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CASABLANCA

Director: MICHAEL CURTIZ

U.S.A. • 1942 • BLACK AND WHITE • 102 MIN


YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS. BLACK-AND-WHITE HOLLYWOOD’S MOST SWOONSOME DRAMA OF CURDLED ROMANCE AND DIVIDED LOYALTIES RETURNS IN A NEW PRINT.
A long-standing favourite in all-time best lists, Michael Curtiz’s drama of anxious ex-pats in WWII Morocco almost stands as a compendium of favourite elements from the studio era: night-club owner Bogey’s charismatically world-weary as only he knew how, old flame Ingrid Bergman projects a captivating hauteur and sensuality, and her new man, resistance leader Paul Henreid, takes care of the noble sentiments. There’s a classic song in Dooley Wilson’s definitive rendition of ‘As Time Goes By’, some of the greatest character actors known to man—not least Claude Rains’s wily French police officer—and even a famous line we’ve all misquoted umpteen times. You tell us if anyone actually says ‘Play it again, Sam’. What’s not to like? It’s wonderful, of course, as any firsttimers in the audience will doubtless concur. Yet, after sundry afternoon TV viewings, when you find yourself reciting a goodly part of the Epstein brothers’ deathless dialogue, you’d be forgiven for wondering if the endless anthologising of this much-loved celluloid ‘greatest hit’ isn’t spoiling the movie through over-familiarity, and indeed distracting our attention from other perhaps equally worthy Hollywood gems from the same era— Bergman is arguably even more striking in Hitchcock’s Notorious, the Bogart performance is surely in Nick Ray’s In A Lonely Place. Our ongoing affection for Casablanca is indeed ‘a beautiful friendship’, but isn’t it time to start eyeing up some of the other talent whence it came? —Trevor Johnston.

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