Sunday, July 8, 2012

152. Casablanca (1942)

Running Time: 102 minutes
Directed By: Michael Curtiz
Written By: Murray Burnett, Joan Alison
Main Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt
Click here to view the trailer


Technically, with the watching of "Casablanca" I've officially crossed the halfway mark and have already started into the second half, as 501 movies watched means that more than half of THE BOOK is complete. "Casablanca" was one of the heavy hitters that I arranged to squeeze in during this 100 and I intentionally saved it until the end, so that I could go out with a bang. Unfortunately, the bang kind of fizzled out.

The film takes place in unoccupied Africa, specifically Casablanca, during World War II, sometime after the occupation of France by the Nazi's. Rick Blaine (Bogart) owns a gin joint in Casablanca, an American expatriate, who commands a certain respect from his clientele. In fact, the main story really doesn't have anything to do with Rick, but rather Victor Laszlo (Henreid), a resistance leader who has escaped from a concentration camp and is a wanted man...very wanted. As the film begins, we learn that many people are trying to make their way to Lisbon and from there, catching a plane to America and the freedoms it offers. In order to get to Lisbon, you either have to have a valid visa or a letter of transit. Early on, we also learn that a stack of letters of transit have recently been stolen from a group of German officers and somehow find their way into the hands of Rick. The other story, the more memorable one, is the story of Ilsa (Bergman), Victor's wife and Rick's former lover, whom Rick was abandoned by in Paris. Rick's still a little bitter about the whole situation and buries his sorrows in the bottom of a glass, while his pal Sam plays "As Time Goes By" on the piano, reminding him of Paris and his days with Ilsa. Now, Victor plans to make for Lisbon with Ilsa in tow, but what will Rick have to say about their departure.

I remember watching this film a long time ago. It was about the time that I really started to take an interest in movies and since I had heard so much about the reputation of this film, I decided to give it a go. Well, the experience ended up turning me off of classic movies for a while. I remember watching and not being able to grasp what was so fantastic about this film. A great love story? Sure, but those were a dime a dozen. Were people finding appeal in this film because it mixed this great love story with a World War II backdrop? I don't know, but it wasn't doing anything for me. I remember I also watched "Citizen Kane" around the same time and I couldn't grasp that one either. As time has gone by, I've learned to appreciate "Citizen Kane" a little more, but, even after today's viewing and all of my changes in taste, I still can't find appeal in "Casablanca".

As I mentioned in earlier posts, for films like "To Have and Have Not" and "The Big Sleep", I just don't get Humphrey Bogart. I realized today that the guy really never shows any emotion. I mean, here you have this guy, Rick; he's had his heart stomped on by this woman, Ilsa, yet Bogart chooses to play it cool throughout, barely losing his temper and letting his cigarette dangle calmly from his lips. Rick should be furious, Bogart should be putting in some serious emotion, screaming at Ilsa, begging her to explain why she broke his heart, destroyed his hope for love. I just can't get into the guy or his performances. I'll be the first to admit, he's one cool customer. In fact, he may be the coolest damn customer to ever grace the big screen, but what's cool? Maybe being cool was enough to get you by in the 1940s, but cool just doesn't work for me, unless there's a little more to it. There are still many Bogart films remaining in THE BOOK ("The Treasure of the Sierra Madre", High Sierra", "The Barefoot Contessa", "Beat the Devil", "The African Queen" and maybe more) and I'm determined to find one that appeals to me, one that will change my mind about Bogart and make me want to see even more of his films, non-BOOK films. I'll be on the lookout for a good Bogart performance, I promise. And, honestly, it's not that he's bad, it's just that he doesn't work for me and here, that's what counts.

RATING: 4/10  The story was good enough and flowed well enough to get at least a '4', but I can't go any higher. That's gonna' wrap things up for this 100 folks. I'll be back with you either later tonight or tomorrow to present my 5th TOP 20 list and I hope you're as excited for it as I am.


July 8, 2012  11:42am


  1. 4/10! Come on, this is a much better film than that. Bar the "Paris" scenes, it's pretty much perfect. And Ingrid Bergman's face.... Sigh.

    1. This movie did absolutely nothing for me and why it's considered to be one of the greatest by so many is something I'll NEVER understand. I appreciate your opinion, certainly won't knock it and am glad you found something to enjoy, but to be honest, a '4' is probably even too my opinion.

  2. Hi Andrew..
    This is one I did look at your entry for whilst I was AWOL.. and suapected it was your attempt to lure me back into comments with an outraged reply about '4!! How can anyone give casablanca 4!'
    Sorry, I'd wtch humph painting a wall and waiting to put a second coat on. Gloss paint at that.

    1. Whoa, I'm really taking a beating on this one aren't I? No offense at all though, that's what makes us movie makers a debatable, interesting bunch. I stand by that rating actually and if anything, my opinion on "Casablanca" has only gone down.


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