Casablanca ★★★★★

I'm not really sure why I had this rated as a 3 1/2 without a review. I think it might have been one of those movies that I just gut-rated when I first joined Letterboxd, but I'm pretty sure I hadn't seen it in at least 15 years or so. We just saw an afternoon/brunch screening of it at the local Alamo Drafthouse, and it is every bit the classic masterpiece that it has the reputation of being.

Bogart is actually my least favorite part of this movie, and rather than being a Bogart/Bergman film, it works best to me as an amazing ensemble. All of the actors in this — Rains, Henried, Veidt, Lorre, and all the smaller roles from Sam to Yvonne to Sascha the bartender to Karl the accountant to the pickpocket guy — give this world a lot more life than a studio production of this era typically provides. I had forgotten about most of these characters, to be honest, and watching it on the big screen oddly enough helped me appreciate their performances more.

The story is so refined, so clean, so perfect that, since it's been referenced and quoted and parodied so many times in the past eight decades, that we can easily forget how well-crafted it is. Which is a miracle, given its production. The final version that made it to screen has no flab at all, nothing unnecessary at all. As Peter Bogdanovich once said, it — and The Third Man — are the perfect non-auteur movies. For the first time, maybe, I fully understood what that meant. It's not a grand directorly vision we're watching here, we're just seeing a bunch of people all working at their prime, on a well-written script, and under the direction of a pro.

Great movie. Watch it again if you haven't seen it in a while, ideally with an audience.

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