best films: #36: CASABLANCA (1942)

Yes, I’m probably one of the few people on the face of the earth to put Casablanca on a “best films” list and not put it even in the top 25. It seems it’s the type of movie that when it makes a list at all, it’s near the number-one spot. Alas, I’m not your typical movie lover, I suppose. But what I do see in Casablanca is a host of brilliant and subtle performances (well, I guess subtle never applies to Peter Lorre) surrounded by iconic costuming and sets and the occasional brilliant use of music. Try to come up with a more representative film couple than Rick and Ilsa – really, it’s rather difficult. Ingrid Bergman is a delicate yet bombshell of a woman in this film – she gives the type of noiry performance that is rarely seen anymore – that of a woman with inner demons and confusion who doesn’t display it with large, melodramatic outbursts. And there’s Bogey, who I doesn’t usually do much for me, but is stoic, curmudgeonly brilliance here. Rick is a fully realized, broken shell of a man, and he commands from the beginning to the moment he utters the quintessential film line(s). But for me, the true star of the film is “As Time Goes By.” It’s a seamless element to an already visually stunning film. And if we’re talking musical moments, what modern scene can equal the power of the national anthem battle? Madeleine LeBeau‘s streaming tears are stuff of film history.


Standout Performance: I don’t know what buffs typically go for as the number-one performance in this movie, but I’m going to step out and choose Bergman, who proves to be a silent force in black-and-white.
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7 responses to “best films: #36: CASABLANCA (1942)”

  1. Sara says :

    Love this choice.I saw "Casablanca" for the first time in film class, and the emotion Bergman puts forth is raw and lovely. Definitely worthy of acclaim.

  2. Simon says :

    Perfectly respectable place to put it. And, I think, most people either go for Bergman or lump her and Bogart together.

  3. Linnea1928 says :

    Love Casablanca. J'aime bien Ingrid Bergman!! I actually just went there and of course had to take a pic or two in front of "Rick's". Totally touristy and cliched, but worth it.

  4. Mike Lippert says :

    I don't see anything wrong with putting Casablanca here. If you go but what the screenwriters have said in the past they probably wouldn't even rank it that high within the body of their work. This is an excellent and interesting list. Can't wait for more.

  5. Jose says :

    I choose Bergman too.Her work in this is so subtle yet powerful.I love Bogey as much as the next man but it's Bergman who I've never been able to forget.Also was she perhaps the most beautiful woman that lived? I'm thinking yes haha.

  6. Castor says :

    Great review Luke and good choice for best performance! Has a song become as fully associated with a movie as "As times goes by"?

  7. Luke says :

    Sara: I KNEW this had to be one you'd love, you romantic, you… 🙂Simon: Thanks for defending my placement. I was a little nervous about my audacity.Linnea1928: Long time no write! I love it! 🙂 Also, totally jealous of your Rick's experience. Not at all cliche – only awesome.Mike: Thanks for the endorsement. I know my list is a little hodgepodgey (and has a few too many sentimental favorites that probably don't have the prestige of some others), but I'm glad someone can find the diamond in the rough here! 🙂Jose: EXACTLY! Whenever I'm asked which classic actress was the most beautiful I'm always inclined to go with Bergman. She had one pristine face, that one!Castor: That's a good point. Perhaps you should devote one of your movie-music-themed posts to songs that do just that… I like that idea. 🙂

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