We’ll Always Have Casablanca

On Wednesday, it was my pleasure to attend TCM 70th Anniversary screening of Casablanca at the Edwards 21 Cinema in Boise. It was the second time I’d seen Casablanca, but seeing it in theaters, the way it was originally intended was definitely a different experience.

I’d seen it about 9 years ago on VHS. Seeing it theaters was a different experience. There’s so much depth and richness to the film. And just to see it as big as life on the screen, as it was originally intendeded, was incredible.

Casablanca is not a movie that you “review.”  That’d be silly. Still some things are striking. Casablanca remain an idealistic movie that’s still about real people dealing with real problems.

It’s a big movie about big things and big decisions.  It’s a movie where the ending wasn’t written when the filming began, but it may have been the best and most profound endings a movie had.

While I appreciate radio’s attempts to adapt Casablanca, this may be one classic film that loses quite a bit in the transition to audio format. One big thing I noticed was Bogart’s facial expression. A single look from him spoke more than a hundred lines of dialogue. Perhaps, if you’ve seen it a dozen times, you can probably imagine it well enough, but Casablanca is one of those films that on a relatively low budget ($800,000) creates a cinema richness that’s truly art.

The one thing radio could never duplicate is Bogart’s face. Bogart’s expressions communicate more than 200 pages of scripting could.   Particularly early on, when you watch him experience this pain of Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman)  return and dredging up all these memories, it’s so real you can almost feel what Rick’s going through Bogie’s eyes.

Casablanca is like many films in having a lot of elements at work: adventure, romance, drama, and comedy.  However, what Casablanca does better than any other films I’ve seen is that it times them perfectly, so you’re laughing one moment, drawn into the drama , and then laughing at some of the great comic relief moments and snappy lines.

I hope that Casablanca endures and that it’s passed down to future generations as the wonderful American film that it is.

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