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While I was waiting for The Ten Commandments to download last night, I whiled away the time watching Casablanca again.    I have seen this movie countless times, and for me, it was the film that motivated me into being the movie lover I am today.

 

There is a magic about this story and its production that always grips me.  Last night's viewing reminds me that this story takes me to foreign shores, yet the production never leaves Burbank, CA.  Well, maybe there's a scene at the Van Nuys airport, but again, not that far.  I still buy it.   It is such masterful production design, it hooks me everytime, even when fully aware of the actual shooting locales.  

 

Am I the only one who feels like this?  

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I've always been impressed by the fact that the movie should have been a failure -- and yet it wasn't. The screenwriters apparently were desperate to come up with an appropriate ending -- and they somehow concocted one of the great plot twists of all time.

I'm always amazed by the unforgettable movie lines, everything from "...I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray. You wore blue" to "Round up the usual suspects" to Bogart's final line. And it's always surprised me that Ingrid Bergman never considered the movie to be as special as everyone else does.

 

This thread already has whetted my appetite to see it again.

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Another thing about Casablanca that is not unique in itself,  but  an observation this movie highlights and is amazingly successful.  It has a very long opening into the actual story.   Lots of background, setting the stage.   Goes totally against many screenwriting rules we 're taught nowadays.  

 

 

  • First page packed with action to grab the audience.  
  • Showcase the star in the opening shot.
  • The premise to the story within the first five pages.

 

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At the opening, there is no clue as to where this story is going.  --other than the title.  

 

Personally, I love many of the prologues in movies.  

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Yeah, you're certainly right about the opening scene map there, Char.

 

It is MUCH better than if Curtiz would've opened the movie with THIS one instead...

 

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(...sorry, couldn't resist) ;)

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No, you're not the only one who feels like that.  One thing you gotta give Hollywood credit for.  Their backlots can look either like darkest Africa, or the small town of Willoughby.

 

They might not be able to make that movie today.  There's no way Vancouver can resemble Morocco. ;)

 

Sepiatone

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2n9mb9c.png

 

While I was waiting for The Ten Commandments to download last night, I whiled away the time watching Casablanca again.    I have seen this movie countless times, and for me, it was the film that motivated me into being the movie lover I am today.

 

There is a magic about this story and its production that always grips me.  Last night's viewing reminds me that this story takes me to foreign shores, yet the production never leaves Burbank, CA.  Well, maybe there's a scene at the Van Nuys airport, but again, not that far.  I still buy it.   It is such masterful production design, it hooks me everytime, even when fully aware of the actual shooting locales.  

 

Am I the only one who feels like this?  

 

I totally agree Casablancalover. An all time essential classic, despite its dubious beginnings. Perhaps the pinnacle of studio era movies, where artisanship in all departments combined in alchemy to cross over into art.

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Char baby, I loved Casablanca the first time I saw it, and I still do. I know exactly what you mean about it, how one can view it many times and still enjoy it.

 

What just struck me as interesting is, on another thread here, they're talking about Gone with the Wind, another old, classic, famous, well-beloved film.

 

Not to be negative (gawd forbid !) but I don't like GWTW and never much have. I'm not saying this to start a fight (how silly would that be...Gone with the Wind versus Casablanca...apples and oranges), but because it just got me thinking, how much I dislike that  one famous well-beloved etc, classic film, and love the other.

 

It is silly to compare them, and yet, now I've started, I seem to want to go on. They're both set in war-time, they're both (partly) about how war can change people and affect their lives, they're both love stories. That's where the similarities end. Casablanca is so much more economical, telling its story in a tidy yet riveting 102 minutes, while GWTW drags on and on at a wearying 238 minutes. (I realize it's based on a very loooong novel, ok....)

 

Anyway, I just brought it up because both these films are often listed as among the top 10 most famous and popular classic movies ever. One I don't care if I never see again, and the other, I cherish.

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I've always been impressed by the fact that the movie should have been a failure --

 

 

Well, I don't think that it "should have been a failure", despite everything. If anything, it should probably have not been the beloved timeless classic that it has become. Ot did have some assets going into the filming: it had two rising stars, a distinguished director helming it, a topical situation. It most likely would have turned out like the similar BACKGROUND TO DANGER, or another Bogie film made the same year, ACTION IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC......successful in their day, but not considered all time classics. Somehow the intangible magic ingredients lifted it out of the commonplace.

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Char baby, I loved Casablanca the first time I saw it, and I still do. I know exactly what you mean about it, how one can view it many times and still enjoy it.

 

What just struck me as interesting is, on another thread here, they're talking about Gone with the Wind, another old, classic, famous, well-beloved film.

 

Not to be negative (gawd forbid !) but I don't like GWTW and never much have. I'm not saying this to start a fight (how silly would that be...Gone with the Wind versus Casablanca...apples and oranges), but because it just got me thinking, how much I dislike that  one famous well-beloved etc, classic film, and love the other.

 

It is silly to compare them, and yet, now I've started, I seem to want to go on. They're both set in war-time, they're both (partly) about how war can change people and affect their lives, they're both love stories. That's where the similarities end. Casablanca is so much more economical, telling its story in a tidy yet riveting 102 minutes, while GWTW drags on and on at a wearying 238 minutes. (I realize its based on a very loooong novel, ok....)

 

Anyway, I just brought it up because both these films are often listed as among the top 10 most famous and popular classic movies ever. One I don't care if I never see again, and the other, I cherish.

It's a long long way from North Africa to Georgia but for some reason you have made the journey.......................now back to posts about Casablanca......................I love the charm and wit of the great movie but then I love (adore) both Bogie and Bergman.  They's angels!!!!!!!!!!!

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No, you're not the only one who feels like that.  One thing you gotta give Hollywood credit for.  Their backlots can look either like darkest Africa, or the small town of Willoughby.

 

They might not be able to make that movie today.  There's no way Vancouver can resemble Morocco. ;)

 

Sepiatone

It seems so, although Vancouver BC stands in for Anywhere, USA more times than it should.

 

:huh:

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It's a long long way from North Africa to Georgia but for some reason you have made the journey.......................now back to posts about Casablanca......................I love the charm and wit of the great movie but then I love (adore) both Bogie and Bergman.  They's angels!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Good stories are universal, and the geographical space between the settings of the two films has little to do with the point I was making.

 

It is kind of charming, the way at the very beginning of Casablanca, they show a map of "the theatre of war" in Europe, and then close in on Morocco and finally Casablanca, in the very likely event that people in the audience then (and now !) wouldn't know where it is.

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Thanks all for the comments.   

 

I appreciate Casablanca's style and that it is a great collaborative effort by everybody.  

 

I pick up on something each time I watch it.  Something I can do watching a DVD that I couldn't with a tape is freeze framing  to observe actual blocking of the actors.   The great closing scene with Rick (Bogie) and Capt. Renault (Rains)  is either cut to actor, or blocked so they are never really facing each other, but revealing their thoughts about the situation and what they must do next..  

 

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When they are in the shot together, they don't face each other directly, each man sort of in a non-confrontational manner.   

 

Dealing with Strasser  (Veidt)  is another matter entirely. 

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Captain Renault has to be one of Claude Rains' best roles. I can't imagine anyone else in the part. He captures a perfect blend of humour, under-statement, authority (hey, he has to convince the Germans he's serious), and a very well hidden core of decency.

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Good stories are universal, and the geographical space between the settings of the two films has little to do with the point I was making.

 

It is kind of charming, the way at the very beginning of Casablanca, they show a map of "the theatre of war" in Europe, and then close in on Morocco and finally Casablanca, in the very likely event that people in the audience then (and now !) wouldn't know where it is.

 

I agree, for Casablanca (the city, not the movie) was just getting some major press with a conference, and it does help get the audience in locale.   It is something how prologues are dissed today in storytelling.    I love 'em when establishing the environment.   

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Captain Renault has to one of Claude Rains' best roles. I can't imagine anyone else in the part. He captures a perfect blend of humour, under-statement, authority (hey, he has to convince the Germans he's serious), and a very well hidden core of decency.

 

Rains does a great job as Captain Renault.   Some of his lines are borderline camp,  but his delivery and screen persona keep them from going over the top. 

 

As for his 'hidden core of decency';  Well expect when it comes to taking advantage of young women,  married or unmarried,  with his position of power.   (oh,  and don't try to escape his jail!).

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Good stories are universal, and the geographical space between the settings of the two films has little to do with the point I was making.

 

It is kind of charming, the way at the very beginning of Casablanca, they show a map of "the theatre of war" in Europe, and then close in on Morocco and finally Casablanca, in the very likely event that people in the audience then (and now !) wouldn't know where it is.

Yes, I agree with you.  Glad you finally do as well : GWTW is a "good" story.  Just did not know why you had to travel from North Africa to Georgia to attempt to diss on GWTW yet again.  I prefer Casablanca to GWTW too but will not diss on the great GWTW.

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Well, I don't think that it "should have been a failure", despite everything. It had two rising stars, a distinguished director helming it, a topical situation. It most likely would have turned out like the similar BACKGROUND TO DANGER, or another Bogie film made the same year, ACTION IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC......successful in their day, but not considered all time classics. Somehow the intangible magic ingredients lifted it out of the commonplace.

 

You can say that now because it's "CASABLANCA." But until it was released, it's possible that few people realized exactly what they had. Plus, the two rising stars were an afterthought. The lead roles originally were intended for George Raft (and then Ronald Reagan) and Ann Sheridan. Also, the writers seemed to be making it up as they went along. And one of the rising stars went to her grave never really understanding moviegoers' fascination with it.

But the "Casablanca" screenwriters' decision to "Round up the usual suspects" and the "intangible magic ingredients" you mentioned saved the day.

 

 

It's exactly what the great screenwriter William Goldman expressed in his 1983 book "Adventures in the Screen Trade." "Nobody knows anything," he wrote, referring to predictions on how well a film will do before it is released. 

 

It was the same for James Cameron's "Titanic," which was beset by financial and technical problems during its filming in Mexico. Of course, it went on to become the highest-grossing picture of all time. And it's a strong No. 2 today behind Cameron's "Avatar."

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Capt. Renault's character is one of movies best sidekicks ever.  He is quite the womanizer, without him ever touching a woman onscreen, and in fact, having to be quite devious about it when with a woman, particularly when she's with her husband...  

 

 

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I have always wondered if this was his original bio as character, for his side plots in the movie contribute very little to the actual story of Ilsa, Victor and Rick, since Louis and Rick are not competing for Ilsa.    I guess just another way of establishing Louis as not an antagonist but a protagonist, yet not gay for not wanting Ilsa for himself. UNLESS, it is all just a buildup for the charming and nervous Helmut Dantine to win at roulette,  thus providing the foretaste of Rick's ability to bend rules for the greater good.

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Rains does a great job as Captain Renault.   Some of his lines are borderline camp,  but his delivery and screen persona keep them from going over the top. 

 

As for his 'hidden core of decency';  Well expect when it comes to taking advantage of young women,  married or unmarried,  with his position of power.   (oh,  and don't try to escape his jail!).

 

That's why I said "VERY WELL-HIDDEN core of decency."

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I hardly ever read books that were sequels to the movie written many years later.  The book 'Scarlett' was written after 'GWTW', same with 'Rhett Butlers People'.  ''The book 'Cosette' was written after 'Les Miserables'.  I found 'As Time Goes By' written by Michael Walsh a very good book though written 50 years after 'Casablanca'.  It tells the prequel and the sequel to the movie.   

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Oh dear,  I have already purchased two books this week, and now here's another interesting suggestion.   I am currently reading both Rebecca and Now, Voyager.   Book reports on another thread will be following..

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You can say that now because it's "CASABLANCA." But until it was released, it's possible that few people realized exactly what they had. Plus, the two rising stars were an afterthought. The lead roles originally were intended for George Raft (and then Ronald Reagan) and Ann Sheridan. Also, the writers seemed to be making it up as they went along. And one of the rising stars went to her grave never really understanding moviegoers' fascination with it.

But the "Casablanca" screenwriters' decision to "Round up the usual suspects" and the "intangible magic ingredients" you mentioned saved the day.

 

 

It's exactly what the great screenwriter William Goldman expressed in his 1983 book "Adventures in the Screen Trade." "Nobody knows anything," he wrote, referring to predictions on how well a film will do before it is released.

 

It was the same for James Cameron's "Titanic," which was beset by financial and technical problems during its filming in Mexico. Of course, it went on to become the highest-grossing picture of all time. And it's a strong No. 2 today behind Cameron's "Avatar."

It stands to reason, despite everything, CASABLANCA would have done well in the early war years, as domestic audiences needing escapism from the daily depressing news flocked to the movies, and almost every movie made.money. Even with Raft and Sheridan, since both popular stars back then, especially Sheridan (Reagan had gone off to war), it probably would have done well. While it would most likely have not become a classic, it most likely would have not have been a a flop, as.you imply. It would have been just another unheralded programmer, off the studio assembly line, making money and then forgotten.

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That's why I said "VERY WELL-HIDDEN core of decency."

 

I feel it is so well hidden it doesn't exist.   He was willing to sell out his own people for money and women,  demanded and accepted bribes,  look the other way and allow the Germans to kill citizen's under his care,  etc..

 

To me the ending just doesn't add up with him all of a sudden having a change of heart.   While this leads to a funny ending scene when he says 'round up the usual suspects',   it just doesn't add up that he wouldn't rat out Rick to the Germans.

 

If there was a sequel,  he would of shot Rick in the back for the reward money.

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It stands to reason, despite everything, CASABLANCA would have done well in the early war years, as domestic audiences needing escapism from the daily depressing news flocked to the movies, and almost every movie made money. Even with Raft and Sheridan, since both popular stars back then, especially Sheridan (Reagan had gone off to war), it probably would have done well. While it would most likely have not become a classic, it most likely would have not have been a a flop, as you imply. It would have been just another unheralded programmer, off the studio assembly line, making money and then forgotten.

 

We'll never know for sure about that. But thank goodness, the movie did work artistically and financially -- and with a stellar cast!

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I feel it is so well hidden it doesn't exist.   He was willing to sell out his own people for money and women,  demanded and accepted bribes,  look the other way and allow the Germans to kill citizen's under his care,  etc..

 

To me the ending just doesn't add up with him all of a sudden having a change of heart.   While this leads to a funny ending scene when he says 'round up the usual suspects',   it just doesn't add up that he wouldn't rat out Rick to the Germans.

 

If there was a sequel,  he would of shot Rick in the back for the reward money.

 

I strongly disagree. They wouldn't have made Captain Renaud so likable if the audience was meant to see him as you do. It's true, much of that likability comes from Claude Rains himself - an eminently likable actor, even when he does play a bad guy (like Prince John).

I do not feel Renaud is about to do any of the heinous deeds you suggest at any point in the film - with the exception of accepting bribes, but for some reason that strikes me as more amusing than despicable.The bit about him wanting beautiful women to trade sex with him for safe passage out of Casablanca is more like a running joke than a reality.

One of the reasons Casablanca is such a great film is because, regardless of how the plot looks on paper, it all adds up, it all makes sense and feels satisfying to the viewer. I guess this movie is not one of your favourites if you have problems with the believability of one of its most important characters.

 

I've noticed before (I think it was in a discussion about Sunset Boulevard), you can be very **** movie characters, very judgemental of their moral behaviour. I am free of such an incumbrance; I either like the characters or I don't, and to be honest, their moral behaviour often has very little to do with it. 

I don't hold up such high standards for fictional (or even real life) characters.

 

Edit: This is hilarious. I said "you can be very  "h a r d  o n" characters, and the auto censor astericked it out, thinking I was using the common slang term for the state Priapus was always in.

Edited by EdithsHead

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