I had the distinct pleasure of spending two and a half hours in a movie theater packed with film fans. The big event? Casablanca graced the big screen once more to celebrate the 70th anniversary of its theater debut.
Turner Classic Movies (TCM), Warner Bros. and Fathom Events partnered to bring one of the most revered pieces of cinematic history back to theaters as part of the big anniversary celebration. Fans of classic film flocked to theaters nationwide to experience the film as it was meant to be seen. Fans of TCM are no doubt familiar with Robert Osborne, and he was there on screen to share interviews and some behind the scenes stories about the making of Casablanca, a film underestimated by almost everyone involved in its production that was still very much a work in progress when filming began.
Though the film’s potential for greatness may have eluded the cast and crew during it’s production, from its release critics and audiences were quick to recognize it. In 1944, Casablanca was nominated for 8 Oscar awards, walking away with 3 wins for Best Director (Michael Curtiz); Best Writing, Screenplay (Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, Howard Koch); and the much coveted award for Best Picture (Warner Bros.). Since the film’s release, it has continued to rank highly among the greatest films produced and even today holds strong as one of the must-watch films for film buffs.
Every detail of Casablanca was expertly produced under the guidance of Hal B. Wallis. With a stellar cast from co-stars Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman to a fantastic cast of supporting characters played by Claude Rains, Paul Henreid, Dooley Wilson, Conrad Veidt and Peter Lorre, audiences are swept up in the dramatic tension of ill-fated lovers meeting again in war-torn Casablanca where everyone is in danger and the best course of action is to look out for oneself.
Casablanca is perhaps the most quoted in film history and with good reason. The writing is clever and memorable. For a plot that could weigh down any movie with its overwhelming dramatic subject matter, the writing in Casablanca provided moments of humor that almost take you by surprise but serve a dual purpose: adding a bit of needed levity and enhancing the humanity of the characters dealing with the political turmoil of the time and the romantic fallout of their pasts. Adding to the depth of the film is the soundtrack. Including the unforgettable anthem “As Time Goes By,” as well as many other incredible songs, such as “Heaven Can Wait,” “Love for Sale” and “The Very Thought of You,” each song was hand-picked to entwine every so beautifully and, in some cases, poignantly with the action on the screen.
I hope you were able to make it to a screening of Casablanca and enjoyed this beautiful piece of film, whether it was your first time seeing the film or if you are a long-time fan. If you missed the theater screening, you should certainly make it a point to see this classic piece of history. Remember, you can pre-order your copy of 70th Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack now, which will be released March 27th, 2012.