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CASABLANCA
1942 - Michael Curtiz
United States
78
Opening Shot

With the visual aid of a globe, a narrator fills the viewer in on the background of a refugee trail during World War 2. It is lead towards Casablanca in the French Morocco. "Here the fortunate ones through money or influence or luck might obtain exit visas and scurry to Lisbon. And from Lisbon to the New World. But the others wait in Casablanca. And wait and wait and wait."

The Film

Here is a film everyone can admire and it is easy to see why it has stood the test of time among the most beloved classics in American film. It is worthy of every ounce of praise it receives! Casablanca is pure old-fashioned Hollywood Studio filmmaking at it's most perfect. It has everything a 40s Hollywood Studio film needs: great stars, heavy romance, Americans as heroes, Nazi's as villains, and a bittersweet and moral ending. It's Hollywood studio filmmaking at it's most magical. Star-driven, escapist quality that you just can't resist. Casablanca has it all while never becoming corny or unbelievable. Everybody knows the story, everybody knows the song, and the dialogue is still used in everyday conversation. Casablanca is truly a perfect film: the settings, acting (particularly by Ingrid Bergman who's as radiant as ever!), cinematography, and of course, the dialogue. Also, nothing forced. It's a great film, without "trying" to be great, which allows all viewers to appreciate it. The entire cast is outstanding. One of the underlying themes of the film is friendship and this is further captured in the chemistry amongst this cast. Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart are each given their individual star entrances and they indeed shine, but it is the strong supporting roles (be it Claude Rains, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Dooley Wilson, or Conrad Veidt) that help preserve this film as the classic it is. Images and of course dialogue of this film stay with you long afterwards. One of the aspects that has made this film such an endearing classic is that it is the small details that are most memorable as visual reminders whether it's those big hats, the fog, the planes, the wines glasses, there is always some sort of object that you can visually recall about the film. Casablanca represents a great power of cinema: magical escapism. It's a film that transcends the viewer to a fascinating place and time. Truly a classic film that connects on all emotional levels, and will never be forgotten, even as "time goes by." There's not much more to say then what's already been said about this beloved classic. Simply put, it's one of the greatest films ever made in Hollywood! "Here's looking at you kid."

The Filmmaker

Born Mano Kertesz Kaminer in Hungary, Michael Curtiz was one of the most prolific filmmakers of the Hollywood studio system. He changed his name to Michael Curtiz upon arriving to Hollywood in 1926, after already directing over 50 films in Europe. In Hollywood, Curtiz would go on to direct over 100 films in a career that lasted up until his death in 1962. His most successful period came in the late 1930s early 1940s, starting with his adventure films starring Errol Flynn. Curtiz was not of the "auteur" class of John Ford, Raoul Walsh, Preston Sturges, or Howard Hawks, but he was one of the best hired studio directors, usually directing between two and four films each year. Above all he was able to capture whatever genre he was working with, and most importantly, Curtiz was able to capture the style, look, and feel of Warner Brothers pictures- which was a key in the studio era. Curtiz won the Academy Award as Best Director for Casablanca (1942) and was nominated for the award four other times: Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), Four Daughters (1938), and as a write-in nomination for Captain Blood (1935). After he left Warner Brothers in 1954, Curtiz worked as a freelance director for studios, but never reached the same level of success.

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Resources
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