“It doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
While it’s hard to know just how much of the script is original (Peary argues “it hasn’t been sufficiently acknowledged that almost everything in the film was in Everybody Comes to Rick’s, the unproduced source play by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison”), it’s difficult to find fault with the end result: a remarkably intelligent and witty screenplay, co-written by (among others) the Epstein twins (Julius and Philip) and Howard Koch. In addition to its countless now-iconic lines (“Here’s looking at you, kid”), one particular exchange — between Rains and a police inspector as Rick’s Cafe Americain is about to be shut down for gambling — remains a personal favorite, and has me giggling with delight every time I hear it.
Much has been made about the fortuitous casting behind Casablanca, with Bogart and Bergman making a most unlikely yet inspired pair of star-crossed lovers. Bogart — who Peary refers to as “tough, introspective, ugly” — hits just the right notes of vulnerability and machismo, and, once we learn his backstory with “soft, generous, beautiful” Bergman, it’s easy to see why he’s remained so cynical and bitter for so long. Claude Rains nearly steals the show, however, in yet another stand-out performance: he manages to transform the corrupt overseer of Casablanca from a potential villain into a three-dimensional protagonist who’s both human and humorously droll. Rains’s friendship with Bogart — which evolves over the course of the film — adds yet another level of nuance (and, perhaps, “romance”) to this complex, emotionally charged story, one which will likely continue to delight audiences for decades to come.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)