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.