Friday, August 20, 2004

Played it, Sam

So, I blushingly confess I am no longer a Casablanca virgin. I've watched the movie now, and am prepared to deem it worthy of its renown. Humphrey Bogart's nowhere near the stiff he's been made out to be in all the impersonations. There was a liveliness to his performance as Rick Blaine that was subtle but real. I was particularly delighted by the scene where the Germans are waving what they have on him under his nose, and after glancing it over, Rick looks up and asks the table, "Are my eyes really brown?" I love that kind of thing.

Peter Lorre's Ugarte character certainly does stand out. I always had the impression he was this greasy, despicable guy, but my heart really went out to him somehow. What amazes me is just how large a figure he seems to have become in all the Casablanca references... and yet the guy's on screen for what, maybe five minutes?

I have to admit, I was surprised to find out Ilsa was married (though believed herself widowed) when she was seeing Rick in Paris. That's the sort of complication you don't normally see in a movie from the 1940s. A nice bittersweet edge to it all... a much better explanation than something lame like deciding it just wouldn't work out or something. Finding out your husband's still alive... yeah, that must kind of knock the world sideways on you.

There are also a couple of commentary tracks on the DVD. Now I love commentary tracks. The first one is by Roger Ebert. Hey, is there anyone else out there besides me who was floored that Gene Siskel died before Roger Ebert? No offense, Roger, but looking at the two of you side-by-side on "At the Movies" in the 80s, my money was on Gene. Anyway, I was thinking it would have been better if they could have gotten Bogey to do one, but I gather he's hard to get hold of nowadays, so they probably would have had to have anticipated the eventual creation of DVDs back in the 50s, sat him down, and recorded his impressions. Looks like they didn't bother to put that much thought into it. The film is introduced by Lauren Bacall, though, which is pretty cool. :)

This is a movie I know I can watch repeatedly. I should start looking for other films with Bogey in 'em.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Imagine that... You listen to The Jesus and Mary Chain! I wouldn't have guessed!
As for Casablanca... I'm glad you liked it... I never got into it like I said before... Maybe my expectations were too high. Don't you hate when that happens? Personally I just love when I have no expectations and I get blown away by a movie!
"You know, Rick, I have many a friend in Casablanca, but somehow, just because you despise me, you are the only one I trust."
"Here's looking at you, kid."