Thursday, January 23, 2014

New Things: Watch 'Casablanca'

Each year on my birthday, I make a list of new things I want to try. Some are hard, some are easy, some are shockingly mundane.  You can read about previous adventures here.


Growing up, I didn't particularly care about movies. I spent most of my time swimming, constructing weird tree forts, and writing stories about pioneer mice families.

As such, I've managed to reach adulthood without seeing, oh, most every movie.  I didn't see Goonies till I was 21 (and that's not a great age to see it for the first time), I've seen The Princess Bride once, and my only knowledge of Casablanca was based on all those times it was referenced on The Simpsons. But!  I am always on a quest to see if classics are Any Good, so a few months ago some girlfriends and I piled onto the couch, made some thematic food, and borrowed the DVD from the library. 

In case you don't know, Casablanca is a movie set during WWII in the largest city in Morocco. Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) is an exiled American and former freedom fighter who now runs the most popular nightspot in town. The cynical lone wolf Blaine comes into the possession of two valuable letters of transit. When Nazi Major Strasser arrives in Casablanca, the sycophantic police Captain Renault does what he can to please him, including detaining a Czechoslovak underground leader Victor Laszlo. Much to Rick's surprise, Lazslo arrives with Ilsa, Rick's one-time love. Rick is very bitter towards Ilsa, who ran out on him in Paris, but when he learns she had good reason to, they plan to run off together again using the letters of transit.

As you probably know, it's a really good movie. The story is interesting, it's well-acted, and you probably wouldn't see the end coming - if it wasn't completely embedded in pop culture at this point.

Here are some observations we made while viewing Casablanca:

* The Rick/Ilsa age gap is, um, uncomfortable making. If we did the math right, his character is 16 years older than her.  And she was, like, 19 when they met?  Dude.  Leave it alone.

* Fedoras are painfully stylish.

* Mustaches makes you look dicey. File also under: DUR.

* You seem deep when you mumble/don't open your mouth too much.

* White jackets are extremely underrated.  Dapper!  Interesting!

* Sometimes you need to love someone enough to leave them alone.  I'M LOOKING AT YOU, ILSA.

Have you seen Casablanca?  What'd you think?  What are some other classic movies that live up to the hype, in your opinion?

17 comments

  1. We had a 1940's style wedding and my husband rocked the *Bogie* white jacket and black bow tie ;) I have only seen Casablance once, but I loved it :) My all-time fave movie is another underrated 40's classic: 'It's a Wonderful Life" :) Most people only see it as a Christmas movie, but it so, so much more than that, so truthful, so relatable, so real, superbly acted, it brings me to tears every single time I watch it!

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    1. That's such an awesome theme! And I didn't see It's a Wonderful Life until last year, but I loved it! I agree, it's so relatable and incredibly moving. :)

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  2. I saw this movie in my American Movies class in college and loved it! :) Another classic you should check out is An Affair to Remember. :) Oh, and I don't find the age gap too unsettling. I was only 19 when I fell in love with a man 12 years older than me. We went on to live together for a little over 4 years.

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  3. I saw it years ago, so I cannot remember that much. But all in all I love old movies 'cos they're so... film-like! You know you're watching a movie and I like that vibe. Plus all the fashion. ;)

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  4. Oh my, I'm so with you on having certain movie knowledge gaps. Haven't seen Goonies, Singin' in the Rain, It's a Wonderful Life. I fell asleep during Princess Bride and haven't tried again.

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    1. I haven't seen some of those, either! I *know* I've seen Goonies, but I can't remember almost anything about it. I was more of The Sandlot era. :)

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  5. I haven't ever seen The Princess Bride, so I really try to get out of conversations where people are quoting it. I've only seen Casablanca once, and it was just a few years ago, too, for the reasons you listed. Gone With the Wind is another one of those huge, Important movies. It's the movie my mom first saw in theaters so we watched it one day. Good golly, it's long, but it was good and I'm glad I saw it.
    Sarah M

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  6. If you like Casablanca you should watch To Have and Have Not, it's another Bogart film. I also really love, and would recommend, Some Like It Hot and It Happened One Night. Or any old musical movies like Singin In the Rain, An American In Paris, and Gigi. I love old movies, sometimes they can be a little absurd, but usually they are still popular for a good reason.

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  7. I put Casablanca on my "to watch before turning 30" list and I really enjoyed it. I was amazed that I didn't know the ending and I was also amazed at how many movies/tv shows have referenced it.

    If you haven't seen it, I'd recommend The Philadelphia Story with Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and Jimmy Stewart. Stewart is adorable, Cary Grant has some of the best lines, and Katharine Hepburn is at her most Katharine Hepburn-iest (in a good way.)

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  8. you absolutely MUST watch a few of the old Barbara Stanwyck films. Any of them from the pre-code days. I had no idea these even existed! I knew Ms. Stanwyck from the Big Valley days but oh boy, she was something so special. The Ladies They Talk About, Lady Eve, Double Indemnity. You will not be sorry!

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  9. Oh, this makes me happy to read this post. Happy, wait...is that the correct word? Well anyhow, I'm glad to know that I'm not alone in not seeing a lot of "Classic" movies. My friends always look at me shocked when they mention movies, and I tell them i've yet to see them. Movies weren't a big thing when I was growing up, and up until a few years ago have I really gotten to be one that enjoys them.

    I haven't seen Casablanca yet,either!

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  10. A fair few years ago my Dad and I did a movie swap where we had to watch a movie of each others choosing.
    I had to watch Casablanca and my Dad had to watch Camp Rock (I picked that movie mainly because the idea of my Dad watching it just tickled me!)
    I don't remember much about Casablanca, but I remember not hating it.
    My Dad didn't really love Camp Rock, but it's better than what my sister made him sit through - Transformers. Blegh!

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  11. Classic films were a HUGE part of my upbringing. I've missed out on more modern film culture than anything else. (I didn't see Goonies til I was 24, so you did better than me in that arena.) I adore Audrey Hepburn films (espeically Roman Holiday, How to Steal a Million, and Sabrina.) The Bachlor and the Bobbie Soxer starring a teenage Shirley Temple and Cary Grant is also amazing. The Great Escape with Steve McQueen is also good. I could go on for forever, but those are a few to start with. :)

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  12. My all-time favorite classic movie is North by Northwest. A few of my other favorites are Charade, To Catch a Thief, and Rear Window. I guess I sort of have a thing for Hitchcock movies with Cary Grant in them. I'll also second the people above who recommended The Philadelphia Story and Singing in the Rain.

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  13. I've learned SO much from The Simpsons without even realising it. When we studied A Streetcar Named Desire in year 11 English I already knew pretty much the whole plot, but was very disappointed to learn it wasn't actually a musical. Boo.

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