CasablancaReviewed By Pope
Posted 08/04/99 20:39:17
I don't care what list you look at, Citizen Kane is at most number two. Reading from perhaps the sharpest and most memorable script ever written, Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart put in the best performances of their career. Backed up by an excellent group of supporting actors, even the bit parts are made enjoyable characters.I'm going to break tradition with every other review ever written about this movie and start with the supporting cast. Bogart and Bergman are great, and I'll get to them, but the character actors are really what brings this whole picture together.
Peter Lorre doesn't last long, and doesn't have enough screen time, which is maybe my only complaint about the whole thing. In my opinion he was the most amusing actor of his time. His odd accent and facial expressions which always made him look like a frightened mouse are wonderful. He's good as always here, even if for a short time.
Sydney Greenstreet didn't start acting until he was something like 60. I liked him in the Maltese Falcon, and I can't imagine anyone else playing the part of Senor Ferrari here. His ability to come across as a nice guy who doesn't do nice things fits in perfectly. Again, he doesn't get enough screen time, but it might be just the right amount to make things work.
Paul Henreid as Victor Laszlo is again a perfect fit. He is completely believable as a leader for the anti-Nazi underground. We don't get to see much of him either, but he appears at just the right time to keep the plot between Bergman and Bogart moving.
Claude Rains is absolutely spectacular as Captain Louis Renault. We get to see a lot of him, which is great because he performs the role so well. He plays to the stereotypical French coward, only doing the right thing when it's completely safe to do so, at least until the very end.
Dooley Wilson is maybe the most famous unknown in the history of the movies. He plays Sam, the piano player, who performs the instantly recognizable version of "As Time Goes By", a song that wasn't a hit when first recorded, but quite popular after this was released. Not a bad claim to fame. I'd have loved to have seen him in major leading roles, but when has it ever been a good time for black leads in good movies?
S.Z. Sakall as Carl makes only a few appearances as well, but his goofiness as the head waiter provides great comic relief to keep the movie from getting too melodramatic.
Now do you believe me when I said this supporting cast was good?
The two main characters of course are Ilsa (Bergman) and Rick (Bogart). Whenever you hear some overpaid loser getting paid $20 million to star with this months current flavor talking about "chemistry", this is what they're talking about. These two belong on the screen together; they look right, sound right, and act right. I think Bogart's wife at the time was even thinking they were having an affair because they worked so well together.
The plot itself is rather simple (aren't the best movies always made around a simple plot?). Rick has a choice of either being selfish by taking Ilsa with him to America, leaving Victor to rot in Casablanca, or do the right thing and give his two transit papers to Victor and let him take her so he can keep fighting the Nazi's with her help.
Short little subplots interject themselves at just the right time to keep you interested in everyone else and in what's happening to the world. To someone who was growing up at the time this was released, I'm sure this movie had quite a bit of propaganda value, and it probably boosted recruitment for the army. Patriotism for the "good guys" is all over this movie, but not in a preachy way so it fits in wonderfully.The movie which all others should be judged by. Beautiful cinematography, wonderful performances by everyone involved, and a script with over a dozen of the most classic lines ever written for a movie. This movie is absolutely fucking awesome.
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