I’ve finally watched Casablanca! After Gone with the Wind and Singin’ in the Rain I’ll finally be able to call myself a film fan. Don’t worry, they’re on the list, and GWTW is on my DVD shelf, so watch this space. There are many films – these three included – that are held with such high regard in the cinematic community – nay, the world – that one cannot possibly expect to leave the film having had expectations met and a smile on the face, so I went in expecting nothing but misquoted famous lines, romantic clinches and a bitter sense of disappointment, yet when those closing credits rolled the sense of elation tingling up my spine cannot be exaggerated. What we have here is more than a film, it’s a landmark in history.
Humphrey Bogart is of course Rick, owner of Rick’s Cafe American in Casablanca, French Morocco around the outbreak of World War 2. Bogey set the template for cynics on screen, sticking his neck out for nobody but those that will help him along. Rarely is there a moment when he isn’t drinking, smoking or both. The story involves a concentration camp escapee and secret documents containing a letter of transit allowing a safe departure from the town, but what you’re really here for is the script. Everyone knows the classics, “Here’s looking at you kid” “all the gin joints…” and “we’ll always have Paris” (“play it again, Sam” is never actually uttered) but the lesser known phrases are just as good, if not better: “I have given him the best, knowing he is German and would take it anyway” “this gun is pointed right at your head”/”that is my least vulnerable spot”.
Long scenes make the film seem longer than it is (for a classic it is surprisingly sleight at only 102 minutes) and Ingrid Bergman wears a distractingly terrible blouse for much of the film, but if yuo haven’t seen this film, I urge you to do so soon.I think I’ll go watch it again.