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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 8.9%
Average: 1.37%
Pretty Bad: 2.05%
Total Crap: 3.42%

5 reviews, 116 user ratings

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by Jay Seaver

"It really is that good."
5 stars

There is not a whole lot to say about "Casablanca" that is new. I feel vaguely silly writing anything at all, because anyone likely to read this probably already knows that this film is an all-time classic. Here in Boston/Cambridge, the Brattle Theater runs it at least twice a year, often preceded for a month by a trailer that regulars have memorized ("but they're all trapped!"). People attending a "Great Romances" double feature February 13th were advised to arrive by four the next day if they wanted to get tickets to the annual Valentine's Day showings. This is a beloved, famous movie, and rightly so. Do people really need to be convinced to see this?

Well, sure, maybe. People aren't born having seen it, and even if they have absorbed the plot and some of the greatest lines through osmosis, there's still plenty of delights to be found from actually watching the movie. There's a great cast on hand, so they can get introduced to some of the finest stars and supporting characters of classic Hollywood all at once. They can assure themselves that Humphrey Bogart does not, in fact, use the line "play it again, Sam". And they can witness just how a fantastic cast and crew can make a flawed story into a classic, and what a delight it is when that happens.

Because, let's face it, Casablanca's plot creaks a little. The central plot device - "letters of transit" that will let anyone, even Resistance leader Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), travel freely during a time of war - doesn't really hold up to a second of examination. But that's okay. Those letters are just an excuse to throw Laszlo, his beautiful wife Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), and her one-time lover Rick Blaine (Bogart) together. Rick runs a bar in Nazi-occupied French Morocco, and comes into possession of the letters after the untimely death of small-time gangster Ugarte (Peter Lorre). The Laszlos have recently arrived in Casablanca, but SS Major Strasser (Conrad Veidt) is watching Rick's like a hawk. Besides, Rick's got a policy of sticking his neck out for no-one, and to help Laszlo escape would mean saying farewell to the love of his life once again.

Look at the events logically, and it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. But we love watching Rick struggle against his better nature, and five minutes don't go by without someone popping out a great line. The cast is full to bursting with great supporting characters; in addition to those already mentioned, there's Claude Rains's gleefully corrupt Captain Renault, and Sydney Greenstreet as a mobster who probably wields as much power in Casablanca as either the French or the Germans. Dooley Wilson is mostly there to sing and play the piano, but he carries himself in a way that makes him feel much essential than many black characters of the time period. The movie is pure, classic melodrama, but also funny and built on winning chemistry between its leads.

It's a love triangle that works, because neither leg seems less than genuine, and the film portrays love as a powerful force that can wreak havoc on these people's lives and, because of their actions, the world around them. Bogart's Rick is the apparent epitome of cool, growling and appearing unfazed by the evil around him. It's a front, of course - not sticking one's neck out is an attitude born of fear, not strength, and it's a front that crumbles upon Ilsa's return. Henreid's Laszlo, on the other hand, does make a habit of sticking his neck out, but that sort of activity takes a toll on a man, and he needs the support Ilsa give him. Meanwhile, we see Ilsa genuinely torn between her two lovers, devoted to her husband but ever mindful of the raw passion she and Rick shared. English isn't her first language and she doesn't seem as assured delivering her lines as the others are, so the movie at times has to rely on her looks to explain why she is so central in these two men's lives. Being one of the most beautiful women ever captured on film is one hell of a crutch, though.

And in the end, that this must be relied on doesn't matter a whit. The cast is thoroughly charming, the love story is grand and uncompromising without ever being saccharine. Michael Curitz knows his stuff, working in both snappy patter and gunplay without ever losing the focus on the central romance and drama.

Of course, you should already know this. If you like movies, you should probably have this half memorized, and not just because you're expected to. It's a great movie, one that stays great even if it couldn't be made the same way today.

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originally posted: 02/24/06 04:40:59
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User Comments

2/27/20 dc Possibly the first film to show what it means to be an adult 5 stars
8/02/19 Suzanne Quite simply, the best movie ever made. 5 stars
9/13/17 morris campbell good film kinda sad tho 4 stars
4/27/16 Ken Nothing's boring about this movie. It's a classic. 5 stars
4/12/15 sjskskdk best film 5 stars
2/19/15 yulfiana not romantic 2 stars
2/12/15 lucas poll shit doesn't deserve in top 50 1 stars
2/11/15 kenika the WORST film ever made! 1 stars
1/28/15 McKenzie Payne This movie is the greatest ever! 5 stars
1/07/15 Robert Tschinkel Who doesn't love Casablanca. Ingrid Bergman is one of the most beautiful actresses ever. 5 stars
1/05/15 thomas LOL 1 stars
9/17/12 VLTampa For people who haven't gotton over a lost love. YUCK 1 stars
9/16/12 cindy madson fantastic 5 stars
6/25/12 Vic Baker one of my Top 2 5 stars
3/31/12 keith miron Overrated ! but it still has some moments 2 stars
3/02/12 stanley welles well executed, brilliantly played out 5 stars
10/18/11 C.M. Chan The best of the best 5 stars
9/09/11 Scot Dee All time classic 5 stars
8/21/11 Lawrence Mercer One of the best films ever made. 5 stars
8/10/11 WENDY Easily one on the best movies ever and it was peter lorre in it, briefly 5 stars
4/18/11 Dorothy Rozdilsky Awesome film, Claude Rains is a great actor, I love him 4 stars
3/23/11 Jeff Wilder Not dated at all. Emotionally touching as ever. Bogie's fantastic. 5 stars
3/14/11 Katie Fogle A classic! I'd definitely recommend it! 5 stars
2/23/11 D.M. Lanham Like any other great movie, only more so. 5 stars
6/01/10 User Name Casablanca is a movie qouter's ace-in-the-hole. 5 stars
4/05/09 Alfonso Turnage Loved the story, but I thought I 4 stars
1/09/09 Shaun Wallner Awesome Story! 5 stars
11/23/08 George Play it Sam 5 stars
8/26/08 aanantha rajan awesome, piece of reality film 5 stars
7/09/08 Quigley A great film with something for everyone. Essential viewing for every fan of the movies. 5 stars
2/17/08 S Peacock This film was sooo boring I thought it would never end-there was no real climax to it 1 stars
1/26/08 proper amateur film critic One of the most outstanding entertainment experiences of cinema history 5 stars
12/19/07 Pamela White worth watching 4 stars
10/15/07 fools♫gold No seriously, this is good. 5 stars
9/20/07 Lisa K A classic! 5 stars
7/29/07 David B & W movie+Smoke filled room+Bergman=The most beautiful face ever to hit the silver screen 5 stars
1/18/07 Oliver Klozov Decent. Don't know if it's the best movie ever made; I haven't SEEN every movie ever made. 4 stars
12/26/06 johnnyfog Claude Rains is as cool as Bogey. 5 stars
12/22/06 R.W.Welch Best script. Best cast. As good as they get. 5 stars
10/17/06 Isaac Baranoff Essential. View it. Now. 5 stars
9/24/06 Matthew Norgard It's not "Nazi-occupied French Morocco" you dimwit. Have you seen the movie? 5 stars
8/23/06 David Cohen Set a standard for how good a movie can be 5 stars
6/30/06 MP Bartley If there is such a thing as a perfect film, this would be it. 5 stars
6/08/06 Peggy Doty THIS WAS A GOOD MOVIE FOR ITS TIME 5 stars
5/12/06 SpyV A near-perfect film, even if part of the plot isn't logical. Every character is memorable. 5 stars
5/03/06 Ashley Hinz Likeable film. Sad, but worth watching. 4 stars
3/18/06 Elizabeth A classic - can't go wrong 5 stars
3/08/06 Carolyn Rathburn Wonderful old classic 5 stars
10/10/05 jay very good movie, however i think that michael curitz held back a little with this one.. 5 stars
7/08/05 John MacKendrick Not the "greatest movie ever made", but an excellent story. 5 stars
7/03/05 Eddie Great Movie 5 stars
6/07/05 Ann simple amazing 5 stars
5/22/05 Desperado An excellent film, in my opinion one of the greatest there ever will be 5 stars
4/09/05 Larry Weisberg THE best film EVER made. 5 stars
2/22/05 Captain Craig Made with real actors, real directors, real writers, when Hollly. knew how to make films. 5 stars
1/19/05 t-1000 goodness, this is good! 5 stars
10/25/04 UMER a great movie-quite overrated though-ROMAN HOLIDAY was better 5 stars
10/15/04 Daniel must be watched more than once, i didn't think much of it the 1st time, now i love it 5 stars
9/26/04 TGFTS unbeatable film of that era and genre in my opinion!brilliant! 5 stars
8/29/04 Conor Crockford great 5 stars
7/02/04 Dan Flinter The greatest 5 stars
6/27/04 Alan More quotable lines than most other movies combined. Best movie ever. 5 stars
6/14/04 dfc The best of the best. Buy the restored 2-disc set, it looks like it was filmed yesterday. 5 stars
6/11/04 T. Maj Best movie ever--but Ilsa should've gone off with Renault 5 stars
5/02/04 MiKe For an old crappy film, the storyline held my attention. 4 stars
3/20/04 Ray WeŽll always have Casablanca 5 stars
2/17/04 Mr. Blonde Just great. Lush photography and fantastic performances; we'll always have Casablanca. 5 stars
2/16/04 carmen basallo one of the most well-written films 5 stars
1/25/04 John Ames Not thrilled about love stories, but this is good. 4 stars
11/22/03 ross hendrick YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS 5 stars
11/07/03 Capt' Fox Classic romancic powerful characters, powerful actors, film noir like never before or since 5 stars
9/17/03 Alan More memorable lines than most other movies combined. The best movie of all time. 5 stars
8/16/03 moses best movie ever?FUck No. That title goes to the ten commandments. THE TEN COMMANDMENTS! 4 stars
8/09/03 Will Green This film is fucking amazing. If you don't like it, suck my balls 5 stars
5/20/03 Lin Rainey best b/w cinematography ever. Claude Raines is great 5 stars
3/13/03 Russell Perhaps the greatest American film ever made. 5 stars
1/11/03 Desperado The best script ever written, perfect acting, the best end line in a movie. Icredible. 5 stars
11/24/02 Kyle I acknowledge this is a classic, but has just never done it for me! 3 stars
10/30/02 Patrick fantastic 5 stars
10/29/02 Charles Tatum How can anyone not like this romance? 5 stars
9/18/02 paul tew Depressing 2 stars
5/20/02 Erin Excellent - an all time classic 5 stars
4/02/02 lauren mccreight one of the best ever!! 5 stars
3/08/02 Mo Anand This movie is not one of my favs...maybe too out of time for me...I don't know 3 stars
2/21/02 Shanna This movie is awesome! 5 stars
2/20/02 Xaver Great film. Great characters. 4 stars
12/28/01 LawHog24 Picture Ronald Reagan in Bogart's role. Now thank God the studio changed its mind. See it!! 5 stars
8/31/01 Hooker with a Penis great atmosphere... just imagine the era... occupation, clandestine action, and immigrants 5 stars
8/21/01 Monster W. Kung So much atmosphere, such well written characters. A true classic. 5 stars
8/09/01 E-Funk One of the best films ever made. Bogart is the coolest. 5 stars
5/29/01 svtbruno a true classic...amazing 5 stars
2/26/01 meg its good,i guess...i still don't understand all the fuss. 4 stars
1/25/01 L.Lippold Great!!! 5 stars
1/08/01 wachtrhein i wont say awesome, but certainly, its an excellent time period film. 4 stars
12/04/00 Fred The GREATEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME, as time goes by... 5 stars
11/13/00 The EVIL Penguin an instant masterpiece 5 stars
11/11/00 Rahul Kothari the Classic of all times 5 stars
9/27/00 Timothy L Green this movie rocked for its time. nothing like MIB, or Independence day, but a total classic 5 stars
9/24/00 Devon My favorite film of all time - no contest! 5 stars
9/05/00 David O'Connell The best movie ever made. Period. 5 stars
7/19/00 Terrie Smith A real gem. Bergman is gorgeous; Rains steals the film. 5 stars
6/28/00 perverted pixie You can play it again and again, Sam! 5 stars
6/10/00 Sarah Launivan Now, here's geat cimema. The greatest movie ever made. Even Gone With the Wind can't beat 5 stars
5/05/00 matt This isn't a film. It's like they put cameras in real-life situations and let it role. 5 stars
3/23/00 Richard Wright Its an old cliche, but: They don't make them like this anymore. Pure poetry in motion. 5 stars
11/29/99 Mic No comment required. 5 stars
11/19/99 Tyson Stewart Great movie! Bogart is excellent! Good entertaining story! 5 stars
10/28/99 Candace Bailey Dubs this is the type of film i could watch over and over again and not get tired of.. i love it 5 stars
10/19/99 JonnyAngel I love this movie! 5 stars
10/12/99 little jerry Classic Hollywood but 2nd greatest ever?!Fred C. Dobbs has a stronger claim. 4 stars
8/14/99 Deanna Long You must be careful there are vultures, vultures everywhere. 5 stars
7/07/99 Ben Leostein Rating: **** (out of ****) Category: "Excellent" 5 stars
4/23/99 lucas jackson This movie was an outstanding display of great acting,shit it was great all around 5 stars
4/09/99 GothamDK The best movie to grace the silver screen. Bogie's lines still give me goosebumps! 5 stars
3/14/99 Christina C. Humphrey, a love that can not be- a classic. 5 stars
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  26-Nov-1942 (PG-13)
  DVD: 05-Oct-2010


  02-Mar-1943 (PG)

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