Anthony's Film Review
Casablanca tells a nice love story and features a great cast...
Casablanca is notable for having plenty of memorable film quotes. This is the film where Humphrey Bogart, in several scenes, famously says to Ingrid Bergman, "Here's looking at you, kid." Also, Bogart says in a state of sadness, "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine." And who can forget Bogart's timeless final line of the movie: "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." These quotes, plus three others, are in the American Film Institute's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes list. But while this is a nice honor, let's not forget that Casablanca is a classic simply because it has a nice story and cast of characters.
The first scene after the opening credits does a very nice job giving us the setting. Basically, during World War II, anyone who wants to travel from Lisbon, Spain, to the freedom of the Americas cannot go directly to Lisbon first, given the current wartime climate. Instead, they would have to take a long indirect route south across the Mediterranean Sea, then west through Northern Africa before arriving at the city of Casablanca in French Morocco where they can get exit visas to go to Lisbon. However, they can only get those visas if they have money, influence, or luck. Many, unfortunately, have to wait a long, long time. As you can imagine, Casablanca is where good stories can be told.
The main story here centers on Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine, an American who owns a nightclub and casino in Casablanca and has not been able to get back home to the States. Plenty of interesting characters make their presence here, including members of the German Third Reich, Peter Lorre as the slick crook named Ugarte trying to sell letters of transit, Sydney Greenstreet as nightclub owner Signor Ferrari, and Sam the piano player. On top of that, there is Paul Henreid as a man named Victor Laszlo and Ingrid Bergman as his lover Ilse Lund, the latter of whom used to be Rick's lover.
Keep in mind that this film is based on a play and, as a result, is essentially a cinematic play, featuring conversations among an ensemble of characters in mostly a single setting. That's not to say the film jumps around too much. As I said above, the main story centers on Rick. What happens is that Rick and Ilse meet face to face again. Rick cannot get over the fact that Ilse is with another man. We can clearly see why in a flashback sequence explaining that, while traveling in France, Rick and Ilse fell deeply in love to the point where marriage was in the future. But then, the Germans prepared to invade France, creating circumstances that threaten their safety and, therefore, their relationship. With that, Ilse leaves Rick.
Basically, Casablanca is a wartime love story. Rick is bitter and heartbroken about being left alone, while Ilse seems uncertain about being with Victor while still having feelings for Rick. Meanwhile, Victor and Ilse are seeking exit visas, even if that means contacting Ferrari and getting them from the black market. Things eventually get heated as the German officers may finally take matters into their own hands. This, of course, complicates the already complicated love story.
Casablanca is quite good and certainly worthy enough to be considered a classic. The script is written quite well, and the stars play their roles fantastically. For me, I was especially taken by Bogart's performance, where the actor plays a man who is cynical, bitter, and heartbroken, but ultimately a good person. If you love Bogart and want to see his most notable works, you must see Casablanca. Of course, with many other nice things about the film, you must see Casablanca if you want to experience the best of 1940s American cinema. It's a classic for a reason.
For more information about Casablanca, visit the Internet Movie Database.