Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Beautiful Friendship

There are so many great things about Casablanca that I do not really know where to begin.* We watched it again last night, aptly drinking a bottle of champagne to celebrate TOH's acceptance of gainful employment - not something to be sniffed at in the current economic climes (hereinafter - and I mean ad nauseum on the blog - CEC). I say aptly because that's all they seem to do. Here are just a few of my favourite things about this movie:
  • They drink champagne ALL THE TIME. The only time characters don't drink champagne is when they're drinking brandy or whiskey. The bit where Rick decides to down his remaining bottles so that the Germans can't get them when they invade Paris - genius. Inspiring me to ensure we always have a bottle in the fridge.
  • Claude Rains. How on earth that man did not win Best Supporting Actor, I do not know - proof that the Oscars made horrific errors of judgment even back then. I own, I have not seen The More The Merrier, and have nothing against Charles Coburn, but... how on earth any performance could be greater than Rains' portrayal of Captain Renault, I do not know. I love the way he seems so convivial, debonair, and then you get glimpses of just how willing he is to abuse his power or to go with the Nazis to save his own neck. Yet you still love him. By far the best character in the movie - he gets about 75% of the best lines, I reckon (and not linens, as I originally typed). Oh, and he was born in Camberwell - South East London represent!
  • When Ilsa asks Sam to play that song, I always think of Naked Gun: 2 1/2 (watch from about 3m 24 s in) and it makes me giggle. And then the song makes me sniffle.
  • I cry, almost every time, when they play the Marseillaise, although it also tickled TOH and I greatly last night to imagine what effect God Save The Queen would have on Rick's Bar. Not quite the same stirring call to action, one imagines.
  • It's much, much, much funnier than I remember thinking when I first watched it. I thought it was pretty good, but mostly a weepy. The one-liners are spectacular and keep coming, and it's just so sharp and funny. Makes me weep to think of the modern day equivalents - he's just not that into you? Easy target, I know, but still.
  • Pursuant to the last point - it gets better every time I watch it. There's the ambiguity of Ilsa's character (I'm much gentler and understanding her in my old age than I was when I was younger), the humour, the tearjerking bits, the unbelievable cast - Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, two old foils for Bogart after The Maltese Falcon, another glorious movie. Sigh.
Cross-posted at Ill Read, with a few minor alterations.
* NOTE: There are potential spoilers in this post. Although you don't really deserve spoiler notice if you haven't seen Casablanca, because it is one of the greatest films of all time.

No comments: