Thursday, June 7, 2007

Casablanca (1942)

Directed by Michael Curtiz. Starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, and Claude Rains.

I'm a believer in the idea of the "auteur theory", but there are exceptions to it, and this is probably the most famous of them. Director Michael Curtiz was more a skilled journeyman than an acclaimed genius, and the now-legendary screenplay was allegedly re-written on a daily basis. What is for certain is that CASABLANCA represents sturdy craftsmen and performers working together to produce something that was greater than the sum of its parts. Much of the film's mystique comes from the cast- not only iconic leads Bogart and Bergman but also great character actors like Claude Rains, Sydney Greenestreet, and Peter Lorre. What really puts the film over the top, in my opinion, is the way the film sees Bogart's Rick Blaine, a classic anti-hero who claims to "stick his neck out for nobody" but, when the chips are down, will sacrifice his personal feelings for the greater good.

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