Casablanca (1942)

No matter how many times you watch Casablanca, it’s hard to take your eyes off the screen. Your ears hang onto every line of dialogue, while your eyes are bathed in the beautiful black & white cinematography. While black and white are COLORS, in Casablanca they are also main characters.

By the way, for some that would argue that black and white are not colors, but the absence of color and the blending of all colors, I would say this: leave me alone.

The story of a world at war, political machinations, treachery and loyalty, revolving around the story of two broken hearts is spell-binding. The lingering close-ups of the actors remind us that the human face can truly be a window to the soul, especially tortured ones. And bravo to directors like Michael Curtiz who aren’t afraid to let the camera linger there.

While Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Claude Rains, dominate the screen, they are unforgettably backed-up by Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Dooley Wilson, and S.Z. Sakall.

The set design, particularly Rick’s Café, is astounding. The characters wind their way thru passages, up shadowy stairs, and in nooks and crannies that perfectly frame the intrigue of their scheming.

And yet, the script reminds us that this is entertainment. Note these lines:

Ugarte: You despise me, don’t you?
Rick: If I gave you any thought I probably would.

Captain Renault: What in heaven’s name brought you to Casablanca?
Rick: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
Captain Renault: The waters? What waters? We’re in the desert.
Rick: I was misinformed.

(as Jan Brandel tries to hand Captain Renault a bribe)

Captain Renault: Oh no! Not here please! Come to my office tomorrow morning. We’ll do everything businesslike.
Jan Brandel: We’ll be there at six!
Captain Renault: I’ll be there at ten.

How do you make a great movie? Combine a good script, a good director, good actors, good production values, good cinematography, and a good soundtrack. That combination makes a great movie.

What do you get when you combine a great script, a great director, great actors, great production values, great cinematography, and a great soundtrack? You get Casablanca.


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