On November 26th, 1942, Warner Brothers released what would become one of the most popular and admired motion pictures ever, Casablanca. What is essentially a pedestrian tearjerker of a plot is elevated to art by perhaps the wittiest, most memorable script in film history and measured, mature acting, including a beautiful sense of timing across the cast. This is my favorite movie of all.
Think of all the elements of this movie that have become common currency in our culture, including several lines given to Claude Rains, as Capt. Renault: “I am shocked! Shocked!” and “`Round up the usual suspects.” Can anyone hear the first few bars of As Time Goes By and not think of Rick and Ilsa?
One of my favorite bits in the film is the coda to that first line. After Capt. Renault informs Rick he is shutting the club down because he has discovered gambling going on, the croupier, played by Marcel Dalio, comes up and hands Renault his share of the evening’s take, for which Renault, with a straight face, not missing a beat, thanks him (please excuse the silly header someone put on).
There are tons of sources of information about Casablanca, including Wikipedia, of course – Casablanca entry – but while it’s great to read about it, just do yourself a favor and go buy a copy.
Here’s looking at you, kid.