Casablanca Review

"Play it again, Sam." Well, those lines aren't in Casablanca, but the words "Bogie and Bergman" rank just below "Bogie and Bacall" when it comes to famous celebrity film pairings. Sometimes a kiss isn't just a kiss -- in this case, it's forever. And it was certainly the beginning of a beautiful friendship...

A new double-disc DVD of Casablanca enhances the film for novelists and cineastes alike. I rarely do this, but I listened to Roger Ebert's entire commentary track, which he uses to discuss the film's curious shortcomings (what good would letters of transit signed by Charles de Gaulle be in getting you out of Morocco?), Bogart's past and rise to fame (this being his first starring role), Bergman and her foibles, endless points about the film's dozen or so famous lines, and extended commentary on the lighting, special effects (if you can call them that), and camerawork.

But mostly Ebert talks about his love for the film itself, its story, its heart, and its stars. Casablanca has it all: love, adventure, action, intrigue, humor. Some of the film's classic moments -- like the police officer collecting his winnings before shutting down Rick's for gambling -- are still as hilarious as anything you'll see in any straight-out comedy.

For the uninitiated, the film was released in 1942 and dealt with issues contemporary to the day: Euro-refugees have escaped France for Morocco and are looking to get out of the war zone. Meanwhile, in Casablanca, all manner of ruffians, corrupt cops, Nazis, and local swindlers ply their trade against the hapless yokels. Ground zero for this is the semi-savory Rick's Cafe Americain, run by Bogart. And everything's fine until old flame Bergman shows up, bringing with her old memories and unwanted attention from the police.

There are no real bad guys and few real good guys in Casablanca, making it a bit of an oddity and an absolute joy in comparison to the white hat/black hat flicks of the day. Motives are ever obscured, and every line of dialogue is a keeper (Ebert points out the singular line in the film that isn't: "It seems that destiny has taken a hand."). Stealing the show are Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre as local talent, perfecting their usual characters with aplomb.

So anyway... much has been written about Casablanca over the last 60 years and I'm hardly going to make a new dent or add anything special to the commentary. See it, rent it, buy the DVD. It's a film that pays off the viewer again and again and again.

Seems destiny has taken a hand.


Facts and Figures

Run time: 102 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 23rd January 1943

Box Office Worldwide: $10.5M

Budget: $950 thousand

Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures

Production compaines: Warner Bros.

Reviews 5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Fresh: 65 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 8.6 / 10

Cast & Crew


Producer: Hal B. Wallis

Starring: as Rick Blaine, as Ilsa Lund, as Victor Laszlo, as Capt. Renault, as Maj. Strasser, as Signor Ferrari, as Ugarte, Madeleine Lebeau as Yvonne, Dooley Wilson as Sam, Joy Page as Annina Brandel, as Berger, Leonid Kinskey as Sascha, as Pickpocket, Marcel Dalio as Emil, Helmut Dantine as Jan Brandel, Hans Heinrich von Twardowski as German officer with Yvonne, S.Z. Sakall as Carl, Norma Varden as Wife of Pickpocketed Englishman (uncredited), Gino Corrado as Waiter at Rick's (uncredited), Enrique Acosta as Guest at Rick's (uncredited), Ed Agresti as Bar Patron (uncredited), Louis V. Arco as Refugee at Rick's (uncredited), Frank Arnold as Overseer (uncredited), Leon Belasco as Dealer at Rick's (uncredited), Nino Bellini as Gendarme (uncredited), Oliver Blake as Waiter at the Blue Parrot (uncredited), Monte Blue as American (uncredited), Eugene Borden as Policeman (uncredited), Dick Botiller as Native Officer (uncredited), Maurice Brierre as Baccarat Dealer at Rick's (uncredited), as Bearded man in street watching plane in flight to Lisbon. (uncredited), Anita Camargo as Woman Companion (uncredited), George M. Carleton as American (uncredited), Spencer Chan as Guest at Rick's (uncredited), Melie Chang as Oriental at Rick's (uncredited), Franco Corsaro as French Police Officer (uncredited), Adrienne D'Ambricourt as Concierge (uncredited), Jean De Briac as Orderly (uncredited), George Dee as Lt. Casselle (uncredited), Jean Del Val as Police Officer (uncredited), Carl Deloro as Arab Guest with Fez (uncredited), Joseph DeVillard as Moroccan (uncredited), Arthur Dulac as News Vendor (uncredited), William Edmunds as Second Contact Man at Rick's (uncredited), Herbert Evans as Englishman Questioning Casino's Honesty (uncredited), Fred Farrell as Singing Frenchman (uncredited), Adolph Faylauer as Gambler at Rick's (uncredited), O.K. Ford as Conspirator (uncredited), Martin Garralaga as Headwaiter at Rick's (uncredited), Gregory Gaye as German Banker Refused by Rick (uncredited), Gregory Golubeff as Cashier at Rick's (uncredited), Ilka Grüning as Mrs. Leuchtag - Carl's Immigrating Friend (uncredited), Creighton Hale as Customer (uncredited), Winifred Harris as Englishwoman (uncredited), Jamiel Hasson as Muezzini (uncredited), Arthur Stuart Hull as Elderly Admirer (uncredited), Olaf Hytten as Pickpocketed Prosperous Man (uncredited), Paul Irving as Prosperous Tourist (uncredited), Charles La Torre as Italian Officer Tonnelli (uncredited), George J. Lewis as Haggling Arab Monkey Seller (uncredited), Manuel Lopez as Policeman (uncredited), Jacques Lory as Moor Buying Diamonds (uncredited), Lou Marcelle as Narrator (voice) (uncredited), Michael Mark as Vendor (uncredited), Tony Martelli as Bartender (uncredited), George Meeker as Rick's Friend (uncredited), Lal Chand Mehra as Policeman (uncredited), Hercules Mendez as Arab Guest with Fez (uncredited), Louis Mercier as Conspirator (uncredited), Torben Meyer as Dutch Banker at Cafe Table (uncredited), Alberto Morin as French Officer Insulting Yvonne (uncredited), Leo Mostovoy as Fydor (uncredited), Corinna Mura as Singer with Guitar (uncredited), as Gambler at Rick's (uncredited), Lotte Palfi Andor as Woman Selling Her Diamonds (uncredited), Paul Panzer as Paul - Waiter at Rick's (uncredited), Manuel París as Guest at Rick's (uncredited), Alexander Pollard as Croupier (uncredited), Paul Porcasi as Native Introducing Ferrari (uncredited), Frank Puglia as Arab Vendor (uncredited), Georges Renavent as Conspirator (uncredited), Dewey Robinson as Bouncer at Rick's (uncredited), Henry Rowland as German Officer (uncredited), Richard Ryen as Col. Heinz - Strasser's Aide (uncredited), Dan Seymour as Abdul (uncredited), Lester Sharpe as Refugee (uncredited), Dina Smirnova as Woman Customer (uncredited), Gerald Oliver Smith as Pickpocketed Englishman (uncredited), George Sorel as Native Officer (uncredited), Geoffrey Steele as Customer (uncredited), Ludwig Stössel as Mr. Leuchtag (uncredited), Mike Tellegen as Gambler (uncredited), Rafael Trujillo as Man Turning Propeller at Airport (uncredited), Jacques Vanaire as Frenchman (uncredited), Ellinor Vanderveer as Woman Gambler at Rick's Next to Croupier (uncredited), Ellinor Vanderveer as Emile - Waiter (uncredited), Jack Wise as Waiter (uncredited), Wolfgang Zilzer as Man with Expired Papers (uncredited), Trude Berliner as Baccarat Player at Rick's (uncredited)

Also starring: