Casablanca: It’s a Classic for a Reason

Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in a romant...

Image via Wikipedia

The interesting characters, terrific music and great writing made “Casablanca” an instant classic. This romantic drama justly claims its spot as one of the most well loved films of all time.

The story takes place in Casablanca, ruled by the Nazi-sympathetic Vichy French, a stop refugees fleeing war-ridden Europe make on their way to Lisbon. Rick’s Café Americain, owned by cynical American Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), entertains refugees, Vichy, and Nazi officials. One night his past lover, Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman), walks back into his life on the arm of her husband, famous war protester and Nazi concentration camp escapee, Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid).

Rick deals with the heightened Nazi interest in his business as well as his feelings for Ilsa. Events unfold and the suspense grows until Rick must choose between saving himself and saving his competition and symbol of hope for many, Laszlo.

In this role, Bogart adds both humor and drama to the story. A seemingly bitter, selfish character (“I stick my neck out for nobody”), Rick’s relationships with Ilsa, Laszlo, Sam (Dooley Wilson) and Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains) reveal the softer side of the hardened man. As Renault puts it, “under that cynical shell I expect you’re a sentimentalist.”

Bergman looks and sounds radiant in the black-and-white film. In scene after scene, the audience basks in her glowing face and soft speech. Her character, however, teeters between her love for Rick and her love for Laszlo. Her inability to choose becomes increasingly annoying until she makes Rick choose for her.

Casablanca would not be the same without music. One of the most memorable scenes features the musical duel between the French national anthem and a German folk song. This poignant scene fills the audiences with a sense of the Allie patriotism that was universal during the war.

The best part of the movie, the dialogue, must be attributed to the writers, Julius and Philip Epstein and Howard Koch. Great lines like “I came for the waters. (We’re in a desert) I was misinformed,” “Here’s to you kid” and “Loiue, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” are only a few of the memorable quotes that are still used and reused today.

“Casablanca,” the WWII romantic drama directed by Michael Curtiz, became a classic for a reason. With interesting characters, beautiful music, and great dialogue, the movie secured a place for itself in the hearts of millions of Americans.

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