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Playing it over and over again: how Casablanca was made (newstatesman.com)
35 points by prismatic 4 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 16 comments





Having mostly seen it on CRT TV screens, with their limited resolution and contrast, I was struck by the amount of detail the film captured, when I first/finally saw a restored print on a high quality, IPS high definition screen.

In the nighttime shots, the delicate and nuanced swirls of cigarette smoke through the air.

If you like "Casablanca" but don't know other films from that era, you really owe it to yourself to check them out.

You can start with Bogart, for example, a couple of other films with him that are personal favorites: "Dark Passage" and "The Big Sleep".

Some things, such a sexuality, were more nuanced (my word for the day, I guess) and implied, in those days; but don't tell me they weren't there. And in some ways things were a little more direct; adults were adults, and some of the humor along with it.

There are also any number of excellent comedies, often as sophisticated as anything we have today.

I've had a few younger friends who tell me, 'I'm not interested in that old stuff.' Until I get them to watch a prime example.


Check theaters in your area that run classic films with any frequency.

The Stanford Theater in Palo Alto is a great one. Best of all, almost everyone puts their phones away without prompting. Almost everyone.

The first time I saw "Casablanca" in its entirety was as the weekly film in college, on a classroom projector and screen.

I remember being shocked and dumbfounded at the credits. "1942? This was made during the most hopeless time of the war?!"


Another great oldie is 'The Third Man'. Most famous, I suppose, for the "cuckoo clock" speech.

When the time came for the scene in which Victor Laszlo defiantly sings “La Marseillaise”, one character actor noticed everyone was crying: “I suddenly realised they were all real refugees.”

If I had to pick a single movie scene as my favorite, it would be that one.

https://youtu.be/HM-E2H1ChJM


What I like about Casablanca is nobody knew they were making a classic. It was just another movie they churned out like an episode of Friends.

That may be an exaggeration but it was certainly a movie that had, to a greater degree than usual, one or a few things had gone a bit differently it would have been totally forgotten.

You grow up hearing over and over that Casablanca is such a great movie that when you finally see it and find it to be a great movie, it’s hard to tell whether that opinion is even your own.

Maybe. But I've heard a lot of movies are great (from classics like Citizen Kane to newer movies like Lady Bird), and normally it just makes me disappointed that I don't think they're as great as they've been built up to be. Casablanca really is a great movie, that stands even without context.

I find Casablanca, Tombstone, and The Princess Bride to be the most quotable movies I've ever seen. We had the same experience with Casablanca, some of the shots/scenes don't always pan out and the gun fights are a little hokey but the writing and story is great.

You'll know if it passes the test of time for you. For me it's one of the few movies I'm happy to watch every year or two.

Due to another post in HN, I've discovered a fact that really astonished me: the movie was released during the war! And Hitler was winning!!!

Nobody knew what would happen. The characters are fantastic, from the French who must obey to Vichs government, to Rick that perfectly represents America's position.

I've watched it with my 10 and 12 years old sons. Had to pause a lot to explain things, but we all loved it.


Step 1 - make sure everyone has a drink in their hands before each scene begins.

Step 2 - if they don't have a drink in their hands when the scene starts make sure the scene involves fixing or pouring a drink.

Casablanca is a great movie.


My best guess is that in a very dialog-heavy film, it helps to have the characters holding something.

This brings back fond memories.

Around 1985 I was living and working at home in Los Gatos, CA, when I got a call out of the blue:

"Hi, I'm Robert Hetkämper from German TV. We are doing a report on Silicon Valley software companies. Could we stop by tonight and interview you?"

I was nobody you'd have ever heard of, but I had a business phone line listed under my company name, Software Wizards. So I guessed that was how they found me, or that maybe it was just a prank.

I explained that the company was just me working at home, and Robert said, "This is interesting, we are looking for unusual companies like that. Do you have some friends or colleagues you could invite over and we could talk with them too?"

So I called up a few friends and asked them if they wanted to be on German TV, and bless their hearts, they all came over. I still thought it might be a prank, but then the film crew showed up and started putting lights on the street for an exterior shot.

My friends and I sat around the living room table talking, and Robert asked if we could get some glasses of water to drink out of, to get a bit of visual activity in the scene.

That was the day I learned that in a very dialog-heavy film, it helps to have the characters holding something. :-)


It has more memorable lines that any other movie, save perhaps Princess Bride. People know the lines who have no idea they were in the a movie (and some even weren't).

Yes, the first time I watched it (aged about 19) I was amazed to note that of the last 10 lines of the film, something like 9 of them are movie cliches. All those hills of beans and beautiful friendships made an impact - maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday and for the rest of its life.



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