"Here’s looking at you, kid."
Technically, I've already watched 3 movies for this quarter, so my pacing isn't terrible. But my goal was to watch 6 movies this quarter. However, with vacationing during winter break and all that, I've been kind of busy. While I don't think 6 movies will happen, I'm shooting for 4 movies, and so hopefully I'll be able to watch another movie after this.
I really focus on characters in movies, and the development of the character throughout the movie. A couple of these movies also tend to have an indifferent protagonist with a bit of a rough edge. This shows that people gravitate towards an imperfect main character.
Casablanca is one of those movies you always hear about, but no one seems to have actually watched it. But it was pretty high up on the list of best screen written movies, and best movies in general. Some have even called it a perfect movie. But an interesting thing about the script (written by Julius Epstein, Philip Epstein, Howard Koch) is that it was only half finished when they started filming. So the script was written in a short time, and some dialogue in the scene was being written immediately before a scene. Nevertheless, the movie turned out to be a classic. The script is here.
Click HERE for Casablanca Summary
This 1942 movie is so widely known and quoted, it was intimidating for me to watch at first. I'll admit, that at the very very beginning of the movie, I was a bit out of it, and I was already having negative thoughts. "Oh man, who am I kidding, I'm not going to like this" and "I can barely understand what they're saying!". While it was hard for me to completely comprehend their old timey speech patterns, as soon as I got invested in the story, it became way easier to understand. And it didn't take very long at all for me to start getting into the story. I just had to understand the backstory, which was kind of glossed over in the movie. However, this was understandable because the movie was meant to be a type of propaganda for more support for the war in Europe at the time (this was on the heels of the Pearl Harbor bombing that led the United States into WWII). But as soon as I realized that, I was able to focus on actual plot. Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), an American expat, owns a cafe in Casablanca, and he deals with quite a few suspicious people. One day, a man named Ugarte (Peter Lorre) entrusts Rick with 2 letters of transit which he obtained from German couriers he killed. But Ugarte is arrested and it's assumed he is killed by the local police. Now, Rick is left with two letters of transit that everybody wants, because it'll grant the holder free travel around German controlled Europe and to neutral Portugal. Ricks situation is made even more confusing when his former flame Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) walks into his cafe with her husband and Czech resistance leader, Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid). Basically, Rick needs to decide if he'll give the letters of transit to Victor and Ilsa, or if he should leave Casablanca with Ilsa instead.
I think that although this has a lot of historical background, this is pretty much a romance movie. At the heart of all the corruption and political conflicts, there is a troubled love story between Rick and Ilsa. And tell you what, I really rooted for them. Even though Rick is still a tough guy, he has his sentimental side, which is constantly brought up by frenemy Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains). We learn about Rick and Ilsa's short lived fling in Paris, and we see how in love they were. After several toasts and "here's looking at you, kid"s, Ilsa ends up abandoning Rick, who moves on to Casablanca. In every scene between Ilsa and Rick, there's an obvious tension between them, which prompts an exasperated "just kiss already!!!" from the audience. Well, from me at least. As cheesy as this movie was, I'll admit it was pretty dang good. I found myself talking at the screen a lot (even more than usual) and being genuinely torn between Ilsa leaving with Laszlo or Rick. The thing is, Laszlo is actually a likable guy. Which somehow makes the whole romance between Rick and Ilsa even more unfortunate. From Rick's angry drunken rant about Ilsa leaving him to the impassioned speech he gave her at the end of the movie, Bogart puts real intense emotion into the role. And he plays Rick perfectly, a balance of not caring enough and caring too much. The other actors are great as well, the pacing in this movie is just right. I would say this movie is pretty perfect, but it's not my absolute favorite. I don't like it any less though! It was extremely satisfying to watch. I could see how other people fell in complete love with this film, and I also understand why it's so quotable. It really is something special.
"But we will tell you that the urbane detail and the crackling dialogue which has been packed into this film by the scriptwriters, the Epstein brothers and Howard Koch, is of the best. We will tell you that Michael Curtiz has directed for slow suspense and that his camera is always conveying grim tension and uncertainty. Some of the significant incidents, too, are affecting—such as that in which the passionate Czech patriot rouses the customers in Rick's cafe to drown out a chorus of Nazis by singing the Marseillaise, or any moment in which Dooley Wilson is remembering past popular songs in a hushed room. We will tell you also that the performances of the actors are all of the first order, but especially those of Mr. Bogart and Miss Bergman in the leading roles." -Bosley Crowther
This was the scene I was talking about right after Rick sees Ilsa again. He gets drunk and angry, reminiscing on their time together. Rick's resentment and sadness in this scene is so raw. Bogart did such a good job.
Although the movie is in black and white, the use of light and shadows in it was still beautiful. The film used dark film noir and expressionist lighting.
Casablanca, like all of the other movies on this list, is quoted a lot. And I think a huge reason of why this movie is quoted so much is that it's so cheesy. But it's cheesy and romantic in the best way.
The song "As Time Goes By", performed by Sam (Dooley Wilson) is the song that Rick and Ilsa loved. It's played multiple times, and I honestly think it's a really pretty song.
The ending scene to Casablanca.
This should go without saying.
Kelby Custodio, Junior at Pacifica High School.