It’s been a while but today is our Sunday Story taking a look at the greatest film of all time Casablanca. Some will definitely argue how truly amazing this film was, and still is, but for all the film buffs we know just how inspiring Casablanca was for the entire film industry.
I remember the first day of one of my film classes, and my teacher just saying point blank “Casablanca is the greatest film ever made”.
If you’re wondering what the film is about…here’s a brief synopsis…
Set in 1942 World War II-Casablanca (Morocco) exiled American Rick Blaine owns the most popular nightclub in town. His longtime sweetheart returns although he’s not too fond of her since she left him in Paris. She arrives at the bar that Rick owns with her fiancé Victor Laszlo who’s a war hero.
Rick has his hands on the only transit document that allows one to return to American. The Chief of Police, who is neutral in his political views, informs Rick that Victor Laszlo, the European Resistance leader, is in Casablanca and will do anything to get an exit visa but Renault has been “told” by The Gestapo to keep Laszlo in Casablanca.
Laszlo goes to Rick’s to meet with Rick, because Rick is the one with the letters of transit. Laszlo and Ilsa need to get back to America because the Gestapo are trying to kill him. And when they learn that Rick has the letters, he refuses to give them to him, because “he doesn’t stick his neck out for anyone”. But mostly because Laszlo stole his girlfriend from him. I won’t ruin the end, but Rick makes the decision that Laszlo’s cause (war hero) is greater than his love for Isla, and ultimately makes his decision.
The story successfully blended two very different themes together, politics and romance. During that time, these situations were very real as the consequences of war were well understood by the American public. Some people say this movie was a type of propaganda for the war, to sort of glamorize the idea of being a war hero for the American audience. And, it probably was. I think for a film like this to be made at a time where the country was at war, shows how resilient the film was, that it probably had some sort of government support to have reached its success.
Whether or not it was propaganda, it was an amazing film that I love to watch over and over again. One of the things that I really loved about this film, was that they casted an African American “Sam” to play the role of the pianist inside Rick’s bar. At first glance it doesn’t seem like much, but during that time it was very rare to see this in American films, I think they were making a big statement casting Sam, it showed just how trendsetting this film was, and how its changed our perception of films today.
Although it was released in 1942, the themes of this film will resonate with our generation today and generations to come.
Murray Burnett called it “true yesterday, true today, true tomorrow”
Next Week: Sunset Blvd