Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Casablanca (1942)

#9: Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)

We've been at this for awhile and I'm tired, plus this one falls in the category of Everybody Already Said It. Therefore I'm going to take the easy way out and point to a review I wrote for my blog last spring. Maybe you can find something new in that. The short version: I've been watching Casablanca nearly all of my adult life, starting back when it was cut to pieces for commercial breaks on late-night broadcast TV, and I've been all over the map: in thrall to its screenplay, both at the level of the endlessly witty and quotable dialogue (the clip at the link is reasonably representative) and also at the level of its densely plotted structure ... and contemptuous of (or maybe I should dial that back to saddened by) its "of the times" racism and sexism. Mostly I have loved it. The last time I looked I liked it fine. I even thought I saw a way of looking at it that cleared up the sexism, maybe. People will be looking at Casablanca for as long as they remember Humphrey Bogart and World War II and the movies—that is, approximately until Cormac McCarthy's The Road becomes reality. Or, as the headline for a story about a Bogart retrospective we once ran in the college paper I worked at put it: "Here's kids looking at you, Bogey." Forever.

"I like to think that you killed a man—it's the romantic in me."

Casablanca review

Phil #9: On the Waterfront (Elia Kazan, 1954) (scroll down)
Steven #9: A Streetcar Named Desire (Elia Kazan, 1951)

I was off my feed that week for some reason—real-life complications, deadlines bearing down, or some such. Plus, I don't know, how many different ways (and how many different times) can you say Casablanca is an amazing fucking movie? I might have felt a little embarrassed or defensive picking it—it's one of the corny obvious choices, but then I have already demonstrated I don't stint on them, so who knows. Took the easy way, as I said.

I finally saw A Streetcar Named Desire a little while back (at about the time I was also getting first looks at Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) and had a hard time connecting with it. I think it might be a Tennessee Williams problem (I know Virginia Woolf is not Williams so maybe it's a post-WWII American theater problem). On the Waterfront—I believe Phil's choice here was intended to complement Steven's, with the matching Brando performances—has also been a favorite of mine though it has been too many years since I've taken a look again and I may have been a little disappointed with it the last time. On the stacks.

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