Friday, February 26, 2010

Film On Friday --Casablanca

On my birthday last month, I was allowed to chose which ever film I wanted to watch and it was no contest --Casablanca. Consistently rated one of the best films ever, Casablanca can be one of the films you always hear about but never watch because it can't be as good as they say. But it is. It is a film that stands the test of time.
Despite being rated as one of the best love stories of all time, it is not a romance. But it is emotionally satisfying. Every single time I watch it, tears dripped down my face. My husband has given up and just places a box of tissues near me.

There are so many reasons to watch it.

1. Humphrey Bogart plays the role he was born to play -- the disillusioned casino owner whose gruff exterior conceals a heart of gold. He has to make an impossible choice -- the love of his life who has unexpectedly reentered his life or saving a man who might be able to save the world from Nazi Germany.

2. Ingrid Bergman who plays a woman with an impossible choice. Does she put the love that she has for Rick above the duty and devotion she feels for her husband? Why did she run out on Rick in Paris? And does she deserve his hatred or his love?

3. the clever subplots and the way Humphrey Bogart's character is revealed often through the actions of others. Little asides and the well roundedness of the characters who appear on the screen for only a few seconds. This is a Big Picture which is incredibly focused but it is not a long picture and as such it holds a lot of information for series romance authors.

4. the fantastic script which has given the world so many immortal lines -- from Here's looking at you, kid and Round up the usual suspects to we'll always have Paris and Play it Sam.

5. The score which incorporates As Time Goes By, and La Marseillaise.

6. Claude Rains who plays the dissolute police chief Captain Louis Renault who has an incredible turnabout at the end.

7. The black and white footage that somehow comes to life. Woody Allen famously campaigned to keep the footage black and white rather than being colourised in the 1970s. It may be in black and white but the detail and sense of place is extraordinary. The world of the film is there and it draws you in, right down to the live parrot in the Blue Parrot. There are no special effects or fancy gadgets, just great acting in an incredible setting.

If you want to understand action/reaction watch Casablanca and pay attention to the body language. If you want to see how little details can add so much, watch Casablanca. If you want to see how conflicts can grow and change, watch Casablanca. There are reasons for its enduring popularity amongst filmmakers, and people everywhere.

If you haven't seen it, see it (better still buy the dvd so you can watch it again and again!) and see what the fuss is about. See why it is so highly rated. If you haven't seen it for awhile, grab a box of tissues and watch. You will be glad you did. It reaffirms your belief in the human spirit.


  1. Casablanca is one of my old time fav movies. As you said, it's got amazing acting, brilliant conflict and a clever script - I love it :)

    BTW - There is an hilarious Bugs Bunny cartoon - Carrotblanca - which is a must see for Casablanca fans :)

  2. Oh yes Carrotblance is great. I know it came as an extra with my dvd of Casablanca but I am a Bugs Bunny fan from way back. I used to watch it on Saturday morning tv.

    I am so glad you agree about Casablanca.

  3. I love Casablanca! A classy film with brilliant storytelling.

    Mmmm I think I know what I'll be watching this weekend.

  4. Hi,

    Absolutely fab film. Just love B&W love stories.

    Another old B&W romance that is so romatic is that of Waterloo Bridge starring Vivienne Leigh and Robert Taylor. A real need for tissues when watching this one.



  5. You nailed it, Michelle. I love old movies, but this is the best.

  6. As Liz said - the best film ever! Caroline x

  7. Aw Michelle, jeeze why haven't I done this one??? Maybe cos you did it better?

    This is such a terrific film and every time you view it something new pops out to move you or make you laugh. They reissued it, gosh, about a decade ago, and I went to see it in the cinema. It played to packed houses, which was quite astonishing really given it's age, and like most old movies that you usually watch on TV it was a real thrill to see it with an audience.

    One thing I'd forgotten is how witty it is... Every single line of that script shines. It's a real lesson in how to get a huge depth of emotion into the smallest number of words - or even just a look.

    Thanks for reminding me how much I love it all over again. One of the few movies to actually deserve a Best Picture Oscar IMHO