Time: 102 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Genre: Romance/Drama/World War II
Won Academy Awards for Best Director, Picture and Screenplay. Nominations for Best Actor (Bogart), Cinematography, Film Editing, Original Music and Supporting Actor (Rains).
I just watched CASABLANCA again for what must be the 10th time and I have to say it was well worth it. Knowing the story of the problems that went on behind the scenes (casting changes, constant script revisions) make this movie even more remarkable for the fact that they actually pulled it off. Granted they had an amazing cast, but as we all know from experience that never guarantees success. Sometimes despite everyone's best efforts a movie just doesn't work...and sometimes despite all the obstacles it becomes an instant classic. Having Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman as your leads doesn't hurt either.
Though the plot can be somewhat convoluted to first time viewers, the main storyline is pretty simple. Humphrey Bogart plays Rick, the owner of Rick's All American Cafe, a fancy little establishment in Casablanca, Morrocco the epicenter of the refugee escape route during the early years of WWII. Everybody comes to Rick's including his ex-lover Ilsa, played by Ms. Bergman, and her husband Victor Lazlo (one of the greatest screen names ever) a concentration camp survivor and enemy of the Third Reich. The Germans are hot on their trail and are desperate to recapture Lazlo. He has escaped from their grip too many times and they're not about to let him leave Casablanca at least not alive.
Through circumstances not under his control, Rick becomes the unsolicited owner of two Letters of Transport that would allow the barrers unquestionable transport from Casablanca to America. Everyone wants possesion of these documents and some will even kill to get them. Rick refuses to sell them or give them to anybody, not even Ilsa. The Letters are his "free pass" back to the United States. Besides, Ilsa betrayed him. Why should he help her now? Unfortunately for him, he stills loves her. The film ends as it should, but I don't think anyone would consider it a happy ending...unless you were Victor Lazlo.