Evan Saathoff’s review:
It's been a long time since I fell head over heels in love with a film. Even the REALLY good films I've seen lately like Some Like it Hot or The Third Man didn't quite hit my spot the way Casablanca did. I knew right away, this was one of the big ones for me.
I heard Dan Harmon once say that his hope for Community was to create a bunch of characters who could host their own individual shows. I don't think the Community characters are nearly that interesting, but I can honestly say I'd watch individual movies for just about every Casablanca character. I liked him all immensely. My favorite is either Carl the overweight Maitre D' or Claude Rains' Renault. Probably Claude Rains. But even if they weren't in the film, it wouldn't necessarily kill the film. There'd still be a handful of other characters to enjoy.
I've never seen Humphrey Bogart in a film. Not to bluntly state the obvious but he was cool as shit. I always thought he looked kind of lame, but seeing him in this changed my mind drastically. Now I get it and hopefully will be watching a bunch more of his films. Sabrina and The African Queen are a lot higher on my must see list than they were two days ago.
It's not just the acting that makes Casablanca shine, but the setting and the writing. As an American living in Taiwan (just a horrible, absurd country), I especially identified with the idea that getting back home supercedes all other concerns in life. But Casablanca (and Rick's bar in particular) teems with interesting activity. I didn't want the film to end as I'd love to sit and listen to these characters scheme all day long.
But the writing is probably the number one win for Casablanca. Everyone in the film is smart. Not just witty dialog-wise, but intelligent. And the audience needs to be intelligent, too. So when the pickpocket we're already familiar with accidentally bumps into Carl, we know why he quickly checks his pockets, but we also learn that Carl knows what's up too.
The film's wit makes it feel completely contemporary. I laughed a few times, but mostly I was silently engrossed by the back and forth one liners and come backs. It's a really funny film. The only moments that reminded me I was watching an IMPORTANT MOVIE were those that pop culture has take as its own for all time.
It really is one of the great films. I loved every moment and I can't wait to watch it a bunch more times.