Plot – A cynical American expatriate struggles to decide whether he should help his former lover and her fugitive husband escape French Morocco – Casablanca.
Director – Michael Curtiz
Released – 1942
When it comes to Casablanca, it’s not the story that makes the film so beloved, but the way in which it’s told. The fast pace proves to be eternally engrossing, with the story unfolding in intriguing ways that make it hard for the audience to guess what will happen next and who is playing who until the very end of the film. And the sense of mystery and suspense never goes away, even after multiple viewings.
It’s true to say that the backbone of the movie centres of the ill-fated love story between Rick (Bogart) and Ilsa (Bergman). Something that resonates with anyone who’s ever experienced heartbreak. The misery and cynicism that Rick shows feels authentic and real, with those nuanced emotions heightened fourfold once Ilsa comes back into his life and eventually puts his sometimes uneasy alliances in jeopardy.
It’s a delight to see a film where almost every character is representing opposing interests, be it power, influence, love or the will of one of the European countries engaged in war, trust and loyalty is scarce in Casablanca and even after multiple viewings, you’re never quite sure where some characters true loyalties lay and if a character is good, bad or somewhere in between.
Most of the film’s charm comes down to the excellent acting of Bogart. who before this was through of by the studio as little more than a B-Movie actor, but due to this film got his big break and developed his own unique style.
Opposite him you have Bergman, who acts as beautifully as her looks, hiding her true feelings and emotions throughout, only giving hints with her eyes and body language. Henreid too is excellent, just like the rest of the supporting cast, delivering each and every line of dialogue perfectly, which multiple lines that have gone on to become some of the most iconic in cinema history.
As many have written before me, Casablanca remains a timeless classic and depending on how you look at things is one of the greatest love stories or anti-love stories ever told. Not bad for a film that the studio had no expectations of. Here is looking at you kid!