“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world she walks into mine.”
I can remember the day I first bought Casablanca on DVD. I had never seen it before but at the time I was getting into Ingrid Bergman and I saw her on the cover so I had to buy it. I do not, however, remember what I first thought of it but I do remember that the more I watched Casablanca the more I fell in love with it. Every time I see it I fall in love with over and over again.
Tonight I had the great opportunity to see Casablanca in theaters as part of TCM’s seventieth anniversary event for the film. I cannot even begin to describe how utterly and completely beautiful seeing the film in theaters on the big screen. I was in absolute awe the entire time I could not believe I was seeing my favorite classic film in theaters.
Author Mick LaSalle wrote in his fantastic book Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood that actresses like Greta Garbo with these incredible faces who were filmed in these gorgeous close ups were meant to be seen on thirty foot screens where their beauty and glamour had the most astounding effect. As soon as the first close up of Ingrid Bergman’s face came on the screen I knew what LaSalle wrote about, Bergman’s face with the glamour lighting on this thirty foot screen was beautiful beyond words. When Bergman was on the screen either in a close up, half shot, or full shot she was breathtaking and that is because she was larger than life the way we are meant to see these idols of the silver screen. This was the best part of seeing Casablanca in theaters seeing the stunning Ingrid Bergman and her immense talent larger than life.
Casablanca is one of those rare films that is perfectly made. It is a melodramatic story but with some of the best comedic lines. The cast is one that every film since then has died to put together from their starring cast members down to the smallest person in the background. The cast is the casting twist of fate of ever; Humphrey Bogart is Rick Blaine the world weary man who has some sort of sordid past trying to run away with it, Ingrid Bergman is Ilsa Lund a confused woman who loves her husband but has a beautiful past with Rick, Paul Henreid is Victor Laszlo he has the look of a dignified dedicated man, and Claude Rains has the perfect sleazy look to him that you would not want to touch Louis Renault with a ten foot pole. The direction by Michael Curtiz is something all film major should study his camera work is inspiring. The lighting I drool over especially when Rick gets drunk after seeing Ilsa for the first time since Paris, when Ilsa goes to Rick for the letters of transit, and when Rick opens the door to reveal Ilsa to Carl.
As I sat in my seat close to the front with my neck smashed from looking awkwardly up at the screen I felt like I was sitting in a movie theater back in 1942. The only things that were missing were the mindset of the time during World War II and the 1940s and the clothing. You can watch Casablanca on your TV at home and you can watch it in film classes on a projector but nothing in world will ever be able to compare to seeing this beautiful iconic film on a big screen in a theater.