I previously mentioned that I wasn’t sure what it would take for a Best Picture Winner to get a five star rating from me, but it turns out it wasn’t a difficult decision to make. Before we even finished this BPW, I had made up my mind to give it five stars. The strange thing is that I wasn’t looking forward to watching this movie, and even remembered disliking it when I was forced to watch it in a High School history class. Ten plus years later and I’m a very different person! Which, interestingly, led to a very different movie watching experience.
BPW #16: Casablanca — 1942 — Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman
“Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.” Rick Blaine. (Also, “Here’s looking at you, kid” and “We’ll always have Paris.”)
“Play it, Sam.” Ilsa Lund. (Often misquoted as “Play it again, Sam.” Rick also shouts, “Play it!” to Sam in another scene, referring to the same song, “As Time Goes By”, which was definitely stuck in my head long after the movie ended.)
Bobby: 4 out of 5 stars
Niki: 5 out of 5 stars
Bobby’s Blurb: “I’ll never be as cool as Humphrey Bogart in that movie.”
Casablanca was based on an unproduced stage play called, “Everybody Comes to Rick’s.” The day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, which occurred on December 7th of 1941 and triggered the United States official entry into the Second World War, a Warner Brothers reader began evaluating the play as a possible movie. At that time studios were racing to get patriotic pictures into production and shortly thereafter they did just that with Casablanca.
The plot centers around Humphrey Bogart’s character, Rick Blaine, an American expat who owns an upscale bar in the city of Casablanca. As explained in the movie, Casablanca served as a major stepping stone on the escape route for those running from the Nazi regime and, more importantly, trying to get to America. Rick ends up having to help his former lover, Ilsa Lund, and her husband, a famous resistance leader who had escaped from a concentration camp, avoid recapture and travel to the United States.
Casablanca was an overtly anti-Nazi film and fun fact (!) many of the actors who played Nazis in the film were in fact actual German Jews who had escaped from Nazi Germany. During the famous scene where “La Marseillaise” (French National Anthem) is sung over the German song “Watch on the Rhine,” many of the extras had real tears in their eyes. I had fun singing along to the lyrics of “La Marseillaise” that I was familiar with during this part of the film, much to Bobby’s confusion. I have my sister to thank for that, who learned it in French class and thought it was fun to use for “car karaoke” Katie Catton style. I suspect some of you may have, unfortunately, also been subjected to a version of this at some point in the friendship if you know her. *EYE ROLL*
Really this movie is the epitome of a classic, to me. It meets and exceeds all the criteria. Solid, star performers for the time period. Completely on point and relevant, also for the time period. Compelling throughout, with some humor, some drama, some action — just exceptionally well rounded. The fact that so many quotes from this movie have seeped into popular culture speaks clearly to its relevance and staying power, even if many people (formerly me) couldn’t tell you specifically where the quote came from!
But the most interesting part of all of this, for me, is that my reception of Casablanca was so different during the present stage of my life than it was when I was in High School. For some bizarre reason I thought I remembered Ilsa’s character dying at the end of the film. No idea where that came from. But more importantly, I remember not being satisfied by the ending. I can only imagine that my 16/17 year old self was unhappy that Rick and Ilsa, two people who were so clearly in love, did not end up together. Fast forward to now and I grumbled throughout the movie that the lying bitch didn’t deserve her husband and I kind of wish she HAD died in the end! Just kidding, I almost never like when major characters die at the end of movies. Ilsa thought her husband, who had been sent to a concentration camp, was dead and this was why she allowed herself to become involved with Rick in Paris. I get it, and I don’t demonize her for that. But COME ON, she had every opportunity to come clean to her husband after that, to be honest and tell him what had happened, but instead she ran around trying to fix everything herself and continued to trample all over poor Rick’s heart and the life he had set up for himself while trying to forget about her. She didn’t deserve him and he was the better person for sending her away with her husband to a new life in America. That’s it, I’ve said my peace and I am done.
Last thing is the drink.
A champagne cocktail. Because, if you’ve seen this movie, duh. The characters almost exclusively drink champagne and order champagne cocktails like, the whole movie. I actually really enjoyed mine! And on another note…
I want some champagne coupe glasses like these ones. Preferably antique ones. Somebody keep an eye out for me.