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How good is Casablanca?

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Hi all,

I was just hoping to get your opionions on the movie Casablanca. Do you think it deserves to be named as one of the best movies of all time? Is it actually as good as people say it is?

Thanks!



A system of cells interlinked
Yes

It's the best Romance film ever, period.
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It's one of the greatest Hollywood movies ever made. EVER. And much more than just the romance, it is funnier than Hell, full of memorable characters (even those with only a brief scene or two), has about three dozen quotable lines, and is damn near perfect.

I kinda wish I could see it for the very first time again. But that was about a hundred and ten viewings ago.
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You know how some films are considered classics, but you watch them, and they don't live up to their billing? Well, for me, Casablanca was one of the few classics that met the expectations I'd heaped upon it.

The thing I found most striking when I first saw it was how my perception of the final scene changed. Like most people, it was already a cliche in my mind; I know most of the dialogue, and without the rest of the film in front of it, it seemed...well, kind of corny. With the preceding scenes building up to it, though, it seems so strikingly different and appropriate.

Just talking about it makes me want to see it again. So thanks for that.



Hi all,

I was just hoping to get your opionions on the movie Casablanca. Do you think it deserves to be named as one of the best movies of all time? Is it actually as good as people say it is?

Thanks!
The cast is what makes that movie: not just the stars--Bogart, Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains (a personal favorite)--or even the top co-stars, the popular Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre--but all of the supporting players like Dooley Wilson as Sam, S.Z. “Cuddles” Sakall (who in real life was a refugee from the Nazis. His three sisters were killed in the concentration camps) as Carl, Leonid Kinskey (a drinking buddy of Bogart’s) as Sascha, Curt Bois as the pickpocket, Madeleine LeBeau as the drunk Yvonne with a crush on Rick, Joy Page (who died in April) as the troubled Annina Brandel who Rick saves from Capt. Renault via a rigged roulette wheel, and John Qualen (who had a looong career in both movies and TV and one of the best-known faces on the screen) as Berger a member of the French underground. Seeing the picture now, everyone seems specially tailored for his or her role, but they were actually just contract players picked out of the studio's pool. At one time Ronald Reagan was up for Bogart's part.

Then there's the script, which was taken from a play that (I think) was never produced called Everyone Comes to Ricks (or Goes to Ricks--whatever). Again, a couple of contract screenwriters were handed the play and told to produce a movie script by a certain date, and they did.

What most impresses me and that I like most about the film is that nobody involved with it at the time from pre-production on through final editing thought it was anything but just another B movie that Hollywood cranked out like sausages. Yet the luck of the draw brought together by chance the right writers, the right story, the right stars and cast. Even the title was a matter of happenstance. The working title for the film was was the same as the play, which no one really liked. Then just before its release, US soldiers joined the rest of the Allies in the invasion of North Africa. It was the first big campaign for US soldiers in World War II, and the newspapers were filled daily with reports from war correspondents. And most of those reports were datelined Casablanca. Okay, here's a North African name that American movie goers are familar with, and here's a film set in North Africa, so the title was changed.

I also liked that the movie was filmed on the cheap mostly on movie sets. The scene where the German officers land at Casablanca was actually shot at the local airport with the control tower in the background. Later there's another airport scene where Bogart is saying goodbye to Bergman. But it's shot on a sound stage with a scaled down model of an airplane in the back ground. So to get some realistic movement around the plane, the director dressed several midgets in overalls and have them "preparing" the plane for takeoff! Now to take all those pieces of luck and improvision (including going back after shooting was completed to add that final scene that everyone remembers) and produce a timeless classic movie, well, that's Hollywood at its best.



This has always been a film i've been told to watch, especially studying film but consciously avoided watching (maybe to be different), i even avoiding watching it when it was a core film on my Cult Cinema unit. I kinda skimmed through rufnek's post but think he picked up what i've heard on it, Umberto Eco has written a particularly interesting essay regarding it, and how it's become a Cult film. Much of it refers to a sense of 'rickityness' wherein it's flaws add to the sense of charm. Anyway, i have it on DVD now so in turn it will get watched after the numerous other classics i have piled up.
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A system of cells interlinked
Good post, Ruf. Claude Rains is fantastic, and one of my favorite actors that seemed to populate many great films back then. A fantastic character actor. One of the best ever, actually.



Good post, Ruf. Claude Rains is fantastic, and one of my favorite actors that seemed to populate many great films back then. A fantastic character actor. One of the best ever, actually.
Thanks!

Rains also was a star and even the romantic lead in some of his films, so he didn't always get second billing as a character actor. But he could play so many characters, literally from Devil to Angel, so well. And would Bogart, Cary Grant, Bette Davis, John Garfield, Paul Muni, and other top stars have been as great in certain roles if they hadn't had Rains to play off of?

Another favorite actor who played so many good roles was J. Carrol Nash, who must have played a member of every ethnic group except black during his career.



A system of cells interlinked
I also really like Elisha Cook Jr.. He has played many a memorable roll, as well. The Big Sleep, The Killing, The Maltese Falcon, and his wonderful turn in Shane come to mind, as well as his role in Polanski's Rosemary's Baby (I know you don't much care for it, but Cook is good here).

Alas, he wasn't in Casablanca, so I am off topic...

As you were!



"Casablanca" is one of the greatest films of all time. Simple...as...that.
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You know how some films are considered classics, but you watch them, and they don't live up to their billing? Well, for me, Casablanca was one of the few classics that met the expectations I'd heaped upon it.

The thing I found most striking when I first saw it was how my perception of the final scene changed. Like most people, it was already a cliche in my mind; I know most of the dialogue, and without the rest of the film in front of it, it seemed...well, kind of corny. With the preceding scenes building up to it, though, it seems so strikingly different and appropriate.

Just talking about it makes me want to see it again. So thanks for that.
I pretty much agree with everything you say. I want to watch it again too
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So many good movies, so little time.
Without a doubt one of the best. Gets better with each viewing.

In addition to being one of the best romance films ever made, it is also one of the best propaganda war films ever made. I still get chills in the scene where they sing La Marseillaise.
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Just talking about it makes me want to see it again.
Me too
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You know how some films are considered classics, but you watch them, and they don't live up to their billing? Well, for me, Casablanca was one of the few classics that met the expectations I'd heaped upon it.

The thing I found most striking when I first saw it was how my perception of the final scene changed. Like most people, it was already a cliche in my mind; I know most of the dialogue, and without the rest of the film in front of it, it seemed...well, kind of corny. With the preceding scenes building up to it, though, it seems so strikingly different and appropriate.

Just talking about it makes me want to see it again. So thanks for that.
No problem! It's one of the few classics that I havent seen yet so needless to say im relishing the thought of seeing it!! I was a bit worried about it not living up to the hype...but it seems that my fears are not grounded!



I also really like Elisha Cook Jr.. He has played many a memorable roll, as well. The Big Sleep, The Killing, The Maltese Falcon, and his wonderful turn in Shane come to mind, as well as his role in Polanski's Rosemary's Baby (I know you don't much care for it, but Cook is good here).

Alas, he wasn't in Casablanca, so I am off topic...

As you were!
Cook is never off topic! I think he played the most interesting character by far in The Big Sleep. And not only the most interesting character but probably the best actor in the cast of The Killing. Even late in his career when he'd play the next victim in some cheesy horror film, he was worth watching.



A system of cells interlinked
Ah, yes. I had forgotten his turn in Salem's Lot,mostly because that isn't a film I deem worth revisiting, well, ever. Alas, Cook makes it worth watching again, perhaps...



I really wish I could see this on the big screen, it must be magic.
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I've seen Casablanca over ten times in a theatre, and yep, 7th, you nailed it. The communal experience of Casablanca is a love-in. People like Pyro who say they're afraid to watch it really get to me. Do you have any idea what you are missing? Sure, it's only a movie. I've shown it to my students in high school and many of them hate it, but they tune out after the globe starts to turn in the first scene after the opening credits, but these are people who only pay attention to a movie if someone is f**king on screen, getting their heads blown off, or doing drugs. Casablanca will always show real people and the way they react to life-and-death situations. I just find that most "kids" today, who blow off Casablanca would never confess responsibility for Jack. "He made me do it!" "I didn't do it!" Yeah, you guys are so "macho", but Rick is more macho in his Pinkie Finger than you could ever be, unless you settle down and learn from the Master.

Here's an example of why Casablanca kicks other classic movies' asses:


I also have to rebut rufnek's idea that Casablanca was a B-movie. It may have been bought and considered a B-movie when Ronald Reagan was attached to the project, but Bogart, fresh from the Oscar-nominated The Maltese Falcon, bigtime, imported star Ingrid Bergman, and A-director Michael Curtiz, who had directed many of Warner Bros. highest-grossing films in the previous 10 years, definitely proves that when the film was shot it was meant to be a class production. Now, whether they thought it was award-worthy is another story. The script kept changing on a daily basis. Even so, when Holden says it has 30 memorable, quotable lines, he's lowballing it by half!
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