Luke Thorne’s review published on Letterboxd:
Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman star in Michael Curtiz’s Oscar-winning classic drama as ex-lovers reunited in the World War Two tinderbox of Casablanca, where only he can save her husband’s life.
This is without any doubt not just the best movie to have been released in 1942 – not just one of the best films made during the Second World War – not just one of the best films of the 20th century – but one of the greatest films ever made.
The reputation for this movie has grown ever since it was released and I have absolutely no doubt that the reputation will continue to grow for years to come.
The movie sees Humphrey Bogart give one of his finest and most memorable performances as Rick Blaine, the man who owns a nightclub in Casablanca and discovers his old flame Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) in is town with her husband Victor (Paul Henreid).
Victor is a famed rebel and with the Germans on his tail, Ilsa knows that Rick that get them out of the country. But Rick has a decision to make – his love for his ex-girlfriend or helping her husband escape the city of Casablanca.
Humphrey Bogart is just brilliant throughout as the owner of the café and he suits his role really well, definitely making the most of the time he has on the screen.
Elsewhere, Ingrid Bergman is absolutely superb in one of her most memorable roles – arguably the best performance of her career where she was not nominated for an Academy Award. She suits the role of Ilsa so well, Rick’s ex-lover.
Paul Henreid offers very solid support as Ilsa’s husband Victor, giving of the best performances of his career. Also providing decent support are Claude Rains as Captain Louis Renault, Conrad Veidt as Major Heinrich Strasser, Sydney Greenstreet as Signor Ferrari and Peter Lorre as Signor Ugarte.
Dooley Wilson is excellent as Sam, the piano player who certainly knows how to entertain the café audience with his songs – most notably its theme song “As Time Goes By” (which Rick doesn’t like) and ‘Knock on Wood’, for which he gets a nice and well-deserved round of applause.
The direction from Curtiz is excellent because he allows the facial expressions to be seen to a very strong effect from start to finish, while the script is very well written by Julius J. Epstein, Peter G. Epstein and Howard Koch, based on the unproduced play ‘Everybody Comes to Rick’s’ by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison.
The script provides some of the memorable lines in the history of cinema, including the likes of “Here’s looking at you, kid”, “I thought I never told you to play-” and “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship”.
The technical elements of the film that stand out best in glorious black-and-white are the set, camerawork, music, editing, sound and costume, because the set is terrific to view throughout; the camera makes very good use of the locations and also captures the pleasant and tense moments well, which deservedly get the edge-of-the-seat status; the music is very enjoyable to listen to; the film is edited to an excellent standard; the sound is brilliant as you have to listen carefully; the costumes are nicely designed.
Also, the chemistry between Bogart and Bergman is very good because it shows how much they care for each other. The scenes they have together are timeless and will always be remembered.
The movie managed to win three Academy Awards – Best Picture, Best Director (Michael Curtiz) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Julius J. Epstein, Peter G. Epstein and Howard Koch) and these awards were well-deserved.
The film also rightly received nominations for: Best Actor (Humphrey Bogart), Best Supporting Actor (Claude Rains), Best Cinematography, Black-and-White (Arthur Edeson), Best Film Editing (Owen Marks) and Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Score (Max Steiner).
Overall, Casablanca is a masterpiece of cinema – no doubt about that. It’s Michael Curtiz, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman’s most memorable movie of their careers. The performances, direction, script and technical elements are all excellent! They don’t make them like this anymore. It’s so easy to understand why this is cited as one of the greatest films of all time. If you haven’t seen it, you really must!