Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB. USA, 1942. Warner Bros.. Screenplay by Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, Howard Koch, based on the play Everybody Comes To Rick’s by Murray Burnett, Joan Alison. Cinematography by Arthur Edeson. Produced by Hal B. Wallis. Music by Max Steiner. Production Design by Carl Jules Weyl. Costume Design by Orry-Kelly. Film Editing by Owen Marks. Academy Awards 1943.
Here’s another one of those rare classics that actually deserves its status among the greatest films ever made: in Casablanca, intrigue, romance and a colourful cast all conspire to make one of the richest and most entertaining viewing experiences you’ve ever encountered. Humphrey Bogart plays an acidic bar owner in Morocco during World War II who is constantly embroiled in the various dealings of his customers, mostly because political refugees go through the city in order to obtain visas for safer travel far away from Nazi Germany. Trouble comes when his ex-girlfriend (Ingrid Bergman) who jilted him without reason shows up with a new husband (Paul Henreid), both of them in need of documentation to fly them safely to America; Bogie can’t decide whether to be a good Samaritan or get revenge on the woman who broke his heart. One of the multitudinous things that separates this brilliant classic from its contemporaries is just how cool its stars are: Bogart is no ode-spewing romantic leading man, and Bergman is no silly heiress in need of a good kiss and an engagement ring. These are burnt-out people, thrown about by life’s experiences and tired of beating around the bush. This refreshing quality is something that all imitators of the film have never quite captured (To Have And Have Not may have introduced the world to Lauren Bacall, but it was never this good a movie). The film also boasts one of the best ensemble supporting casts ever, all put to good use by the perfect screenplay Julius and Philip Epstein and Howard Koch (based on an unproduced play called Everybody Comes To Rick’s by Murray Burnett and Joan Allison).