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Drama, War, Romance
IMDB rating:
Michael Curtiz
Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine
Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa Lund
Paul Henreid as Victor Laszlo
Claude Rains as Captain Renault
Conrad Veidt as Major Strasser
Sydney Greenstreet as Signor Ferrari
Peter Lorre as Ugarte
Joy Page as Annina Brandel
John Qualen as Berger
Leonid Kinskey as Sascha
Curt Bois as Pickpocket
Storyline: In World War II Casablanca, Rick Blaine, exiled American and former freedom fighter, runs the most popular nightspot in town. The cynical lone wolf Blaine comes into the possession of two valuable letters of transit. When Nazi Major Strasser arrives in Casablanca, the sycophantic police Captain Renault does what he can to please him, including detaining a Czechoslovak underground leader Victor Laszlo. Much to Rick's surprise, Lazslo arrives with Ilsa, Rick's one time love. Rick is very bitter towards Ilsa, who ran out on him in Paris, but when he learns she had good reason to, they plan to run off together again using the letters of transit. Well, that was their original plan....
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Casablanca is the closest thing to a perfect movie that has ever been made. It's the perfect length to tell its story but not drag, and it has suspense, humor, drama, romance, music, and everything else you would want in a movie. Screw the AFI-Casablanca is the single best movie ever to come out of Hollywood and I doubt it will ever be topped.
I said, "22"!
There's nothing like a Romantic Classic, and since the AFI recently named "Casablanca" as the Number One romance film of all time, here's yet another review for the Film That Has It All. As the IMDB tagline says, "They had a date with fate!"

"Casablanca" will take you away to a time and a place where good guys (Humphrey Bogart's Rick Blaine, who runs "Rick's Café Americain," an oasis with the best music in town) were good, though flawed, bad guys were nasty Nazis, and beautiful women were, well, in a word, Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman). The closeups of her alone are worth the price of admission.

Based on a play, "Everybody Comes to Rick's Place," the movie's dialogue is spectacular -- Rick and Louie's (Claude Rains) banter in particular is very funny, witty, and fast-paced, with no fat. The film's black-and-white texture and the exotic setting in Casablanca paint a picture of a time and a place where things fall into the grey areas in a world starkly divided between Axis and Allies. The quirky market scenes and the opening narration (with the map, to show you exactly where Casablanca is located) set the stage for the events to follow.

Claude Rains and Peter Lorre (who makes an early exit) complement Bogie perfectly, and the supporting cast -- Paul Henreid as Czech underground resistance leader (and Ilsa's husband) Victor Laszlo, the German couple trying to get to America, and Sydney Greenstreet as Ferrari, the city's black marketeer -- are nothing short of spectacular. Every actor in this movie makes their characters 100 percent real.

The entire plot -- based on Laszlo's mysterious entry into Casablanca and whether he will be able to get out to carry on his fight against the Germans -- is riveting. Perhaps the most incredible thing about the movie is when it was made: 1942, in the heart of World War II, when the outcome was not assured.

There are so many great and memorable lines in this movie that it's impossible to list them all. It is worth noting that Rick never actually says "Play it again, Sam" -- he says, "Play it, Sam!" in a drunken stupor after Ilsa returns to his "gin joint." Louie's (Rains) line, "I'm shocked, shocked, that there is gambling in this establishment!" is almost a cliché today for things that are not really that surprising. I love the roulette scene, where Rick sets up a win to help a Bulgarian émigré, and his line "Have you tried 22? I said, 22!" is also one of my personal favorites.

And of course, there's The Song: "As Time Goes By" -- the one Ilsa, and Rick, wanted to hear again and again -- is one of the most memorable in the history of film.

"Casablanca" is about politics; it's got political intrigue, tons of hard drinking, a love triangle to end all love triangles, a few choice fight scenes (where the nasties get theirs good), and about the choices we make in hard, crucial situations in life. But "Casablanca" is, more than anything else, a love story, and without giving away too much, ultimately about one of life's greatest lessons: Letting Go. The flashback scene to Rick and Ilsa's years in Paris is one of the most memorable in all of film. The airport ending is classic and will give you chills -- be sure to bring a hankie!

Note: Keep an eye out for "Casablanca" on the Big Screen in the summer -- it's a favorite for the outdoor free film fests and a perfect movie for a date or with family & friends! (Probably teens & up, younger kids wouldn't get it.)
For years and years (I'm 52), I've always heard how great this movie is. I've really never gotten into old movies a whole bunch, so I've never seen Bogart much at all. SO - it was time to finally watch it.

Yawn... For starters, Bogart just wasn't that good of an actor. Scream and cry all you want, but that's an unbiased fact. Secondly, the story line was about as average as you could get. Finally, I seriously had trouble staying awake in this one. Cannot for the life of me see what so many others see in it.

A sad disappointment. I'll give it a 4, as I honestly would have to say it's slightly below average...
Better than you can even imagine!
For whatever reason I kept putting off watching this film. I knew so much about it, including its ending, and for years meant to see it, but thought, "what's the point?" After watching it last night I remembered what made me a movie fan in the first place. Movies like Casablanca. I was astounded with how influential this picture was. I knew Raiders of the Lost Ark was inspired by the old Saturday Afternoon Serials, but I had NO IDEA how much it had taken from "Casablanca." The shots, the cinematography, the staging of characters, even the clothing. So many movies were inspired by this film (some were direct rip-offs). I may go as far as to say that this is the most influential film ever made (along with Citizen Kane)! I absolutely loved it. No matter what type of film you favor, you'll find something to like about this movie. Don't make the same mistake I did and put it off for decades. It's well worth a rental or even a purchase!
Casablanca, ahh Romance, Bravery, Loyalty, Decency!
Some have commented that movies like "American Beauty" or "Fight Club" should be listed above this on the AFI list of movies. I loved both those films but there is no way you can compare a modern Babbitt (sad and pitiful as he is) or some post-modern fantasizing about how to get out of your credit-card bill with someone giving up Ingrid Bergman (!) and the coolest job in the world to go fight Nazis in the desert.

I think loving this film is a matter of wanting to see a universality on film that speaks to the better angels of our nature, not just the pretty decent ones, but qualities of honor that are hard to find in modern film.

Also Bogie Kicks *ss. And the Love Story is de-voon.

I remember when I made my best friend watch it (we were 15 and I'd already seen it a dozen times). As Louis and Rick walk away and the music comes up she smacked me and yelled "He lets her leave?? HOW could you let me watch this and he let's her LEAVE?!"

The movie is poetry. Plain and simple.

and remember: there are vultures, vultures everywhere.
The lasting attraction of this film must be its seemingly effortless use of the medium. We know that Casablanca was at the time one of dozens of "cardboard cutout" features from Warner Brothers' World War Two domestic audience assembly line. This film was not intended to be a classic. What happened? One can watch this movie without sound and marvel at the human struggle in northern Africa. Did Michael Curtiz perfect his directorial technique during the silent film era? Obviously his silent film experience is evident. Why watch Casablanca with the sound off? One would miss the orchestration by Max Steiner and vocal by Arthur Dooley. The dialogue is very rich, the plot compelling and acting perfect. Someone will try to convince you that this whole effort was well planned. My understanding is that it was not. This film is an accident that happens only once every few generations and it is a joy to experience again and again.
Greatest Film on Earth
Wow! The first time I watched Casablanca in school. But I didn't get to see all of it. So I rented it and watched it at least 5 times in one night. It's so great and I just love Ingrid Bergman playing Ilsa Lund. Her appearance and her lines. My favorite line of her: "You know how much I loved you, how much I still love you" But in general I think this movie just rocks the cinema. I have seen it once on the big screen and it was so different from watching it on TV. I bought that film in two versions (english+german) and I'm planning on buying it in italian, too. I can only say that it's the best movie I've ever seen and that it's my favorite one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Bergman's the best!
Casablanca, a spiritual experience!
Lauren Bacall was wonderful as a parallel universe. Too bad it was Ingrid Bergman who ended up with the role, I just couldn't buy the Bogie'n Bergman love story and would have loved to see Lauren instead! So I gave this movie a 4, as soon as I was done watching. Because Bergman failed to convince me and I cringed at their Paris scenes. I mean Bogie, romantic?! Are you kiddin' me?! (I was even more shocked to see Bogie smile!) I was bored through the story, the men's thick black eyeliner looked like an ethnic joke, their white eyeliner was a little less distracting, but I've seen worse, so I decided what the heck, I'm 1/4th through this movie might as well keep going since it's not like it's starring *insert your most insipid actress and buffoon of an actor here* And OK, since I'm well-endowed in the "suspend disbelief" department, I'll pretend I'll buy Ingmar Bergman or whatever as the love interest.

Since some of the dialog was amazing, I thought I'd actually give this a 7. For effort. Plus the "last night was so long ago/tonight? I don't plan that far ahead" exchange was awesome. (I'm gonna have to memorize these lines, I'm sure to use them sometime!) And the music was not bad. So what the heck, it doesn't deserve a 7 but I'm not in a bad mood tonight and it's Christmas, right?! But what the **** happened to "Play it again, Sam!"? I never once heard it and I felt ripped off throughout the movie! I heard "Play it, Sam" Who misquotes a movie, really? OUTRAGEOUS!!! Just for that, I felt like I needed a refund, and let me tell you, that 7 was quickly turning into a 5. Plus I'd seen the final scene, the Bogie/Bergman exchange, final scene, it says so on You Tube. Right? So who cares, I already know how it ends.


It wasn't the final scene after all! WTH??! After years of believing that's how it ended, now they ripoff the ending too by adding some insipid action? Couldn't they have been done at that scene since it's *supposed* to be the only end anyone cares about? (After all, it's the only one "they" ever show!! What else could there be, really?!) Well, in the end--and sorry to put it this way if you kinda like this film--but what do you think I could possibly give this sorry little B&W film maker's menial effort of a wanna-be movie? Well, if you should know I only gave it a mere TEN! That's right! Was I glad I stuck with it till the end! It got better and better until it became one of the best movies ever! I didn't expect the surprise ending, that's for sure! Blown away!

This one is definitely worth a re-watch sometime soon, minus my "Dancing-with-the-Stars-judge-raising-score-on-a-panel-every-5-secs" attitude. I don't think I've ever seen a movie where I went from "who gives a c^^p about you?" to absolutely blown away by the characters and their turn of events. In a sense I went from caring about Rick just about as little as Rick himself did to making a 180 degree turnabout. Sort of like Rick did at the end! Amazing!! And Ingrid Bergman was indeed good, certainly not my first choice for Ilsa--still would have loved to see Bacall--but she held her own. Here's looking at you, Kid! It's like after the movie was over, I came to the realization that I had been a Rick of sorts throughout. And the movie took me through my own 180.

Does everyone feel like this when watching this movie? Is it supposed to turn us all into Ricks and then flip-flop us around leaving us utterly dazed and not knowing what hit us there for a second? Or is it just me? It almost felt like a spiritual experience! Almost! It was simply amazing! 10/10. Come what may, I'll always have Casablanca in my DVD collection!
We'll Always Have Casablanca
Spoilers ahead, but then again, who isn't familiar with Casablanca, even if one hasn't seen it?

I've been watching 'Casablanca' over and over again since I bought the Special Edition DVD, and is there any film out there one can watch again and again without ever being tired of it? And does any film appeal to a broader audience? Just everything about it seems to be as close to perfection as it only can be.

But what exactly is so special about it? Is it its great genre mix, never equaled by another film? When we think of 'Casablanca' first, we remember it as a romantic film (well, most of us do). But then again, its also a drama involving terror, murder and flight. One can call it a character study, centering on Rick. And there are quite a few moments of comedic delight, just think of the pickpocket ("This place is full of vultures, vultures everywhere!") or the elderly couple on the last evening before their emigration to the US ("What watch?").

But 'Casablanca' is not only great as a whole, it still stands on top if we break it apart and look at single lines of dialog, scenes or performances alone. Is there any other film which has more quotable dialog than 'Casablanca'? 'Pulp Fiction' is on my mind here, and 'All About Eve' and 'Sunset Blvd.' come close, too, but still I think 'Casablanca' tops everything else. And not only is the dialog great, it's unforgettably delivered, especially by Humphrey Bogart ("I was misinformed.") and Claude Rains ("I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on here"). Many of scenes have become a part of film history; the duel of 'Die Wacht am Rhein' and 'La Marseillaise' is probably one of the greatest scenes ever shot (the only I can think of that would rival it for the #1 spot is Hynkel and the globe from Chaplin's 'The Great Dictator'), and the last scene is probably even familiar to the few people who've never seen 'Casablanca'. Am I the only one who is absolutely convinced that the film wouldn't have become what it is today if Rick and Ilsa would have ended up as the lucky couple?

About the performances: So much has been said about the uniqueness of Humphrey Bogart's and Ingrid Bergman's chemistry as Rick and Ilsa, about Claude Rains' terrific turn as Renault, about the scene-stealing performances by Peter Lorre (one of the 10 all-time greatest actors) as Ugarte and Sydney Greenstreet as Ferrari and about Dooley Wilson stopping the show as Sam. I'd love to emphasize here two other performances, one that is not mentioned quite as often and one which is blatantly overlooked: Conrad Veidt as Major Strasser had a really difficult task here, as his character is the only evil one, but still Strasser is not a one-dimensional character, and it took more than 50 years until another actor gave an equally (maybe even more) impressive performance as a Nazi, Ralph Fiennes in 'Schindler's List'. But why no one ever mentions S. K. Sakall, who plays Carl, the jolly waiter at Rick's Café Américain, is beyond me. He has definitely more screen time than Lorre, Greenstreet and Wilson, and probably about as much as Veidt, and he's a joy whenever he's on the screen. I simply love his reaction when the pickpocket ("Vultures everywhere!") accidentally bumps into him, or the reaction to the "What watch"-dialog. Or how he says he gave Strasser the best table, "being a German, he would have taken it anyway". His performance is simply criminally overlooked.

So is there a weakest link in 'Casablanca'? Every film, no matter how close to perfection, has a minor flaw or two, so one can find them in 'Casablanca', too, if one really tries hard. So yes, one might ask how much sense the entire mumbo jumbo about the letters of transit makes. One might point out that Paul Henreid, although his performance is certainly good, doesn't come close to the greatness of any of his co-stars. However, the film is so close to perfection that I'm almost ashamed that I'm so desperately trying to find less-than-perfect elements.

So whatever films will come, how many sequels will overflow the screen, and how much junk we will have to sit through, one thing is certain if we're desperate to see a great film: We'll always have Casablanca!
The Fundamental Things Apply...
"Casablanca" remains Hollywood's finest moment, a film that succeeds on such a vast scale not because of anything experimental or deliberately earthshaking in its design, but for the way it cohered to and reaffirmed the movie-making conventions of its day. This is the film that played by the rules while elevating the form, and remains the touchstone for those who talk about Hollywood's greatness.

It's the first week in December, 1941, and in the Vichy-controlled African port city of Casablanca, American ex-pat Rick Blaine runs a gin joint he calls "Rick's Cafe Americaine." Everybody comes to Rick's, including thieves, spies, Nazis, partisans, and refugees trying to make their way to Lisbon and, eventually, America. Rick is a tough, sour kind of guy, but he's still taken for a loop when fate hands him two sudden twists: A pair of unchallengeable exit visas, and a woman named Ilsa who left him broken-hearted in Paris and now needs him to help her and her resistance-leader husband escape.

Humphrey Bogart is Rick and Ingrid Bergman is Ilsa, in roles that are archetypes in film lore. They are great parts besides, very multilayered and resistant to stereotype, and both actors give career performances in what were great careers. He's mad at her for walking out on him, while she wants him to understand her cause, but there's a lot going on underneath with both, and it all spills out in a scene in Rick's apartment that is one of many legendary moments.

"Casablanca" is a great romance, not only for being so supremely entertaining with its humor and realistic-though-exotic wartime excitement, but because it's not the least bit mushy. Take the way Rick's face literally breaks when he first sees Ilsa in his bar, or how he recalls the last time he saw her in Paris: "The Germans wore gray, you wore blue." There's a real human dimension to these people that makes us care for them and relate to them in a way that belies the passage of years.

For me, and many, the most interesting relationship in the movie is Rick and Capt. Renault, the police prefect in Casablanca who is played by Claude Rains with a wonderful subtlety that builds as the film progresses. Theirs is a relationship of almost perfect cynicism, one-liners and professions of neutrality that provide much humor, as well as give a necessary display of Rick's darker side before and after Ilsa's arrival.

But there's so much to grab onto with a film like this. You can talk about the music, or the way the setting becomes a living character with its floodlights and Moorish traceries. Paul Henreid is often looked at as a bit of a third wheel playing the role of Ilsa's husband, but he manages to create a moral center around which the rest of the film operates, and his enigmatic relationship with Rick and especially Ilsa, a woman who obviously admires her husband but can't somehow ever bring herself to say she loves him, is something to wonder at.

My favorite bit is when Rick finds himself the target of an entreaty by a Bulgarian refugee who just wants Rick's assurance that Capt. Renault is "trustworthy," and that, if she does "a bad thing" to secure her husband's happiness, it would be forgivable. Rick flashes on Ilsa, suppresses a grimace, tries to buy the woman off with a one-liner ("Go back to Bulgaria"), then finally does a marvelous thing that sets the whole second half of the film in motion without much calling attention to itself.

It's not fashionable to discuss movie directors after Chaplin and before Welles, but surely something should be said about Michael Curtiz, who not only directed this film but other great features like "Captain Blood" and "Angels With Dirty Faces." For my money, his "Adventures Of Robin Hood" was every bit "Casablanca's" equal, and he even found time the same year he made "Casablanca" to make "Yankee Doodle Dandy." When you watch a film like this, you aren't so much aware of the director, but that's really a testament to Curtiz's artistry. "Casablanca" is not only exceptionally well-paced but incredibly well-shot, every frame feeling well-thought-out and legendary without distracting from the overall story.

Curtiz was a product of the studio system, not a maverick like Welles or Chaplin, but he found greatness just as often, and "Casablanca," also a product of the studio system, is the best example. It's a film that reminds us why we go back to Hollywood again and again when we want to refresh our imaginations, and why we call it "the dream factory." As the hawker of linens tells Ilsa at the bazaar, "You won't find a treasure like this in all Morocco." Nor, for that matter, in all the world.
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