Tuesday, November 8, 2011


For the many who attempt to escape the tyranny of WWII Europe, the last stop of their arduous journey is the Moroccan town of Casablanca where scores of refugees wait and wait for safe passage to Lisbon and then the new world. There many spend their time at Rick's, a cafe run by a hard bitten American expatriate who sticks his neck out for no one, until a freedom fighter and his wife, Rick's ex-flame walk into his gin joint and makes him realize that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans. Of all the great films that consistently top purportless lists ("Citizen Kane", "The Godfather", etc.), "Casablanca" is the most cherished and the finest of the American films because of its mass appeal traversing multiple genres, its durability over the years (and through attempts to contaminate it i.e. colorize), and for its downright effectiveness and profundity. Director Michael Curtiz, from a quintessential script by Howard Koch and brothers Philip and Julius Epstein, has fashioned a film as memorable and quotable as any that is just as grabbing the fifteenth time you've watched it as it does the first. Humphrey Bogart is at his cynical best and Ingrid Bergman is transcendentally beautiful and affecting. The supporting cast headed by Claude Rains as the happily corruptible French police captain is the finest ever assembled as well, rounded out by the shifty Peter Lorre, the rotund Sydney Greenstreet, and the inimitable Dooley Wilson as Sam the piano player. "Casablanca" is a wonderment of the cinema and every revisit is a renewal of a beautiful friendship.