Silk Stockings (1957)

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In full disclosure, though I admire Ernst Lubitsch’s directorial eye and Billy Wilder’s trenchant wit, the Ninotchka (1939) premise alone never intrigued me. But as with all the great pictures, it’s not necessarily the main conceit but the execution of the story with its own unique digressions which matters most.

That’s why having screen goddess Greta Garbo paired with the two men mentioned above is of note. They ultimately created something delightful together. And as we draw the line all the way to Silk Stockings almost two decades later, the names attached are equally important.

We can probably start with Fred Astaire who was in a period in his career that constantly seemed to fluctuate between retirement and flurries of inspired activity. In this particular case, he would follow Silk Stockings out into the theaters with a second success in Funny Face (1957) pairing him with Audrey Hepburn for the first and only time.

Though he had his initial misgivings about the material and his director, Rouben Marmoulian proved to have quite the success with Silk Stockings, which would subsequently be his last effort in a generally underrated career. He took the successful stage play and transferred it to the screen, this collaboration even featured several more tunes from Cole Porter’s repertoire while writers such as Leonard Gershe (who had already penned Funny Face) and industry veteran Harry Kurnitz worked on the script.

Then, Cyd Charisse had the seemingly insurmountable task of inheriting the role owned by a larger-than-life star if there ever was one — Garbo herself. And yet maybe it’s a reflection of my own predilections in performers but I rather like Charisse in the part not because of the acting per se but for the moments where she’s able to shed the role and become the sentient ever dynamic being she is as a dancer.

The ball starts rolling when an American film producer, Steve Canfield (Astaire) tries to coax a brilliant Russian composer named Boroff (Wim Sonneveld) to compose the score for his next film. Simultaneously three of his countrymen have been enlisted as emissaries on Parisian soil to bring him back home before he gets polluted by capitalist dogma any further. The oafish louts are eclectic talents as diverse as Peter Lorre, Jules Munshin, and Joseph Buloff.

Of course, if you know anything of Ninochtka (1939) or retrospectively, Wilder’s similar One, Two, Three (1961) you’ll know that they too get seduced by the decadence of capitalism to humorous ends. It seems there is only one person who will not fail in her mission, that is Ninotchka (Cyd Charisse), an austere devotee of the party whose only interest is observing French trivialities on a purely academic basis while making sure her comrades remain diligent in their duties. She’s a tough case to crack. It’s bound to take time and yet at some point, Canfield gets to her with a little help from “The City of Lights.”

Janis Paige enters and wows the reporters and everyone else with a tornado of flirtatious vivacity captured in the number “Glorious Technicolor Stereophonic Sound.” Like It’s Always Fair Weather (1954) before it, the musical number manages a few jabs at the direction the industry was heading with the advent and subsequent cultural boom of television. And yet in his shrewdness, Astaire lobbied for the picture to be shot a very specific way and sure enough, it got made in Cinemascope and Eastmancolor with Stereophonic Sound.

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After shedding her dour exterior, Cyd Charisse gets arguably her finest starring spot in any film, playing opposite Astaire again following The Band Wagon (1953) and despite the constraints of her character, she fairly rapidly transforms into the free-flowing, immaculately graceful spirit we know her to be.

Fittingly, Charisse earns the film’s most emblematic scene where she exquisitely dons her first pair of silk stockings along with an entire wardrobe as she goes through her ideological transformation which subsequently transforms her very movements with carefree ease. She brings it to life moment by moment so effortlessly. In “Fated to Be Mates,”  Astaire and Charisse are featured together at their most lively as the leading man leads his partner in twirling carries and their dance devolves into a show verging on parkour and gymnastics.

Along with the amorous “All of You” to instigate his relationship with his repeatedly aloof leading lady, Astaire gets another contemporary showcase that simultaneously alludes to his rich legacy in the industry. “Ritz Roll and Rock” perfectly encapsulates this performer-extraordinaire who came out of a certain era and yet never seems outmoded even in the latest music craze.

He went out on top and continued to perform at that same level to the very end. Not every leading man can say that. Of course, the exclamation point at the end is the smashing of his top hat for all posterity. As we’ve all probably noted over the years, it’s a bit of a moniker for him and fittingly when he’s gone, it’s retired too. No one else deserves to wear the crown of the king.

3.5/5 Stars



Hollywood Canteen (1944)

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This propaganda extravaganza showcases Hollywood in all its glory from the Brown Derby to the Hollywoodland sign and of course the pride and joy of wartime morale-boosting, the Hollywood Canteen.  It’s a bit of a faux reality, Hollywood’s rendition of what real life might actually be like since the Hollywood Canteen did in fact exist.

Historically, it began as an effort by John Garfield and Bette Davis of all people to support the troops and give them quality entertainment from the entertainment capital of the world. Though newsreel footage might serve as a better historical marker (albeit still biased), there’s no questioning the patriotic waves flooding through this picture.

True, even in this film there are anecdotes that point to a slightly different reality. Namely the fact that this was meant to be a Hollywood wide endeavor but all other studios balked and so the lineup is filled out by Warner Bros. catalog of stars and them alone.

Furthermore, it’s easy to surmise that far from being overcome by patriotic fervor, Joan Crawford probably took her role because the alphabetical billing conveniently put her above a couple perennial rivals in Bette Davis and Barbara Stanwyck.

Even with its authenticity in question, there’s no doubt that the film boasts talent. There’s an inexhaustible array of song & dance from the likes of the Andrew Sisters, Roy Rogers (with Trigger) and Jimmy Dorsey.  The stars also come out in full force with cameos from everyone conceivably under contract to Warner Bros from Kitty Carlisle, Jack Carson, Joe E. Brown, Ida Lupino, Jack Benny, and of course Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet staying in character. Each one provides enough star power to fill in the idle moments around our main love story.

Still, there’s no doubt that Joan Leslie was one of America’s sweethearts and it’s no coincidence that our protagonist falls head over heels for her all the way in the South Pacific. The pair of lovebirds represents all that is seemingly good and upright about American ideals even if she is a movie star and he is only a common soldier.

That makes the prospect of actually meeting her beyond his wildest dreams, but Hollywood purportedly is in the dream making business and so Slim gets his wishes granted. A date with his dream girl is soon arranged by those tactful matchmakers Davis and Garfield.

Robert Hutton is almost uncannily reminiscent of Jimmy Stewart who was at the time leading bombing raids over Germany. It seems little coincidence that he would then land the crucial role as the universal soldier Slim — a man who saw his share of action and is home for a short spell — before heading out on his next tour of duty.

He represents all the boys fighting for not just the Red, White, and Blue but every color and creed. In his very starry-eyed and candid way, he mentions each one as the camera picks each out of the crowd. Curious the only group not mentioned were members of the Japanese-American infantry. Yet another incongruity with the world at large. But the red carpet that is rolled out for him at the Hollywood Canteen is meant to be only a small recompense for all his service to his country.

Delmer Daves’s picture much like Stage Door Canteen (1943) fits the realm of saccharine propaganda, even blatantly so, but if you allow yourself to be carried away by the historical moment it has its certain charms.

True, the Home Front or the Allied cause isn’t quite as unified and squeaky clean as it claims to be just as humanity on the whole and the stars behind Hollywood rarely could hold up to scrutiny. However, there’s still something here that can make you smile. Publicity stunt or not. Maybe it’s the romantic in me that likes to believe there’s at least a kernel of truth in here and if nothing else there’s honest to goodness sincerity.

3.5/5 Stars

Secret Agent (1936)

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It’s so easy to quickly brush off early works of Hitchcock with admittedly bland titles like Blackmail (1929), Murder (1930), Secret Agent (1936), Sabotage (1936), etc. But if you actually dare to dust one of these films off for a viewing, you do see Hitchcock spinning his wizardry even if the edges are a bit worn, the stories barely developed, and the production values humble.

Among the ranks of Hitch’s thriller sextet, Secret Agent written by frequent collaborator Charles Bennett is a surprisingly lucid effort with a cast that is stacked quite nicely. John Gielgud is a bit bristly as our leading man and the chief secret agent in our loosely set WWI storyline while Madeleine Carroll (featured earlier in The 39 Steps) is decidedly more fun as the adventure-seeking gal by his side, augmented by a certain amount of ravishing vitality.  They have quite the connubial relationship posing as a married couple. Still, there’s enough chemistry within the film’s running time for some breezy comedic moments that predate later romantic thrillers like To Catch a Thief (1955) and North by Northwest (1959).

In fact, part of the reason Gielgud’s Shakespearian sensibilities come off rather stuffy at times is not so much his fault but a testament to Carroll and Gielgud’s other male counterparts. The future all-knowing television father Robert Young makes his mark as a quipping American wiseguy constantly making passes at his latest acquaintance Mrs. Ashenden.

We meet him for the first time lounging in the lady’s hotel room in an amorous mood and he never ceases flirting, for the majority of the film anyway. Equally memorable is the spastic performance of Peter Lorre though he can’t quite pull off the stereotypical portrayal of General, the Hispanic sidekick supposedly spouting off Spanish in rapid fire and still speaking in a cannibalized English dialect with a German influence. There’s no denying he is colorful given Lorre’s usual aptitude for playing wonderful supporting spots.

Like many of Hitchcock’s films sandwiched together during the 1930s, this one exhibits the same precision plotting that sets out the parameters of the narrative early on including our hero, his background, and his goals, in this case to rendezvous with a double agent so they might weed out an enemy counterspy.

The objectives seem simple enough as our man Broden alias Ashenden must masquerade with his “Wife” and the eccentric “General” in the deceptively glamorous world of spies, secrets, and international intrigue. Hitchcock does make it a riveting world at that. A foreboding church with pounding organs and clanging bells is the scene of a murder. There’s a lively setup at a casino beckoning the future delights of films like Casablanca (1942) and Gilda (1946).

But there’s always bedlam waiting somewhere and in this case, it’s staged in a German chocolate factory as our English spies try to evade capture ratted out by a faceless snitch. The final act rumbles along on a hurtling train still behind enemy lines with the British air force raining down a hail of bullets. It’s the prototypical spectacle for a Hitchcockian showdown with unconventional results.

One of the most impressive aspects of Secret Agent is how many people Hitchcock is able to crowd in the frame balancing medium shots with close-ups and maneuvering his camera this way and that around his character’s many interactions. It evokes that not so famous adage that film is both what is in the frame and what is left out. Here we have a film that makes us very aware of what we are looking at and that is a hallmark of this man. He very rarely allows his camera to be a passive observer unless he chooses for it to be.

4/5 Stars

Note: It’s only a small aside but I only realized moments after the movie ended that even a young Lilli Palmer made an appearance as General’s beau.



The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

The_man_who_knew_too_much_1934_poster.jpgAlthough Hitchcock did many riffs off the same themes, he very rarely tried to do the same film twice over. The Man Who Knew Too Much might be the one exception and even then if you place these two thrillers from 1934 and 1956 up next to each other, they’re similarities are fairly nominal.

The bare-bones plot involving international espionage, a pair of unassuming parents, and the kidnapping of their child remains the same. But most everything else is drastically different.

Thus, it becomes an interesting exercise in juxtaposition. It really depends on what the viewer deems definitive in a quality film mixed with personal preference. Without question, this initial offering from a younger director is grittier and less made up but it’s subsequently a less technical sound achievement with also little score to speak of. We trade out James Stewart and Doris Day’s singing for the less remembered pair of Leslie Banks and Edna Best. But nevertheless, this version of The Man Who Knew Too Much is an enjoyable international adventure crossing the globe from the Swiss Alps to England.

The Lawrences are on a lively vacation complete with skiing and skeet shooting with their precocious daughter (Nova Pilbeam) but after an acquaintance winds up murdered, the family finds themselves embroiled in a treacherous world of espionage. The dead Frenchmen left them a message to pass on to his contact but that knowledge finds them deeply distressed when their daughter is kidnapped. From that point, the intentions of the story are fairly straightforward. It’s simply a matter of watching Hitchcock at work.

Peter Lorre fresh off his emigration from Nazi Germany in the wake of Hitler, ironically plays the quintessential international menace, cigarette curled between his lips. It was so recent in fact that the man who made a name for himself as slimy undesirables learned all his lines phonetically because he still had yet to gain full command of the English language. But thank goodness we had him for this film and many to come. He perennially made movies more interesting by his mere presence. That marvelous face of his is one in a million.

There are some wonderful sequences and typical touches of Hitchcockian style and subversion, namely a sun-worshipping cult hiding out in a cathedral but, overall, it’s not always a cohesive exhibition in suspense. His greatest achievements always seem to fit together seamlessly to the perfect crescendo like a thrilling piece of clockwork. Whereas sometimes it feels as if a few of these scenes are strung together.

But that does not take away from some of the better set pieces namely Hitchcock’s original Royal Albert Hall sequence and a different finale altogether with a final shootout that is still harrowing in its own right. And of course, the foreboding clangs of Peter Lorre’s pocket watch leave their mark on this film just as his eerie whistling became his foretoken in Lang’s M (1931). Hitch would only continue to fine tune his formula but there’s no question that The Man Who Knew Too Much is a diverting thriller and the first in a lineup of six consecutive successes from the director during the 1930s.

3.5/5 Stars

Review: The Maltese Falcon (1941)

maltesefalcon1Dashiell Hammet’s “blonde satan” Sam Spade is an icon of not only 20th-century literature but also 20th-century cinema, thanks in part to Humphrey  Bogart and John Huston. He’s the cynical, hard-nosed, unsentimental P.I. whose general unpredictability sometimes leads to angry outbursts and other times gleeful amusement. He’s a straight talker and not about to be pushed around. If this sounds familiar at all, it’s because it lays the prototypical foundation for any film noir gumshoe ever. Except Bogart’s Spade receives the credit as the archetype. All other portrayals whether homage or parody stem from his performance. And it is quite the performance, but he has some worthy adversaries attempting to upstage him.

Brigid O’Shaughnessy  (Mary Astor) is the conniving, beguiling, lying little stagy siren who comes into his office in need. She sets a precedent with a string of lies and that never ceases. However, there are half-truths and bits of genuineness backed by her quivering voice and pleading eyes. It took another round to realize what a femme fatale she actually is because she is in fact so good at it. You almost don’t realize how deadly she could be. And in the pantheon of femme fatales, I admittedly forget her in deference to the likes of Phyllis Dietrichson, Gilda, or Kitty Collins. Perhaps Spade’s a little stronger than most protagonists, a little more resilient, not allowing himself to be completely duped. But from the get-go, Brigid has him reeling and guessing. The difference is that he knows it. It’s not until the very end however, that’s he’s finally able to get an actual line on her.

maltesefalcon2Then there’s Joel Cairo played so cunningly by the always wily and beady-eyed Peter Lorre and Kaspar Gutman portrayed so assertively and pointedly by the perennially memorable Sidney Greenstreet. These two men would come back in Casablanca and numerous other Warner Bros. Pictures, but they are the epitome of iconic characters actors who make any narrative that much more interesting. They have mugs and physiques really made for the dark recesses of the noir world, and when you put these four together it does spell trouble. Add a quietly seething Elisha Cook Jr. as Wilmer, the always personable Ward Bond as a Police Detective, and Lee Patrick as Spade’s doll of a secretary and you have a true winner.

With the eponymous blackbird to drive the plot all you really need are these characters and their inherent greed to pull them along. The beauty is that we do not know the details, but following Spade we slowly have piece after piece revealed, character after character make their entrance until everyone’s together and things get interesting

The story has loads of substance built-in and Huston was absolutely meticulous with his preparation for the film script and otherwise, which paid heavy dividends in the end. Hardly anything seems throw away and all the dialogue and scenes flow in a wonderfully seamless way that continues to carry us along in anticipation. It’s so engaging in fact that it becomes quite easy to disregard the film’s astute cinematography utilizing low-key lighting, which would become a norm for noir and then low angles that are reminiscent of another film that came out that same year, Citizen Kane.

Modern viewers might well accuse this film of being overly talkie, but amidst its iconic characterizations and bewildering plot, there are immeasurable pleasures to be mined. Few people would contest that the Maltese Falcon really is a major benchmark in film, as not only the early beginnings of German-influenced American melodramas (aka film-noir) but also a major career boost for the up and coming Huston, not to mention the veteran character actor Bogart. For film-noir lovers or cinephiles in general, this truly is the stuff that dreams are made of. John Huston and Bogart would both come back with success, after success, after success, but there’s something to be said for where it all began. The Maltese Falcon is a treasure indeed.

5/5 Stars

M (1931)

mfilm1Peter Lorre has a face that will forever live in cinematic infamy, and it started with M. In truth, Fritz Lang’s drama involving a serial killer feels fresh and engaging even after all these years, maybe because humanity hasn’t changed all that much. We still murder, we still kill, we still seek justice, we still give into our base desires, and there’s not a perfect person among of us. Each one of us has our faults — our own personal downfalls.

The film begins with a rash of disappearances across the city and the boulevards are plastered with Wanted posters for the mysterious culprit. The day that Elsie Beckmann disappears sets the community off, especially when the perpetrator sends a handwritten letter to the local newspaper. The media frenzy begins as every man, woman, and child begins to suspect their neighbor of being a child murderer. The mob mentality looks to overrun the scales of justice. Meanwhile, the police force looks to use empirical methods as well as frequent raids to drudge up answers. They’re far from popular in the underworld and the force is being run ragged in an effort to get to the bottom of the case. Everyone expects a resolution quickly, but real solutions are hard to come by.

Things have gotten so dire for the local mob bosses that they call a meeting, resolving to do the dirty work on their own. They begin their own search for the man who is single-handedly ruining their rackets because he’s no good. Now the chase is really on for Hans Beckert, because everyone is on high alert, in all spheres of society. The question becomes not if he will be caught, but when, because it is only a matter of time.

It’s in these latter moments that the longstanding mystery behind the film’s title finally is revealed and it is a fitting twist. Everything begins to fall into place, but the strangest thing is that Lang actually begins to make us empathize with his killer. True, we want him to receive justice, but the men on the other side of the law seem little better than he — in fact, many of them are criminals themselves.

M has a fascinating juxtaposition of silence and sound, acting as a bridge between both. Beckert’s whistling of “In the Hall of the Mountain King” is certainly integral to the plot. It’s those exact notes that trigger the memories of a blind beggar selling balloons. However, it is these hollow sounds of the whistling that feel strange ominous and distant in vast areas of open space  There’s as much tension in the lulls of silence as there is in the most tumultuous notes.

Although Lorre doesn’t say much, we get enough clues just dwelling for long spells on his face. Those big eyes full of crazed fear and psychological torment. His mind plagued by paranoia and torn apart by schizophrenic bouts of conscience. It suggests the perverse nature of man given that this story was taken from real life accounts of a German child murderer. But also the tragic nature of mankind that we are often drawn to do evil in a sense. Our flesh is too weak and we give into our animalistic urges. Of course, Lang reveals the flip side of the indiscriminate as well, that seems just as questionable including mob rule and a sort of vigilante justice that functions outside of the accepted modes of law enforcement.

It brings up questions on the cycle of crime and the rehabilitation of the criminal. Questions that still get hotly debated and thrown about even to this day. M became the measuring stick for all of the subsequent crime thrillers Lang would churn out so efficiently following his move to the United States. You could argue that although he came close numerous times, he never quite topped this crowning jewel of a crime drama.

5/5 Star

The Maltese Falcon (1941) – Film-Noir

4ef67-falconmThis archetypal film-noir directed by John Huston, stars Humphrey Bogart as the detective Sam Spade. After an initial conversation with a mysterious woman, that same night two men end up dead. As Spade tries to understand what is going on, it puts him in contact with a paranoid little man and another man who is trailing him. All of them have something to do with a black bird and the situation gets more complicated when Spade meets the fat man. Rather surprisingly Spade ends up with the falcon but of course there has to be a twist. Soon enough the truth comes out of Brigid O’Shaughnessy and Spade coldly does his work. This film has great characters played by Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, Sidney Greenstreet, Ward Bond, and Elisha Cook Jr. The directing is good as well as the cinematography. This is the film that finally made Bogart a star and he would never look back.

5/5 Stars

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

Directed by Frank Capra and starring Cary Grant with a zany and strange supporting cast, this film adapted from a play is a farcical  black comedy. Grant is a drama critic who is just recently married and he is about to go on his honeymoon. However, he is horrified to learn that his two unassuming aunts have killed hopeless, old men with arsenic-laced tea. He must also deal with one brother who believes he is Teddy Roosevelt and a recently returned brother who is wanted for murder. Add these crazy characters, a peculiar German doctor, some policemen, and you are in for a wild ride of wacky antics and mock terror. All the while Grant tries to balance his many problems which nearly go awry. Everything gets figured out in the end and Grant carries his bride away. To say the least this film is very odd and perhaps not Capra’s best. It does culminate nicely in the end however, closing the story on a high note. The cast includes Priscilla Lane, Raymond Massey, Josephine Hull, Peter Lorre, Jean Adair, Jack Carson, and John Alexander

3.5/5 Stars

Review: Casablanca (1942)

It was over 70 years ago that Casablanca hit the silver screen for the first time. All the main players are dead and gone now. The Golden Age of Hollywood, where pictures were being churned out with factory-like efficiency, has given way to a modern era of blockbusters. To borrow a quote from the movie, it doesn’t seem that one little film would “amount to a hill of beans” in our present world. Still, somehow Casablanca is beloved to this day, despite the numerous other films that have undoubtedly entered the black hole of film oblivion. It seemingly will not die and for good reason.

Considered one of the greatest films of all time, this well-loved classic deserves to be here. It is the hallmark of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman’s careers. It also has one of the greatest scripts of all time, and it has achieved legendary status over the years. Many consider it purely the best film ever made and in all honesty, I would never try to refute that.

The film opens quickly and we are immersed in a world that is at the height of the Nazi terror, and many people are fleeing Europe by way of Casablanca. It is a treacherous place full of pickpockets, corrupt authorities, refugees, and naive tourists as well. Two German couriers have been murdered and some invaluable letters of transit have been stolen. That’s when we are first introduced to Rick’s Café Americain and its cynical proprietor Rick Blaine (Bogart).

A shady fellow named Ugarte (Peter Lorre) comes to Rick with the letters and asks Blaine to keep them for him. However, later that night Ugarte is taken into custody, and things begin to get even more complicated. Wanted resistance leader Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) is now in Casablanca, however, a Major Strasser has arrived from Germany to take him in. To top it off, Laszlo’s wife Ilsa (Bergman) was Blaine’s old flame in Paris and, needless to say, it didn’t end well.

Laszlo desperately needs the letters of transit to escape, and he inquires about them. Soon he is led to Blaine, but as Rick often admits he sticks his neck out for nobody. Knowing all too well that he is in danger, Laszlo still shows his defiance against his enemies by leading the people in a round of “La Marseillaise” and as a result, Rick’s is shut down.

All the memories of Paris begin flooding back, and then Ilsa confronts Rick in order to get the letters. This is possibly the most critical point in the film because this tense altercation ultimately renews the relationship between Rick and Ilsa. Rick asks her to trust him, and he begins to take things into his own hands. The results of his actions created one of the great romantic and cinematic moments in the history of film. The whole film leading up to this point hints at it, but Rick truly is a sentimentalist at heart. He can live with the notion that they will always have Paris and that leads him to commit a selfless act of love.

This film holds such a tremendous presence in movie history, and upon seeing the movie it makes complete sense what all the hype is about. What more could you want than Bogey, Bergman, Casablanca, and some of the greatest quotes ever uttered? Do not forget the corrupt, but nevertheless lovable French Captain Louis (Claude Rains), who delivers some terribly witty lines. Honestly, he may be my favorite character in the whole film, and that’s saying a lot!  Then, of course, there is the immortal tune of “As Time Goes By,” sung by Dooley Wilson which will forever be ingrained in film lore.

However, you also gain an appreciation for the other interesting characters of Casablanca, some comical, some sympathetic, and others despicable. We have a rogue gallery of everybody under the sun from Peter Lorre, Sidney Greenstreet, German soldiers, various guests, and all the staff at Rick’s Place. This movie has conflict and the uncertainty of war in practically every scene because at the time World War II was in full force. There are a broken romance and a forlorn hero who shows his courage in the end. As an audience, we come to realize the transformation of Rick into a truly great man. Ilsa on her part has the most radiant face I have ever seen.

It is wonderful that Casablanca succeeds as entertainment despite the fact that it is not modern. In fact, part of its charm is the black-and-white cinematography that helps make Rick’s Café so atmospheric. It effectively makes each interior shot moodi34 and every romantic scene even more striking. I am very doubtful that they would ever be able to pull this film off in color. It just wouldn’t work.

You do not need explosions and violence either, only great characters and a story with both drama and humor to reel the audience in. Up until the final moments of the movie you are captivated the entire time. Then, fittingly, you are left with the two men walking off into the night with the words, “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

In fact, with this film, my thoughts always go back to the script. Lines like “Here’s looking at you kid,” “We’ll always have Paris,” and “Round up the usual suspects” are so rampant that you cannot possibly remember them all, and I doubt there will ever be another film that is so immersed in American cultural lexicon. Still, many of my favorite lines in the film are those that get overshadowed by the more famous ones. That is the sign of an amazing film that never grows old. Even those who have not seen this classic film like to think they have, because the influence of Casablanca reaches everywhere. I guess I’m rather an idealist myself, so I would like to think that even if 70 more years pass, we’ll always have Casablanca.