Sunday, April 17, 2011

Casablanca (1943)

"Of all the gin joints in all the world..." I want to go to Rick's!
Nominees: "For Whom the Bell Tolls" "Heaven Can Wait" "The Human Comedy" "In Which We Serve" "Madame Curie" "The More the Merrier" "The Ox-Bow Incident" "The Song of Bernadette" "Watch on the Rhine"

He Said: Here's looking at you eyelids.

Now I will admit I was going into this one with a bit of a prejudice. I am really trying hard to watch each movie with an open mind and see ones that I have already watched with a new light, but Casablanca is a movie that I remember being boring as hell. However, that was back in my University days when I was busy chasing girls and not caring about the finer things in life, let's see if things have changed a bit for me between then and now.

So what can I say about Casablanca? Well for starters you can find better acting in high school drama classes, the story is nearly non-existent and drags on for the first hour or so, and the writing is certainly sub-par at times. The pluses? The art direction and film noir is actually pretty good and the music is fun at time and sets the mood nicely. But I think I can summarize my thoughts on this film in one word: boring. This movie was just so damn boring, nothing going on here, no good story, just nothing. Thus the title for this review...I found myself actually almost falling asleep at least three times. I guess I didn't connect with the characters and the bare-bones “romance” story that was being told.

Overall, nothing glaringly awful as opposed to the first two movies we saw, this one is just sort of blah. Nothing amazing. I bet you if something similar was made these days it wouldn't even get a sniff of an Oscar, so I can only assume that the competition was light that year or people were suckers for sappy movies back then. I can't say that it doesn't deserve the 1943 best picture since I haven't seen the other films (frankly I haven't heard of any of them except For Whom the Bell Tolls), but either this was a dry year or the academy saw something that passed me by. The best thing to come out of this movie are the few quotes everyone knows: “Here's looking at you kid,” “This is the start of a beautiful relationship,” “Play it again Sam.”

I think I would rather watch the leaders debate again rather than this boring boring movie.

Next up, finally a modern movie, 2005's Crash, no not the sex Crash, the good Crash.

She Said: The Little Movie That Shouldn't Have Been Made. Literally.

It's funny how life works. Just the day before we finally sat down to watch Casablanca, I was listening to "The Age of Persuasion" on CBC Radio. The show was all about marketing movies, and it started off with... Casablanca. Apparently, this was the movie that should never be made. The script was being re-written as it was shot, the original writers quit, there were problems with the location, and Bogart and Bergman wanted out... the studio thought it was going to be a flop. The only person who believed in it was the director, and, as it turns out, he was right.

I loved this movie. It was campy, over the top, predictable, and not very action packed, but I thought it was great. It captured a certain time, and, more importantly, certain people. The world may not care a hill of beans for the problems of 3 little people, but I did. I didn't expect too: I wanted to be bored so we could go 0-3, but despite myself, I found myself actually caring about them. Sure, Ilsa is TOO tragically beautiful, Victor Lazlo TOO perfect, and Rick TOO stoic, but I couldn't help myself. The relationships between all of the characters just sparkles.

The only thing I didn't like about the whole movie was the very last scene, with Rick and Captain Renault walking off in the rain. I didn't want it to be the beginning of "a beautiful friendship", because Rick in the end is Noble and Good, whereas Captain Renault is Scheming and Self-Serving. Yes, he shot the Nazi, but big whoop: the Nazi's usefulness to him was over now that the Lazlo's escaped. Rick should've shot him, and walked off in the rain alone.

Maybe if the original writer's hadn't quit...

Verdict: Split Decision.