Directed by: Michael Curtiz (won)
Screenplay by: Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, Howard Koch (won)
Starring: Humphrey Bogart (nominated), Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains (nominated)
My rating: 8/10
IMDb rating: 8.6
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Heaven Can Wait
In Which We Serve
The Human Comedy
The More the Merrier
The Ox-Bow Incident
The Song of Bernadette
Watch on the Rhine
Synopsis: During WWII, in French-occupied Casablanca, Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) runs a bar and gambling den. One day, old memories are dredged up by the arrival of an ex-lover (Ingrid Bergman) and her partner (Victor Laszlo).
It took me a while to build up to writing this post, and I still feel like I haven’t quite done it justice. Much like Gone With the Wind, Casablanca is a movie that comes with a lot of baggage. And as I said with Gone With the Wind, there’s nothing that hasn’t been said about this movie, and better. But I’ll add my voice to the thousands nonetheless.
I can see why this is often regarded as one of the best screenplays ever written. At only 1h42m, the story is incredibly tight, but still has time for emotional development. And the dialogue, as attested by the number of recognisable quotes, is sublime.
The setting is also incredibly economical – most of the film is set inside Rick’s Café Américain. It’s a war movie focused on characters and relationships, which makes it all the more meaningful.
Bogart, Bergman and Henreid are exactly as you’d expect them, but jovially sleazy characters like Sydney Greenstreet’s Ferrari and Claude Rains’s Renault are delicious.
In fact, Renault, despite being utterly unscrupulous, was probably my favourite performance, and I think Rains fully deserved his Oscar nomination.
There really is so much to love here. From the ever iconic rendition of As Time Goes By to the stirring chorus of La Marseillaise, it’s another wartime war movie, and is all the more poignant for it.
The bottom line: As if you need me to tell you to watch this.
Read the rest of the series here.