“Bogie's Best By Far!”
October 10th, 2012
You cannot go wrong with Casablanca!
The story is well-known: The beginning of World War II, many immigrated to North Africa and points on the African coast, in advance of the German push into France. From Casablanca, one could, with the right persuasion, hop to Lisbon (Portugal, of course) and from there, escape to America.
The film defies definition!
It's not a drama, yet there are dramatic scenes. It is not truly a love story, yet there are elements of that. It's not a statement about immigration, yet many wish to escape.
An escapee of a concentration camp and freedom fighter, Victor Laslo (Paul Henreid) finds his way into Casablanca, hoping to get a plane out and back to the USA and help the Americans (this part of the story was vague). He brings with him his wife, Ilsa, played adoringly and smartly by Ingrid Bergman.
Ilsa walks into Rick's Cafe Americane and who does she see -- the guy who she had a fling with and dumped in Paris -- and Rick (Bogart) is not over it!
Black marketeer and competitor, played devilishly by Sydney Greenstreet (Maltese Falcon), wants Rick's for himself. He also wants what Rick has -- letters of passage to America, which he could sell for a handsome profit.
Rick is torn -- he does not want to get involved with the Nazis that have invaded his bar; he does not want to help Laslo, and most of all he wants to forget Ilsa -- and can't understand why she abandoned him in Paris -- he didn't know she was married -- oops!
Peter Lorre (also with The Maltese Falcon) plays a slimy gangster who bumped off a couple of German couriers and passes their letters of transit to Rick -- who keeps them for himself!
Many famous lines and music have come from this one film: Play it Sam (no one ever said "Play it again Sam" as is rumored); "This could be the start of a beautiful friendship"; "Here's looking at you, kid;" and "We'll always have Paris."
The DVD set is great
Not only is the gorgeous black & white cleaned up and theater quality, but the second disk has film critics and film historians in the commentary, including our pal Roger Ebert, who calls this the second greatest film he's ever watched (the first is Citizen Kane).
Lauren Bacall, Bogart's son, Ingrid Bergman's daughter, everyone has a say.
A thorough overview of Bogie's films up to his death in the Fifties is gone over. The Bugs Bunny cartoon "Carrotblanca" is not to be missed.
I really enjoyed the interviews with Katherine Hepburn, Lauren Bacall and the children of Ingrid and Humphrey. The revelations of the quirks in the film, the title changes, the tempermental stars and trying to put this all together. Ingrid wanted her Cary Grant film to be a hot hit, not Casablanca. No one said Play it again, Sam. Great stuff.
See this film!