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"Here's Looking At You, Kid" - Warner Bros Plan Casablanca Sequel


Ingrid Bergman Humphrey Bogart Howard Koch

Warner Bros are reported to be working on a sequel to one of Hollywood’s best loved classics: Casablanca. The original, iconic movie was released in 1942 and starred Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart. Set in World War II, it told the tale of a man forced to choose between his love for a woman, or helping her husband escape Casablanca, to continue his fight against the Nazis.

The rumor currently doing the rounds is that Warner Bros are working on the next stage in the tale, with a working title of either Return to Casablanca or As Time Goes By. The plot is said to revolve around Richard Blaine (the illegitimate son of Humphrey Bogart’s character Rick Blaine and Ingrid Bergman’s Ilsa Lund). At the end of the original movie, those two were famously separated and the new movie finds Rick on the hunt for his biological father, to discover what became of him.

The new movie was the brainchild of Cass Warner, The Independent reports. The late Howard Koch wrote the guidelines for a sequel back in the 1980s. Cass Warner, the granddaughter of the Warner Bros founder Harry Warner, has seemingly been pressing for the sequel to be made. Cass said, of the new movie “There will be flashbacks, but it's a film about the next generation; a son going back to find what happened to his parents. I wouldn't want to touch the original for the world,” though that may be of little reassurance to film purists.

As Time Goes By: Casablanca Piano To Be Sold At Auction


Humphrey Bogart Ingrid Bergman

During the 1940s, for many soldiers and civilians alike, the movie theatre was the best form of escapism from the abject poverty the war had thrust upon Europe, as well as the heartbreak and tragedy that fell across the continent like rain. Casablanca, a romantic feature starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, was one of the favourites during that era and in that respect it comes as no surprise that the piano which appeared in the film has been valued at over £1m, reports the BBC.

The iconic piano, which appears in during the most romantic scene of the film in which Sam sings 'As Time Goes By', is to be sold at Sothebys in December. The last time it was sold it fetched $154,000 and was bought by a Japanese collector. That was back in 1988 though, and in the last 24 years the price has been hiked up a bit. The sentimental value attributed to the film and therefore to objects that appear in it clearly have had an enormous effect.

The scene in which it appears has been parodied by the 1978 movie The Cheap Detective and even The Muppets alongside others, and we all know mimicry is the greatest form of flattery. Casablanca's success is unfailing and has been voted one of the best films of all time, and similarly 'As Time Goes By' has also been voted one of the best songs of the 20th century. The sale marks the 70th anniversary of the film, and despite time going by, evidently this doesn't stop the popularity of Casablanca, or its piano.

Notorious (1946) Review


Essential
It just doesn't get any more stylish than this. A high point in Hollywood's golden era, Notorious is a convergence of talent. Hitchcock is most "notorious" for psycho-thrillers (i.e. Rear Window, Dial M for Murder, Psycho) but the trademark mind-messing is restrained here, though not completely absent (there is an evil Nazi mother-in-law). Like Hitchcock's later espionage masterpiece North By Northwest, Notorious is sophisticated and entertaining. Uncoincidentally, Cary Grant is front and center in both films.

In Notorious, Grant plays a federal agent, looking for Nazis, who goes to Rio to protect Ingrid Bergman, who is married to a Nazi spy (Claude Rains) and is betraying him. Of course, Grant actually plays the suave, blasé, seemingly ordinary, seemingly heartless character he plays in all other films. Bergman is brilliant as the complex heroine.

Continue reading: Notorious (1946) Review

Murder On The Orient Express Review


Excellent
Classic Agatha Christie becomes a near-classic motion picture, as a dozen major stars are trapped on a snowbound train with what appears to be a killer on the loose. It's up to an absurdly made-up Poirot (Albert Finney) to unmask the murderer of a millionaire in this rich whodunit. Beautifully made and full of good one-liners, Ingred Bergman inexplicably won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar as a relatively forgettable "simple woman." Odd.

Notorious Review


Essential
It just doesn't get any more stylish than this. A high point in Hollywood's golden era, Notorious is a convergence of talent. Hitchcock is most "notorious" for psycho-thrillers (i.e. Rear Window, Dial M for Murder, Psycho) but the trademark mind-messing is restrained here, though not completely absent (there is an evil Nazi mother-in-law). Like Hitchcock's later espionage masterpiece North By Northwest, Notorious is sophisticated and entertaining. Uncoincidentally, Cary Grant is front and center in both films.

In Notorious, Grant plays a federal agent, looking for Nazis, who goes to Rio to protect Ingrid Bergman, who is married to a Nazi spy (Claude Rains) and is betraying him. Of course, Grant actually plays the suave, blasé, seemingly ordinary, seemingly heartless character he plays in all other films. Bergman is brilliant as the complex heroine.

Continue reading: Notorious Review

Autumn Sonata Review


Excellent
At its core Autumn Sonata is little more than a movie about an argument. Charlotte (Ingrid Bergman, in her second-to-last role), a world-famous concert pianist, has arrived at the home of her daughter Eva (Liv Ullmann), who lives a modest life with her parish priest husband, Viktor (Halvar Bjork), and takes care of her terminally ill sister Helena (Lena Nyman). Despite everyone's efforts to be mannered and accepting - this is an Ingmar Bergman film, after all - Charlotte's arrival cracks Eva's long-standing resentments wide open.

Though Ingrid and Ingmar Bergman aren't related, their pairing on a movie set was a long-anticipated event -- each of their careers were marked by a certain Scandinavian iciness -- and it turned out to be a wholly successful one. Ingrid has a stubborn, indomitable attitude in the opening of the film that turns out to be only selfish shallowness - she resents being in the presence of Helena, and seems anxious to get away from Eva, who she always felt fell short of expectations. As each reveal the losses they've suffered and the slights they've felt, it slowly becomes clear that resentment has built up between them for years. But the brutality of Eva and Charlotte's final fight doesn't come from the noise they make - it's in the way their words cut. "You should be hidden away and kept from doing others harm," Eva tells her mother towards the end, and it seems to annihilate her.

Continue reading: Autumn Sonata Review

Intermezzo Review


Weak
Ingrid Bergman's screen debut is about the only memorable moment in this edition of the much-remade Intermezzo, a typically repressed Swedish love triangle about an older violinist who falls out of love with his wife and in love with the nubile gal (Bergman) teaching his child to play piano. Dramatically poor in its lighting, direction, and editing, the movie is barely tolerable when Bergman is off screen. And alas, even when she's on, you'll be too busy reading subtitles to notice her much.

Elena And Her Men Review


OK
1956's Elena and Her Men, the third in an informal trilogy of films Jean Renoir made upon returning from the U.S. and following his work here during the war, shares a common theme with its trilogy mates. This theme - the ways in which theater and life interact, and in which the territory of the first encroaches on the latter - in fact preoccupied Renoir throughout his career. In Elena and Her Men (unlike the other two films, The Golden Coach and French Cancan), the film's principals are not stage actors. Their performances are given in the political and social arenas; Renoir concludes the trilogy, fittingly, with the assertion that all the world is indeed a stage.

Elena and Her Men tells the story of the title woman, a Polish princess living a life of high style in Paris despite the secret fact of her poverty. She's widowed, and although men throw themselves at her, she's unfocused romantically and takes these suitors on as projects rather than potential mates; she sees her work as assisting them in achieving their potential, and when they do, she moves on. Her ability is linked to the daisies she distributes to her men as charms, and these magical daisies infallibly do the job.

Continue reading: Elena And Her Men Review

Casablanca Review


Essential
"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.

Continue reading: Casablanca Review

Anastasia (1956) Review


Weak
This is the earlier, and definitely not animated, version of the story of the hunt for Anastasia Romanov, daughter of the Tsar who, according to legend, was the only member of the royal family to survive their massacre by revolutionaries in 1917. Anastasia starts off in the late 1920s among the exiled White Russian community in Paris, who rather obsessively keep their country's customs alive in a foreign place. Certain entrepreneurs in the community, including a disgraced former general, Prince Bounine (Yul Brynner), have been trying for years to discover a trainable woman with a close-enough resemblance to Anastasia that she could pass for the real thing - and collect 10 million pounds of Russian royal money sitting in a London bank. Bounine and his compatriots recruit the homeless and rather insane Ingrid Bergman for the task and start about molding her to pass muster before the exiles who knew the real Anastasia and who will, hopefully, sign testimonies to her identity. The twist is that Bergman at times actually thinks she is Anastasia.

There would have been plenty of opportunity for some My Fair Lady-type hijinks in the early part of this remarkably-controlled film, with Brynner playing the stern taskmaster and Bergman the not-so-ugly duckling about to transform into a swan. But director Anatole Litvak keeps everything measured and reasonably serious, focusing more on Bergman's dementia than the perfunctory romance that supposedly blossoms between her and Brynner. Bergman's performance (which won her an Oscar) has its hammy "look at me!" moments, but they're shrewdly undercut by the surrounding characters' suspicion that she is inventing not just her past as Anastasia but her entire dementia as well.

Continue reading: Anastasia (1956) Review

Spellbound (1945) Review


Good
Spellbound lands as one of Hitchcock's classics but it's far from his best work.

The entire plot is one of Hitch's more absurd (adapted from the novel The House of Dr. Edwardes). Back in 1945, the idea of psychoanalysis was just coming ito its own. Freud's ideas had really taken off, and wouldn't you know it, the time was right to make a movie based on the notion.

Continue reading: Spellbound (1945) Review

Gaslight Review


Weak
It would be mean to say that Ingrid Bergman played confused all too well, but it would nevertheless be true. Director George Cukor (My Fair Lady) likely didn't have to look too far when he was casting about for his female lead in this 1944 adaptation of Patrick Hamilton's old warhorse of a play, as he needed somebody with an imperious grace and a trusting demeanor that could easily be read as a lack of intelligence. Bergman fits the bill perfectly, playing Paula Alquist, a traumatized young British woman whose family sent her away from her London home after her aunt (an internationally famous singer whom she was living with) was found murdered. Years later, after a long stay convalescing in Italy, where she takes singing lessons in a desultory fashion, trying to emulate her dead aunt, Paula falls in love with the piano player, Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer), whom she marries after a whirlwind romance.

The seed of an idea that something is not quite right gets planted during their honeymoon, when Gregory convinces Paula - even though she's obviously still traumatized by her aunt's horrible murder - that they should move into the old London house together; he's just a little too insistent about it, in a way that would set any sane person's alarm off. But Paula goes blithely along, and they return to the house. It isn't long before Gregory is chipping away at Paula's self-confidence, convincing her that she's forgetful ("But, dear, I already told you, don't you remember?") and insinuating in a not-too-subtle manner that she's going crazy. At the same time, he's always finding excuses for them not to leave the house, Paula keeps hearing noises and wonders why the gaslight keeps inexplicably getting turned down low. All you need are hints of the dead aunt's jewelry and the longing way that Gregory stares at the Crown Jewels in a rare trip out of the house to the Tower of London, to figure out that there's a financial reward at the end of his chicanery.

Continue reading: Gaslight Review

Cactus Flower Review


OK
Ever want to see Ingrid Bergman in a romantic comedy? Now's your chance -- Cactus Flower is probably her most lighthearted role, but the poor girl's comic timing is below par, worse than Goldie Hawn's dramatic abilities. The setup here is fortunately classic: Womanizing dentist Walter Matthau wants to marry dippy Goldie Hawn, but first he has to shed the phony wife he's used in the past in order to keep clingy gals away. His prim assistant Bergman plays the faux wife, which ends up bringing her out of her repressed shell. One wonders what this could have been with Katherine Hepburn instead of Bergman.

For Whom The Bell Tolls Review


Grim
A stultifying bore, this imitation of Bridge on the River Kwai would have been long forgotten but for the fact it contains an Oscar-winning performance, with Katina Paxinou's gritty guide handily earning her award. The film earned a surprising nine nominations total, winning just the one. The film is an adaptation of Hemingway's book set during the Spanish Civil War, here with a wooden Gary Cooper sitting around in a cave while he waits to blow up a bridge. Meanwhile, he falls in love with Ingrid Bergman's communist refugee, before the fateful bell tolls. Alas, it takes nearly three hours for that to happen, with little to entertain us along the way.
Ingrid Bergman

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