Review by Michael Jacobson
Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Raines, Dooley
Wilson, Peter Lorre, Sidney Greenstreet, Conrad Veidt December 2, 2008
Director: Michael Curtiz
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 102 Minutes
December 2, 2008
I said I would never leave you…”
you never will.”
the toughest job for a movie critic is to write about a film that’s been so
discussed, mulled over, analyzed and praised over the decades that it seems like
there’s nothing more to say. Citizen
Kane was one such movie. Casablanca
is another. In fact, consider
those movies one and two on the list of films that everybody’s had a say
about, and feel free to rank them in the order that most suits you.
films are remembered fondly, some barely, some not at all.
Not many seem as large today or even larger than they did ten or twenty
years ago. That’s perhaps the
quintessential compliment you can bestow on Casablanca.
It’s been over 65 years now, and everybody still comes to
film transformed Humphrey Bogart from movie star and respected actor into a
permanent living legend. It made a
little known Swedish actress named Ingrid Bergman into the screen’s most noted
luminous beauty. It made a monster
hit and all time instantly recognizable classic out of a lovely but destined to
be forgotten tune called “As Time Goes By”.
And, perhaps more than any other picture in history, it’s the one where
almost every single line is a classic and continues to be quoted profusely.
about the film signifies “classic”, from the terrific performances to the
dramatic, moving (and frequently funny) screenplay, to the sure handed director
of Michael Curtiz, to the soaring score by Max Steiner, to the expressive
photography, exotic locale, and timing of the picture, as America was entering
into World War II and patriotic but troubled citizens across the land were
searching for hope.
on an unproduced play, the movie brings us into the heart of Casablanca in
French Morocco. The Nazis had
occupied France already, with eyes on Britain and eventually America.
Refugees from Europe poured into the desert city with hopes of getting
out. But the Nazi stranglehold on
the town was strengthening. It took either a lot of money or considerable contacts to
escape…and sometimes both simply weren’t enough.
It’s against this backdrop of international flavor and political intrigue that one of cinema’s greatest love stories unfolds…how American expatriate Rick (Bogart) meets up with his one time love Ilsa (Bergman) years after she vanished from his arms without an explanation. But old wounds don’t heal quickly, and new twists don’t help them close.
Ilsa is and was married to Victor (Henreid), whom she once believed dead
but who survived to become one of Europe’s most famous resistance leaders
against the Nazis. To get out of
Casablanca and to America would mean the furthering of Victor’s work on an
international level. But can two
star crossed lovers see beyond their hearts and pasts to look toward a future
and events that are bigger than both of them?
if you’re like the millions of fans who have embraced this movie and cherished
it over the years as I have, I don’t have to tell you the answer.
If you’re not one of them, then you really should pick up this terrific
collector's set and see what you’ve been missing.
version of Casablanca’s shooting script actually contained the phrase
“Here’s looking at you, kid”. Modern
historians attribute the now classic line as Bogart’s own addition to the
I've been anxious to see how some truly classic films would play out on Blu-ray, and this is a perfect one to start with. Warner has delivered this seminal film in a terrific 1080p black and white transfer that maintains the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. I immediately surfed to some of the darker scenes, and found the contrast improved...more detail, less grain, though some grain is naturally inherent in the stock. For a 65 year old picture, this high definition offering is a lovely revelation.
a simple mono track, the Dolby Digital presentation is startlingly clear for a
60 year old picture, with dialogue and effects intact and Steiner’s score
sounding more potent and dynamic than ever.
Again, well deserved high marks.
This incredible collector's set is an absolute treasure trove for Casablanca fans and lovers of classic movies in general. There's an introduction by Lauren Bacall, aka Mrs. Bogart, plus two terrific audio commentaries. The first is by film critic Roger Ebert, the second is by historian Rudy Behlmer…arguably the two best men to ask for in providing commentary for an all time landmark film. Both are fresh, enjoyable and informative listens…Ebert in particular manages to point out an amusing take on a plot point or two that I had never considered before…priceless!
It continues on with two stellar documentaries. Owners
of the original MGM release will recognize “You Must Remember This”, but
will appreciate the chance to view it again fresh.
“Bacall on Bogart” may be the most
comprehensive documentary on Humphrey Bogart’s career ever produced.
Filled with film clips (even many early rare ones), interviews and
remembrances, this is an indispensable resource for film students and fans
A featurette with the appropriate title "As Time Goes By" has interviews
with the son and daughter of Bogart and Bergman respectively, reflecting back on
what the film meant to their famous parents!
A featurette with the appropriate title "As Time Goes By" has interviews with the son and daughter of Bogart and Bergman respectively, reflecting back on what the film meant to their famous parents!
are some deleted scenes and outtakes (missing audio tracks, unfortunately, but
with subtitles from the original script added), the premier episode from the
1955 television series Casablanca, a radio production of Casablanca featuring
Bogie, Bergman and Henreid, a scoring session gallery with some alternate takes
of Dooley Wilson singing, production history
gallery with photos press materials, studio correspondence and more, plus
original and re-release trailers. One of my favorite
extras, however, was the hilarious Warner Bros. cartoon short Carrotblanca, with
Bugs Bunny and friends offering one of the most side-splitting spoofs you’ll
There is also a second DVD disc for "Jack Warner: The Last Mogul"...a full length documentary on the legendary studio head.
And this set is handsomely packaged with a beautiful hardcover photo book, a collection of 10 one-sheet reproductions, a Casablanca passport holder and luggage tag, and some reproductions of correspondence from the day, such as the one begging Warner to let Bogie bust out of his gangster stereotype, and the escape papers made out in Victor Lazlo's name!
One of the greatest movies ever made is now also one of the most beautifully packaged Blu-ray collector's sets on the market. Here’s looking at another 65 years of Casablanca.