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1943: Casablanca

[] [IMDB] [Wikipedia]

So, Casablanca. This film is known as an American classic, and long before I had ever seen this film I had heard some of the pop-culture quotes that it generated, such as "Here's looking at you, kid.", and possibly "Play it, Sam". It's also the first of these movies that I've seen before: a few years back the City of Waterloo played this movie for a surprisingly well-attended Movies in the Park. Due to the environment and noise, I was a little unclear about the ending when I saw it then.

I felt it was a little weak for being as revered as it is. It's certainly not a bad a movie, and I was entertained, amused, and even touched at parts.

The movie is set during World War II in the Moroccan city of Casablanca, where French refugees have fled from Occupied France, many in the hope of escaping to Lisbon, where they could then fly on to the United States. Rick, an expat American runs his "Rick's Café Americain", a fairly upscale establishment with entertainment and gambling and various shady goings-on. Ilsa, an old lover of his from Paris from before the occupation arrives at the café with her husband, Laszlo, a Czech resistance leader, not knowing Rick is even in Casablanca. They are looking for certain documents that will allow them to leave for Lisbon, which Rick has unwittingly come into. Tensions are tense, revelations are revealed, and antagonists antagonize.

While the tension and romance of Rick and Ilsa (and Laszlo) is charming, the corrupt official Captain Renault provides a clever and witty foil, and much of the film is better for his inclusion.

In sum, entertaining, but not fantastic, but worth seeing just to know what the fuss is (or isn't!) about.
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October 2011

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