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Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)

1. The script is probably the greatest which Hollywood ever concocted and comes closest to the complete, utter wit level which rivals playwrights such as Oscar Wilde and Bernard Shaw. This, despite the fact that it was constantly being rewritten all the way up to the final day of shooting. Casablanca is a film with dialogue so good that many people still do not comprehend how entertaining it is because the whole thing comes across as effortlessly amusing while feigning seeming seriousness.

2. The technical acumen gathered together for the film is mind-boggling. This includes everything from Don Siegel's montages to the special effects utilizing midgets to convey proper scale, cool matte paintings, the light tower at the airport, the biff, bang, pow of the editing, the super costumes, Max Steiner's musical score, the sets of the various locations and even Sydney Greenstreet's flyswatters and Peter Lorre's haunting eyes. This is certainly the apotheosis of Curtiz's Warner Bros. career.

3. The romance is compelling in far more significant ways than the usual melodrama. The three main characters all are confused about each other's motives and it's unpredictable what will happen right up to the final scene. Yet, everything seems almost inevitable once you watch and rewatch this perfection. Take, for example, the scene where Rick gets Ilsa's letter in the rain as the train prepares to roll out of the station... how could anything ever be topped for emotional power? Look closely at Bogie's face as he tosses the "bleeding, crying" note to the ground.

4. Dooley Wilson's Sam is a hell of a singer and a perfect partner for Bogart's Rick. The scenes where Sam sings "As Time Goes By" are wonderfully nostalgic and even were when the film came out. Add to that the fact that's the one song which stabs Rick in the heart every time he hears it.

5. Speaking of music, the scene where "La Marseillaise" is sung at Rick's always generates lots of emotion and shivers down the backbone. Victor is able to rally the crowd to overcome the Nazis' singing of their patriotic song with an onslaught of honesty and newfound patriotism from the seemingly jaded crowd in the "saloon".

6. The supporting cast is unrivaled in films of the era. Maybe it seems as if there are better casts, but character-for-character, the casting could scarcely be more perfect, and Claude Rains' Louis has to take extra bows for the perfection of his line deliveries, character development and rapport with Bogie's Rick. "I'm shocked... shocked to find gambling going on here!" "Your winnings, sir." "Oh, thank you."

7. Ingrid Bergman is so damn beautiful. She's obviously younger than Bogie, but their relationship seems destined to be and what he gives her in security, she gives him in pure love. They're able to humanize and improve each other in ways far beyond the simple cliche. By the way, did I mention that Bergman is incredibly gorgeous?

8. Bogart is THE MAN in this film. He had played the cynical lead before in the wonderful The Maltese Falcon, but this solidified him as the leading man, the hero, a romantic icon, and the man far more together and capable than even our current role model -- The XX Man.

9. The finale is probably the greatest ever presented in a Hollywood film or anything even resembling a romantic thriller. Rick is able to work everything out to a T and make it all happen, all the while sharing some of the greatest lines in film history. "Round up the usual suspects." "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." If you don't dig the final scene, I don't know what to say...

10. Casablanca is many viewer's gateway into the films of Humphrey Bogart and classic films in general. It may be difficult for some people to realize this, but Bogart was probably in more films which stand the test of time than any other actor of his day and perhaps even ever. Besides that, he was a character actor who was able to straddle the line between cynicism and heroism and create a very-flawed sort of hero which eventually became the Anti-Hero so well popularized by later actors such as Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. The thing about Bogie though was that he was a far-huger romantic leading man than any of them ever proved to be, and that is mind-boggling in and of itself. Movies would not be the same if Bogie and Casablanca did not exist.