Rick (Humphrey Bogart) is an American who left the US and ended up in Casablanca for the long haul, and owns and operates a classy joint (Rick's Café Americain). Despite having girlfriends, he never forgot the one that got away - Ilsa (played by Ingrid Bergman). She broke his heart into a million pieces, left him standing in the rain at the train station years before, and now she suddenly appears at his place of business with her husband, Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), and what's worse - they need his help.
Part of the thriving business opportunities this film focuses on include black market exit visas. People all over Europe, trying to flee the Nazis, are clamoring for exit visas and letters of transfer. These things are selling under the table for top money, so the underworld is making out pretty good supplying them.
So when the Nazis come to town, naturally one of the town leaders, Captain Renault (Claude Rains) wants to make a good impression on them by staging an arrest.
"Rick, there's going to be some excitement here tonight." says Captain Renault, "We're going to make an arrest in your café."
"Again?" quips Rick.
The excitement in this film builds from the moment the film opens, and it doesn't stop until the end. The viewing audience is treated to a remarkable piece filled with music, romance, wartime issues (Nazism), adventure, and more.
Watching this film, there were times when I couldn't figure out whether Captain Renault was a good guy or a bad guy - he really seemed to sit on the fence and take whichever side suited him best. His character was fun, though, and friendly. The end of the film, though, shows Renault's true colors, and Rick's too.
It's not hard to see why this was one of Bogey's best films. It received Oscar Awards for Best Director, Best Picture, Best Writing; and was nominated for Oscars for Best Actor in a lead role (Humphrey Bogart), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Claude Rains), Best Cinematography for a B/W picture, Best Film Editing, and Best Music; and has been nominated for and received other awards since.
This movie is part of Warner Brothers' recently released Humphrey Bogart: The Essential Collection, a 24 film collection of Bogart flicks on 12 discs, plus special features, a book, collector's memorabilia, and a documentary about the Warner Brothers themselves. I'll be writing more reviews as I continue to enjoy this wonderful collection.
- Towards the beginning of the film, in Rick's Café, we see a man being instructed by another man concerning his exit visa and how much money to bring with him to the New World. The man being instructed looks a lot like Jean Hersholt, of Dr. Christian fame, doesn't he?
- How many times did Bogey say, "Here's looking at you, kid"? I counted 6, but I could be wrong.
- Did you know that "Sam" (Dooley Wilson) wasn't really a piano player? He was actually a drummer and couldn't play the piano. What you see in the movie is purely acting.
- It is said that George Raft could have played the lead in this film if Jack Warner would have gotten his way, but the part went to Bogey, instead, who was actually the only person considered for the male lead.
- On November 8, 1942, the allies invaded Casablanca, which was months before the film was scheduled for release. Studio execs thought it would be a good idea to change the release date to go along with the invasion, but Jack Warner was opposed to that. As it turns out, though, the film was released early after all - on November 26, 1942.