Casablanca (Classic Film Pick)
Although it was made in 1942, "Casablanca" is still the greatest romantic drama ever made. The obsessive longing and regret that Humphrey Bogart's Rick and Ingrid Bergman's Ilsa feel for one another is magnified by the relentless social conditions that they find themselves in when fate brings them together after many years apart. World War II Casablanca is a dangerous place for an ex-patriate American, and even more so for the girl of a French Resistance Freedom Fighter (Paul Henreid's Victor Laszlo). Casablanca is the exotic location where a separated couple of dyed-in-the-wool lovers can reinvent their overpowering mutual love should they so choose, unless Rick, an apparent apolitical cynic, opts to sacrifice their once-in-a-lifetime chance in the name of a greater human cause. Such is the nature of director Michael Curtiz's film that features remarkable performances from Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, and Claude Rains. Broken into three clearly defined acts--the script was based on a stage play--and beautifully filmed with noir-inflected shadows by the great cinematographer Arthur Edeson ("The Maltese Falcon"), "Casablanca" has a way of refreshing itself the more times you view it. Between the heavily layered visual image systems at work, and the crisscrossing elements of social unrest and suppressed emotion, lies a movie that captures romantic lightening in a bottle. It doesn't hurt that Bogart and Bergman come together like flash paper to flame. The bitter sweetness of love never looked, or sounded, so good.
Rated PG. 102 mins. (A+) (Five Stars)
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