movie: Casablanca

Casablanca, probably one of the greatest films ever made.  Certainly one of the most recognisable, most frequently quoted and often miss-quoted movies ever made.  Yes “Here’s looking at you kid“, “Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine” and “We‘ll always have Paris.”  all appear as do several “play it” but never can the words “play it again Sam” be heard in this film.

D and I went to see this in one of our favorite cinemas, The Grosvenor in Ashton Lane and even splashed out for one of the comfy sofas at the back.  I’ve seen the move several times, but never at a cinema and first of all I’ll mention in passing a couple of problems.  Firstly, the sound volume was a bit low and in particular the DJ in the Loft bar above the cinema could be heard through out the performance.  Secondly it was extremely hot.  Eventually it was so uncomfortable that I popped out to the foyer and mentioned these two things to the staff and was told that they would pass this on the the projectionist.  Also, they said that as the movie is in mono the sound is only coming out of the front speakers so the sound is not at the normal standard.  However, given that very shortly after returning to my seat it was noticeably cooler and louder.  Thank you Grosvenor!

This old movie is showing at the Grosvenor this week because of valentines day, which I didn’t really get at first as I’ve always thought of it as a war-movie, but of course it is one of the great love stories of classic Hollywood.  Released in 1942, like much of the output of Hollywood at the time, the movie also serves as war propaganda showing the Germans as evil, strutting, bullies even in this more or less neutral country.

I think it is useful when watching Casablanca now to have a little knowledge about how Morocco, being a French colony came under the control of the pro-Axis Vichy regime when France was invaded by Germany.  Therefore it was nominally on the side of Germany, although an active resistance movement operated and (key to the plot) it formed part of a route out of Europe.

What is perhaps most surprising about Casablanca is just how funny it is.  Yes it is a story of resistance during WW2, and yes it is a story of love, a broken heart, love re-found and sacrificial love.  However, there are so many throw away lines that might raise a smile when watching this movie at home cause a cinema audience to laugh at the shared experience.  Here are just a few:

Captain Renault: What in heaven’s name brought you to Casablanca?
Rick: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
Captain Renault: The waters? What waters? We’re in the desert.
Rick: I was misinformed.

Ilsa: How nice, you remembered. But of course, that was the day the Germans marched into Paris.
Rick: Not an easy day to forget.
Ilsa: No.
Rick: I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray, you wore blue.

Captain Renault: Carl, see that Major Strasser gets a good table, one close to the ladies.
Carl: I have already given him the best, knowing he is German and would take it anyway.

Yvonne: Where were you last night?
Rick: That’s so long ago, I don’t remember.
Yvonne: Will I see you tonight?
Rick: I never make plans that far ahead.


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