Throwback Review: Casablanca

Casablanca poster

Fourth in a series of “throwback” posts.  This review was written in November 1987, when the author was 18 years old, just out of high school, working two jobs and watching two movies every night. The naiveté in this review is especially painful to re-read.

Casablanca posterYes folks, it’s black and white. But man, does it look great. Girls will like the romance; guys will appreciate the macho one-liners. The dialogue is perfect. Bogie never disappoints – it’s hard to imagine Ronald Reagan in the part, or anyone else, for that matter. He’s tough and he does the right thing; it’s easy to see where modern movie heroes like Harrison Ford and Clint Eastwood get their inspiration. Ingrid Bergman is just knock-your-socks-off beautiful. She stands up against any of the current crop of Hollywood beauties… I’d do it if I were Bogie.

The time is World War II. Everyone’s trying to get out of Casablanca, but it takes money to escape. There are shady characters lurking everywhere. In the middle of it all is Rick’s, the club owned by Bogie. He’s a loner; mysterious yet respected. Things fall apart for him when Bergman shows up, and we get to hear that great line, “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world… she walks into mine.” There’s espionage, forbidden love, cross and double-cross. Who knew it could be this good?

I’m left with vivid impressions of the time, the people, and the atmosphere of one small corner in a world at war. I want to visit Casablanca, and hear Sam “play it.” But of course he can’t remember. Or can he? What a great romance. What great lines. What heroic sacrifices. And the final scene is simply one of the greatest ever. This is why we love movies – although our lives surely pale by comparison, we nevertheless emerge refreshed, emboldened, and ready to face any challenge life might throw at us. And if we’re lucky, Ingrid Bergman might pick our gin joint next time.

November 16, 1987

Hear this piece in Podcast Episode 4