Can you really call it Valentine’s Day without a healthy dose of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman strutting their stuff in the 1942 classic Casablanca? I think not. There is a fear with all black and white movies regarding whether or not they will stand the test of time, become a timeless classic or fall by the wayside due to dated acting and laughable special effects. Often cited as not only a classic for the romantics, but for film lovers in general, it’s safe to say Casablanca has established itself as the former, and rightly so.
Humphrey Bogart is as cool as ever during his portrayal of Rick, the owner of an American bar in Casablanca. White suits, cigarettes, alcohol – let’s just call him a smartly dressed James Dean and be done with it. But this rebel does have a cause; to get out of Casablanca. Casablanca is so unlike any other romantic film, it’s almost an anti-romantic movie. After a loving fling in Paris years earlier that ended in disappointment, Rick sets up shop in Casablanca running his own bar. That’s until his old flame Ilsa comes to town with a husband in tow.
Unable to rekindle the romance, Rick instead sets his sights on improving her situation by helping her and her husband escape from Casablanca and onto American shores. Loveable rogue, old romantic, and anti-hero are all ways of describing Rick, but the flashbacks during the movie help the audience see a sentimental side to his character, who is so usually unmoved and carefree.
It’s not your conventional romantic boy meets girl scenario, but that isn’t a bad thing. The story concentrates more on its characters than the story between them. At no point do you get the feeling that these two are star-crossed lovers destined to end up together, but it doesn’t make you care any less when you reach the emotionally tragic ending.
Best performance: Humphrey Bogart.