We’ll Always Have Paris

So Casablanca just turned 75. She wears it well.

I always feel a bit cliche telling people that Casablanca is my all time favorite movie. It seems almost like a cop out. Who wouldn’t love Casablanca? But no other film has captured me as this one does. It doesn’t matter the circumstances, I find it mesmerizing. I can’t look away. If you ever need to distract me for an hour and forty minutes, turn on Casablanca, say “hey look!” And I’ll still be glued to the screen right up to the end.

I get caught up in the story, of course, but each viewing is a new opportunity to mine for gems I’ve missed in previous viewings. Clever bits of dialog, implications and double meanings I didn’t catch before, subtle bits of characterization by the actors. Like studying Shakespeare, Casablanca always has something new for me.

Years ago, I worked at a large church. The senior pastor’s father had actually done film lighting for one of the studios during the black and white era, and he used to say that we’ve lost the art of lighting films. There are a number of black and whites where the truth of this is really striking. It Happened One Night comes immediately to mind. This is another area where Casablanca excels. A couple of Christmases back, Brandy bought me a new copy on bluray, and I was stunned. It was like seeing a whole new movie…

I could ramble on for hours, telling you about the snappy dialog, the incredible performances from Humphrey Bogart, of course, and Claude Rains, or bury you in little bits of interesting trivia (like Ingrid Bergman not getting to see how the story ended until they shot the final scene: Rick or Lazlo, even she didn’t know!). But that would all be a waste of your time. Just go watch the movie. It’s so well worth it.

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