Friday, July 2, 2010

Kris and Adam Discuss AFI’s Top 100: Casablanca

Kris Jenson, with whom I've had the best discussions of my life, is an old friend of mine from Boston. We are both finishing off the American Film Institute's Top 100 and writing joint reviews and thoughts as we go. Before you read my response, go read his review at The Daily Fanboy.


While I agree Casablanca is undeniably a great film, I don't really love it. By all measurable standards, it definitely lives up to the hype. Personally, it doesn't do much for me. It's not really possible to to get into the reasons why without coming across really self-righteous or douchey. Hating on Casablanca is like kicking a puppy; there's just nothing to gain from it. On that note, I will list for you some of the moments of the movie I do very much enjoy.

-The Nazis in Rick's Bar insist the band play some patriotic German music. In response Victor (Mr. Ingrid Bergman's character) leads everyone else in the bar to drown out the Nazis with a song of their own. It's a beautifully hopeful moment that lets us all know that even against this oppressive force, there's always something we can do to resist.

-Claude Rains. That's all. He's awesome every time he shows up.

-There's a great scene sort of toward the end that illustrates clearly why a movie like this could not have been made today. The setting, the blocking, the lighting, the acting, everything strongly implies Rick and Ilsa just had a lot of sex. The subtlety of that moment adds so much to the complexity of Rick's decision. Nowadays, we'd have been treated to some hot Bogart on Bergman action, thereby removing any sense of uncertainty we have about their relationship.

For some great re-teamings of these actors, check out Bergman and Rains in Hitchcock's "Notorious" and Bogart, Peter Lorre, and Sydney Greenstreet in "The Maltese Falcon." As a final note, it's worth mentioning in the updated AFI list, "Casablanca" fell from #2 to #3, putting "The Godfather" at #2. This, I very much agree with.

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