60/60 Review #25: Casablanca.

I don't want to review this movie. I really, really don't want to review this movie. This film along with the very next one on this list are considered two of the greatest films ever made. And we all know what hype and expectations can do to a film's initial viewing. On top of that, it's been placed at the end of a month full of high-quality Nazi-related films, which followed a month of nothing but war-related films, so at this point it's safe to say I'm rather sick of this whole type of film. Needless to say, there was a lot going against my praising of this film.

The story of Casablanca gives us Rick (Humphrey Bogart), a tavern owner in the namesake city. It's the middle of World War II, and Casablanca is a transit town where people stop by to help get to safe harbor. Rick is someone who knows people and can help them do just that. Rick, however, is warned that a man named Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) is going to show up asking for help to leave, but he's to keep him in the city under all circumstances. Victor is traveling with a woman, as well--a woman named Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), who happens to be an old flame of Rick's. The rest is a tale to figure out what happened between them in the past and what's going to happen to them in the relatively near future.

The one thing I'll say is that this truly is a classic. I'd say the script is fantastic, but I can't tell if I'm saying that because I honestly liked it or because I've practically heard the whole thing quoted famously throughout the years. "Play it, Sam," "Here's lookin' at you, kid," "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine," "Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life," "We'll always have Paris," "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship," and more. I mean, seriously. Half the lines I just listed I didn't even realize were from this movie (I think the first 3 I knew were from this and that's it). This is an epically quoted film and for a reason. I think the bulk of my enjoyment of this movie just came from hearing these lines from the source for the first time.

The first roughly 20 minutes of the movie had me worried. Honestly, I thought it was rather dull and kind of cheesy. It wasn't until we first hear about Laszlo that things start getting interesting, and soon after that the film picks up. Continuing with that honesty, however... I didn't care all that much. Blame it on the things I mentioned in my opening paragraph. I don't know. I found about half the conversations going in one ear and out the other. Rick and Sam were the only interesting characters to me, and Sam pretty much disappears from the film about halfway through.

I'm not saying this is a bad film. Not at all. It's an incredibly well made film--obviously, considering all the accolades it gets. The cinematography is pretty dang good at times, too (I particularly liked a segment where Rick is opening a safe and all you see is his shadow). I'm just saying that it didn't grab me and pull me in. I'm glad I've seen it. I can now mark it off the list. Though I have to say, unless a particular lovely young woman wants to sit down and watch it with me, I don't see myself just putting it in because I have the urge to watch it again.

So I guess that leaves me back with how I opened this review--I really would prefer not to. Of course, I just finished doing so, which makes this statement moot. I did enjoy the movie as a whole. I enjoyed a couple characters. I enjoyed how certain backstories ended up merging together to give you the whole picture of what happened between them. I really enjoyed hearing all those classic lines in context. So yes, I enjoyed it; I just didn't love it. Bring on the pitchforks.

A Keanu 'Whoa'

(P.S. This brings us to a close on Nazi Month. This was easily my least favorite month thus far, and not solely due to the subject matter. With the exception of maybe 2-3 films, I was left feeling completely apathetic toward the majority of the films this month. And I had a couple big ones this month... so it was kind of shameful that I didn't feel the love that these movies get from practically everybody in existence. I saw their high quality, but I had such a hard time getting emotionally attached to them. Needless to say, I'm very much looking forward to a change of pace and getting away from war (as I've been dealing with for 2 months, basically) as I move into May--or, What A Twist! Month. Up next? Probably another controversially apathetic review of what's considered the greatest movie ever made. We'll see next week!)

(P.P.S. All I could think about when I saw Bogart, because this was my first Bogart film, was that he's really not a traditional looking charmer--particularly his mouth. In fact, I thought that if maybe Ray Romano stared in The Nutty Professor, Bogart would be his Buddy Love. Continue the hate mail now.)


  1. Like you, I felt slightly disappointed with the movie the first time I saw it. But over time, it has really grown to be one of my favorite classic movie.

  2. Just watched it for the first time last month and I think I liked it a little more than you. Then again, I wasn't coming off a month long Nazi-thon either. Aside from the amazing cinematography and iconic dialogue which you already mentioned, I thought Rick was a very layered and fascinating character that I could watch repeatedly.

    I think we see eye-to-eye on most classic films. So good luck with next week's pick. I predict you'll respect it for its contriubtion to film, but overall not really give a shit.

  3. I love it for the character of Rick. He is so interesting! I can't imagine watching it for the reason you did, and if I had I'm not sure what my reaction to the film would have been overall---but I'm sure I would still love Rick. "I said 22", and my heart just melted!


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