Sunday, November 24, 2013

Everything I Know in Life I Learned From the Movies: Casablanca

Next week we begin a round of Christmas movies, but I'd like to talk about my favourite movie today.

In my opinion, it is almost a perfect movie: well acted, well written (every other line is a quote that has become part of the collective zeitgeist of popular culture over the past 70 years.) and well directed, this movie is a little jewel whose shimmer can never tarnish...

What's to love?  What's not to love....


1) even tough guys play "the song"

For me, it was Andy Gibb in 1978 and I was in love with a boy who really couldn't grow a moustache.  For movie stars like  Humphrey Bogart, it is one of the greatest songs of all time, "As Time Goes By"...



Never has any actor so exemplified the wronged lover than the hangdog Rick Blaine.  He is a mass of throbbing pain when Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman who is luminous) shows up; this is a guy who's become too cool for school as a result of a broken heart.  Friends, this is called nursing a drink and a grudge...



"Rick: You know what I want to hear.
Sam: [lying] No, I don't.
Rick: You played it for her, you can play it for me!
Sam: [lying] Well, I don't think I can remember...
Rick: If she can stand it, I can! Play it!"

2) You say you stick your neck out for nobody, but really, you stick it out for everybody

In fact, our hero turns out to be the biggest bleeding heart ever to appear in the movies, despite his protestations otherwise.

Captain Renault (the sublime Claude Rains) accuses Rick of being a Secret Sentimentalist and he is absolutely right. 


By the end of the movie, he has pretty much saved everyone.

3) Everybody Goes to Rick's


It's a bar!  A place to gamble! A waiting place to get out of Europe! A place to hide secrets!  A place for romantic rendezvous...In short, this was the 'it' place and no wonder, the way our hero slouches so pleasingly against the bar...



Rick's CafĂ© Americain has it all and is as much a character in the movie as any of the people.

4) You have to love a man who remembers what you wore:




Dear God!  My husband doesn't remember what I wore this afternoon!

5) When things get tough, a good quip is worth its weight in gold...

Sure, the Nazis are breathing down your neck, but Rick never loses his cool.  Take a page from his book and never let them see you sweat...




6)  A sense of time is over-rated:

Especially if you are running the town....



And scruples are optional....

7) And if you are going to fall in love, Paris is the place...you can regret it together in the rain later on....

Sure the Nazis are coming.  Sure you think your resistance-leader husband is dead.  These are desperate times, who can blame you?  Later when you meet again, you will both be full of heartbreak and regrets, but you will have the best line ever when you look back at those desperate days.

Rick: We'll always have Paris


And haven't you said that yourself at least a couple of times?

8) In the end, you will always do the right thing...

Let the girl go, thwart the Nazis....Even if it breaks your heart to do it.  Because, dammit, you are a good guy....





9) But you will have friends who will turn out to be good guys too, despite their bad boy persona...

Sure, Rick's killed the bad Nazi, but that guy had it coming and it was for the greater good.  Turns out that Captain Renault is a sentimentalist at heart, too.  He gives the now infamous command "Round up the usual suspects" and Quentin Tarantino's future movie is born...



10) There are other kinds of love, not as good as the love of Ingrid Bergman, but not bad...


Sure she's gone.  You've saved the resistance, you've saved the girl, you've got rid of the bad Nazi.  And it turns out that the guy you used to just get a kick out of is a kindred spirit,  And thus, one of the greatest movie endings of all time:

Louis, this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship


 
 
Never has two men walking off into the mist been so beloved (although I would have liked it if that had happened on Brokeback Mountain!)
 
If you have not seen this movie, I implore you to add it to your Christmas list.  This is the greatest movie and funny and sad and inspiring all at once.  It never gets old.  I leave you with a taste...
 



Have you seen Casablanca?  Do you love it as I do?  Have a great day and stay safe out there!

32 comments:

  1. I am ashamed to say that I have only seen snippets of this movie...Not the full length. But I love those two for some reason and the references are so entrenched in everyone's psyche it's like we all saw the movie!

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    1. CSW - you are right - we have all seen the clips and heard the quotes that we all feel we've seen it!

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  2. Oh, I do love it so much. I have seen it nearly as much as Wizard of Oz. I never thought before about how old Bogie is supposed to be-- 37!! Doesn't he seem older , by our standards at least. Thank you, Wendy for that marvelous summary! Yes IB seems illuminated from within.

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    1. I just looked it up and he was 47 in real life and I think he looks 47, although they try to make him look healthier and younger in the Paris scenes! Ingrid Bergman obviously had a director and cinematographer who were in love with her - she looks perfect in this movie!

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  3. Hi Wendy, good choice! This is one of my favourite Old Hollywood movies. I agree with Lane - Bogey does seem so much older than 37. Why, he would be a toy boy for us!! :0)

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    1. See above! I think he would be less of a boy toy for me than a contemporary! He and Cary and Jimmy and WIlliam Powell were my favourites!

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  4. I love Casablanca! Need to see it again and I can get husby to watch it with me since the characters wore fedoras. I think every time I wear one I'm really wanting to look as fetching as Ingrid. Oh to look like her in that scene for #7!

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    1. well my son watched it with me a couple of years ago and it is so witty that he loved it so I am sure he will love it!

      It is perfect styling, isn't it?

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  5. The right thing is not always the easy thing to do. Ms. Bergman is simply stunning and Mr. Bogart seems a good ten years older than the character he portrays. Believe it or not, it is only one of three black and white movies i have seen. Finally, saw Mud last night. Thought it was very good. Ol Matt is really coming into his own…fortunately, he went shirtless in one scene.

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    1. BB - you are too funny! I haven't seen Mud yet myself - we try to rectify that and you are right - I read that some actor recently said that Matthew is having a "mcenassaince!"

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  6. I love this one! We once watched in in Uni for one of our American Cinema classes, and it was such an experience to watch the faces of the students who had never seen it before! Michael Curtiz is one of my favorite. I made my husband watch Mildred Pierce with me recently and he was fascinated. Through my work, he is getting quite the film education!

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    1. Oh wasn't he the greatest - so intelligent! I finally saw Deception with Bette Davis and Paul Henreid this past weekend - it was so over the top it was fantastic, but if someone wants to learn to decorate - they must study these old movies!

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  7. Casablanca was my first magic movie, for some reason I found it on some minor channel's "movie of the week" where it was shown twice a day for a week. By the end of the week, I couldn't remember what day it was. My head was in that airport. Of course we have it on tape, it was the first movie we bought, and of course on dvd and on a spare dvd just in case.

    By the way, Casablanca really is a port. Go figure.

    I note that even as a child I was suspicious of how beautifully ironed IB's blouses were despite the fact that she and husband were on the run. Me, I was unable to get to the bus stop without crumpling.

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    1. oh, and in college, the Casablanca drinking game for the artistic: slug of wine every time someone lights a cigarette.

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    2. Love this! Fred - I have been addicted to watching the 1963 coverage of Kennedy's assassination on cbs.com and all I can see if men, smoking, smoking, smoking! And dammit, it always looks glamorous!

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  8. Okay, you have me convinced. I am going to sit down and watch this with my daughter over the holiday season. It is such a classic I really should share this with her.
    And oh, I totally agree, I so wished that Ennis and Jack in Brokeback Mountain rode off into the sunset together. ;)
    Thanks for dropping by anangloinquebec.

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    1. I promise you will love it! And I love your blog - stumbled upon it a couple of weeks ago and it is just great!

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  9. LETTERS OF PASSAGE I'll be up front and say there's one line of Casablanca that reminds me of a certain mayor of late (Nationality? Drunkard.)

    Did you know that Bergman and the entire cast played the film without knowing who would get on the plane at the end? (Thanks Turner Classic Movies.)

    I think three things make it timeless for me: great dialogue as you note, that sense of nobility and higher purpose contrasted with very real flaws, and powerful black & white shots that capture a rich supporting cast. Despite RR and Lena Olin not sure why Hollywood ever thought to even try and re-make this - Havana 1990 clearly a rip off/ mash-up.

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    1. I know - I turned off Havana very early on!

      I didn't mention Pete Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet, which I should have as they are fabulous, just like they were in The Maltese Falcon.

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    2. Yes, Lorre does groveling cheat very well. Greenstreet, is that the club owner? As always WMM, ta for Monday treat. I really look forward to these.

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  10. I don't remember this film at all, it's so long since I've seen it. But I do remember that Havana film and quite liked it, which now spins my mind back to my solo Cuba trip, taken about 24 years ago, boy oh boy, where has time gone?

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    1. tell me about it! Next time you see it on the telly - take a watch!

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  11. I have never seen the movie (yeah, lacking of classics!!!) but I do love the music if I am right! And I love those posts Wendy. Hope your week is on a good start.

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  12. Responding to this blog with a reference to another. Mcleans magazine November 25 2013 page 87. Alexander Payne screenwriter for Sideways and the Descendents says"the $25 to 40 million dollar movie is almost extinct. Where is today's Out of Africa? Where is The English Patient ? ...

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  13. I've seen this movie numerous times, and each time Bogart seems to be less believable as a good match for Ingrid. JMO, of course.

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  14. I love Casablanca! Every time my husband leaves for his mancation to VT, I climb in bed for an evening with Rick Blaine. Never gets old.

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    1. I am right there with you! Not literally mind you! ;-)

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  15. Is it that the love story is so overwhelming that people choose to ignore the politics in this movie? The American with a distressed Europe at his mercy.Kills the German, sets Europe free and begins a beautiful friendship with the french, the french is even named Louie Renault, what else is more french than that? This is how America likes to view its place in history with regards to WWII. The politics is amazing. The movie my all time great

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