Richard’s Year of Movies — Casablanca
June 10, 2010 2 Comments
Thanks to our friend Alex, we rectified a glaring hole in my wife’s cinematic repertoire — she’d never seen Casablanca.
But in a way, she already had. It’s been a while since I’ve watched it, and it’s astounding when you realize how much of that film has seeped into the popular culture. Hannah remarked on how many lines she already knew, but that she never realized came from the film. You’ve got “Here’s looking at you, kid,” “We’ll always have Paris,” “Round up the usual suspects,” “I’m shocked, SHOCKED to find gambling going on in this establishment,” “Of all the gin joints in all the world…” and “Play it again, Sam, ” even though that’s not the actual line. It’s one of those rare films where people who’ve never seen it can probably give you a fair synopsis just from the bits they’ve seen over the years.
What struck me this time was how much Claude Rains rules in this movie. The guy is just charismatic as hell, and looks like he had the time of his life playing the role. The absolute glee with which he wanders around Rick’s club knowingly tweaking all the shady characters is a joy to watch, especially since we know he’s not too many notches above them. It’s a great performance.
I also love the way the film just drops you into Casablanca and the chaos of the city. People trying to get out, people trying to take advantage of them, they’re all sketched brilliantly and efficiently, and it doesn’t hurt that there’s tons of great character actors like Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet to liven things up. It really creates a sense of the place, without which I don’t think the story (which is fairly ordinary) would have been as memorable. Throw in Bogart at his most magnetic and an absolutely stunning Ingrid Bergman and you can’t help but be wrapped up in it.
Hannah whipped up a little pseudo-Moroccan feast for the evening and we sprawled out on the floor with pillows and blankets and tried to make with the decadence. Of course, we had the AC on, so it wasn’t quite the exact Middle Eastern experience, but it was 87 degrees and some concessions had to be made. After the movie, talked turned to other classic films Hannah and Alex hadn’t seen, and I can see I have my work cut out for me. But next time, it’s our turn to educate Alex, as she’s never seen Singin’ in the Rain. For that one, we may break some pipes so it’s raining in the apartment.