Doomed romances hold the fascination of the audience like nothing else. Casablanca came at a time when America was readying itself to enter the Second World War and when most Europeans wanted to escape the clutches of the Nazis. Casablanca isn’t just a romance or an adventure, it is the story of the times. Warner Bros hit a jackpot with the film in 1942.
The film starts with the scenario of missing transit papers. A usual activity in the unoccupied town of Casablanca. The city offered people a way out to America; a chance at a new life. The city’s prefect of police is a Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains), an interesting, corrupt official. Thugs, refugees and corrupt officials form the bodies in Casablanca. City’s favorite joint belongs to an American expatriate Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), a cunning businessman who is strict to a fault. All’s well until one day someone from Rick’s past walks into his joint.
“Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine…”
His beautiful past is Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman), married to the revolution hero Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid). The encounter brings back memories for both Ilsa and Rick, and there starts a story of unforeseen complications that lead to some interesting results.
Directed by Michael Curtiz, the film is based on Murray Burnett and Joan Alison’s unproduced stage play Everybody Comes to Rick’s. The dialogues, comedy, direction and fine performances turned the play into a heart-winning film. The manner in which the story line blends romance and humor with an adventurous part of history is what gives Casablanca the flavor we never get tired of. It is a film that gives us something new every time we watch it. In nuances of black and white, it offers us a myriad of colorful human emotions.
The fine performances in the film are not limited to the leading trio – Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid. The credit of success also falls on Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Dooley Wilson, who are equally stunning in supporting roles.
Casablanca is a classic that we can watch and re-watch a million times, and still not get bored. The problems of three little people may not amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world, but they sure as hell make for a great watch.