I watched Casablanca the other night on Turner Classic Movies. Every time I watch this movie I find more subtleties to marvel at. I think I can say that this is my favorite movie. Three weeks from now I may change my mind but for now I’m going to declare Casablanca the winner.
I love great writing and this movie has it in spades. It’s rare that great writing can overcome bad acting or that great actors can overcome bad material. Not necessary here. This movie has both as well as great direction and cinematography. The acting is understated, no scenery chewing. Bogart builds his character with the way he carries himself and with fleeting expressions than any amount of words could convey.
This movie could have been a hasty collection of cliche’s. After all these years it should have become a cliche. But it has not. It’s a masterpiece.
It strikes me that Rick Blaine became the prototype for a character, cold, hard bitten, cynical, on the wrong side of the law, caring for no one but himself, but underneath all that a heart that is on the side of the oppressed. The character that comes to mind when I think about Rick Blaine is Han Solo. There are a lot of similarities. You know in the confrontation between Rick and Major Strasser it was Rick that shot first.