Casablanca has an emotive plot, set against World War II and the impact it had on refugees and the ability to travel. The eclectic, multinational clientele of Rick’s Bar reveals German officers rubbing shoulders with petty criminals and gamblers.
After knowing the iconic lines “Here’s looking at you, kid” and “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine” for years, it was wonderful to finally hear them in context in Casablanca, meet the character who delivers them and understand the significance of the words.
Bogart delivers the perfect anti-hero in Rick. While suave and mysterious, Rick is also quite savage: “I’m the only cause I’m interested in.” He doesn’t share a drink with his guests, and his closest friend and confidante is Sam, his house pianist who has travelled with him for a number of years.
While Casablanca is undoubtedly Bogart’s film, he is ably supported by Bergman and Henreid. Bergman delivers a strong performance, and Henreid is very charismatic as the famed Czech resistance leader, Victor Laszlo.
However, it is the second-billed Claude Rains, as Captain Louis Renault, who proved the real scene-stealer. Rains is an absolute delight; he delivers several comedic lines of the corrupt prefect of police with his velvety smooth voice.
I particularly enjoyed these lines, when Captain Renault is speaking to Rick: “I’ve often speculated on why you don’t return to America. Did you abscond with the church funds? Did you run off with the senator’s wife? I like to think that you killed a man. It’s the romantic in me.”
My only slight fault with Casablanca is that it seemed to drag in the second third. The opening scenes were very enjoyable, meeting Rick and the various guests of Rick’s Bar, and the closing third was very dramatic, intense and, at times, moving.
Casablanca is a great film worthy of its acclaim: it provides an excellent snapshot of a difficult period of history, putting a complex and serious individual at the centre of the story, interweaving themes of love, honour and politics.
Director: Michael Curtiz
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid
Filmed and set during World War II, Rick’s Bar in Casablanca, then French Morocco, is a popular saloon bringing together all sorts of people. When a Czech resistance leader (Henreid) and his wife (Bergman) need safe passage to leave Casablanca, owner Rick Blaine (Bogart) must decide whether to help them or whether old feelings will get in the way.
- Won the Academy Award (1944) for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Writing – Screenplay. Also nominated for five other Academy Awards, including Best Actor in a Leading Role (Bogart) and Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Claude Rains)