s in that nightspot that the action and the yearning romance unfold. During this point in the war, France’s ruling party was closely tied to the Nazis. Thankfully though, Casablanca had maintained some semblance of freedom and it was there that people seeking to escape would go. As the movie opens, you see how corrupt and perilous the life in Casablanca can be though as local police shoot a man for not having the proper papers, and refugees negotiate with smugglers so they can eventually come to America.

In the midst of all of this is arrival of an escaped Czech resistance leader, Victor Lazlo, who is being sought by the local police and in turn the Nazis. Traveling with him is Ilsa Lund, a woman who has the power to break Rick’s rock solid heart with just a glance because they’d known each other before in Paris. Some of the most electric moments are done almost wordlessly when Bergman’s character arrives into the mix. Bogart is a master, and his broken heart is evident in his eyes. What will surprise you about Rick though is what you find out about him thanks to Ilsa. He is not how he claims to be. He can, given the right circumstances, go to the wall to help people. He is a gruff and silent hero, but when it comes down to it he does have a moral code. He just won’t willingly admit it.

This movie is considered a classic, and even called one of the greats of all time in American movie making. It’s done so for a reason. Casablanca is smooth, subtle, smart and etched with a romance you rarely see anymore. While it’s set in a bar, and there is a good deal of drinking you’ll be surprised by two things. No nudity and absolutely no profanity. At all. Yes, you read that right. What makes this film special is that it doesn’t need it. You care about Rick and you see why he loves Ilsa, and let me just say this now…the ending is one of the greatest you will ever see.

(Picture by: Yahoo! Entertainment)

-Jenn Untch
Liberty, Missouri
indigojenn at earthlink dot net
Is there a movie you’d like me to review? Let me know!

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