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Casablanca

Director: Michael Curtiz

1942. Black and white. 102 mins.


The much-loved Casablanca has come to epitomise the classic Hollywood studio picture at its best. Ironically, its ‘perfect’ blend of elements-story, casting, music, studio artifice-seems to have resulted from one of those happy accidents that occasionally makes for a great movie. The film’s turbulent production involved constant rewrites and radical changes in casting, with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman replacing Ronald Reagan and Ann Sheridan. Fortunately, director Michael Curtiz was on hand to give fate a helping hand in making the film one of Hollywood’s most memorable romantic melodramas. The familiar narrative focuses on themes of lost love, honour and self-sacrifice in an exotic wartime setting. Bogart is the cynical night-club owner in Casablanca who has a fateful meeting with the lover he left behind in Paris. She is now married to a French Resistance fighter who is hunted by the Nazis, and Bogart has to decide whether or not to help the couple escape to freedom. Casablanca must have appeared romantic and nostalgic even in 1942 and now seems like a timeless classic about the triumph of civilised values
in a cruel world.

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