Review by Michael Jacobson
Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Raines, Dooley
Wilson, Peter Lorre, Sidney Greenstreet, Conrad Veidt
Director: Michael Curtiz
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 102 Minutes
Release Date: August 5, 2003
I said I would never leave you…”
you never will.”
the toughest job for a movie critic is to write about a film that’s been so
discussed, mulled over, analyzed and praised over the decades that it seems like
there’s nothing more to say. Citizen
Kane was one such movie. Casablanca
is another. In fact, consider
those movies one and two on the list of films that everybody’s had a say
about, and feel free to rank them in the order that most suits you.
films are remembered fondly, some barely, some not at all.
Not many seem as large today or even larger than they did ten or twenty
years ago. That’s perhaps the
quintessential compliment you can bestow on Casablanca.
It’s been over sixty years now, and everybody still comes to
film transformed Humphrey Bogart from movie star and respected actor into a
permanent living legend. It made a
little known Swedish actress named Ingrid Bergman into the screen’s most noted
luminous beauty. It made a monster
hit and all time instantly recognizable classic out of a lovely but destined to
be forgotten tune called “As Time Goes By”.
And, perhaps more than any other picture in history, it’s the one where
almost every single line is a classic and continues to be quoted profusely.
about the film signifies “classic”, from the terrific performances to the
dramatic, moving (and frequently funny) screenplay, to the sure handed director
of Michael Curtiz, to the soaring score by Max Steiner, to the expressive
photography, exotic locale, and timing of the picture, as America was entering
into World War II and patriotic but troubled citizens across the land were
searching for hope.
on an unproduced play, the movie brings us into the heart of Casablanca in
French Morocco. The Nazis had
occupied France already, with eyes on Britain and eventually America.
Refugees from Europe poured into the desert city with hopes of getting
out. But the Nazi stranglehold on
the town was strengthening. It took either a lot of money or considerable contacts to
escape…and sometimes both simply weren’t enough.
against this backdrop of international flavor and political intrigue that one of
cinema’s greatest love stories unfolds…how American expatriate Rick (Bogart)
meets up with his one time love Ilsa (Bergman) years after she vanished from his
arms without an explanation. But
old wounds don’t heal quickly, and new twists don’t help them close:
Ilsa is and was married to Victor (Henreid), whom she once believed dead
but who survived to become one of Europe’s most famous resistance leaders
against the Nazis. To get out of
Casablanca and to America would mean the furthering of Victor’s work on an
international level. But can two
star crossed lovers see beyond their hearts and pasts to look toward a future
and events that are bigger than both of them?
if you’re like the millions of fans who have embraced this movie and cherished
it over the years as I have, I don’t have to tell you the answer.
If you’re not one of them, then you really should pick up this terrific
DVD and see what you’ve been missing.
version of Casablanca’s shooting script actually contained the phrase
“Here’s looking at you, kid”. Modern
historians attribute the now classic line as Bogart’s own addition to the
nice to see Warner Bros.’ name back on one of their most beloved classic
films. This digital transfer looks
marvelous. The black and white
photography seems more stunning than ever, with expressive lighting, deep blacks
and clean whites. The print itself
is in remarkable condition. There
are few minor telltale signs of aging here and there; marks on the print in some
of the darkest shots, or a bit of noticeable grain in the margins, but these are
small points. Fans and purists
should be more than pleased with this effort.
a simple mono track, the Dolby Digital presentation is startlingly clear for a
60 year old picture, with dialogue and effects intact and Steiner’s score
sounding more potent and dynamic than ever.
Again, well deserved high marks.
double disc set is an absolute treasure trove for Casablanca fans and
lovers of classic movies in general. Disc
One features an introduction by Lauren Bacall, aka Mrs. Bogart, plus two
terrific audio commentaries. The
first is by film critic Roger Ebert, the second is by historian Rudy Behlmer…arguably
the two best men to ask for in providing commentary for an all time landmark
film. Both are fresh, enjoyable and
informative listens…Ebert in particular manages to point out an amusing take
on a plot point or two that I had never considered before…priceless!
The disc is rounded out by original and re-release trailers for the
Two features two stellar documentaries. Owners
of the original MGM release will recognize “You Must Remember This”, but
will appreciate the chance to view it again fresh.
New to the package is “Bacall on Bogart”, which may be the most
comprehensive documentary on Humphrey Bogart’s career ever produced.
Filled with film clips (even many early rare ones), interviews and
remembrances, this is an indispensable resource for film students and fans
are some deleted scenes and outtakes (missing audio tracks, unfortunately, but
with subtitles from the original script added), the premier episode from the
1955 television series Casablanca, a radio production of Casablanca featuring
Bogie, Bergman and Henreid, a scoring session gallery, production history
gallery with photos press materials, studio correspondence and more, plus DVD
ROM extras. One of my favorite
extras, however, was the hilarious Warner Bros. cartoon short Carrotblanca, with
Bugs Bunny and friends offering one of the most side-splitting spoofs you’ll
One of the greatest movies ever made is now also one of the year’s most prolific must-own DVDs. Here’s looking at another 60 years of Casablanca.