Casablanca: easy to enter, but much harder to leave, especially if your name is on the Nazis' most wanted list. Atop that list is Czech Resistance leader Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), whose only hope is Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), a cynical American who sticks his neck out for no one
especially Victors wife Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), the ex-lover who broke his heart. So when Ilsa offers herself in exchange for Laszlos safe transport out of the country, the bitter Rick must decide whats more important his own happiness or the countless lives that hang in the balance.
This generously filled two-disc special edition presentation of Casablanca
features the film itself in an impressively clean new digital transfer on the first disc, with hiss-free mono sound. It's prefaced by a rather pointless introduction from Lauren Bacall (it would surely be churlish to point out that Casablanca
was made two years before Bacall met Bogart) and accompanied by two full-length and fact-packed audio commentaries, one from film critic Roger Ebert, who hardly pauses to take a breath, and the other from film historian Rudy Behlmer, who provides in-depth background detail.
The second disc features a plentiful collection of sundry archival features and more from Bacall, who hosts the two documentaries: You Must Remember This: The Making of Casablanca and a retrospective of Bogie's career, Bacall on Bogart. Of minor interest are two very short deleted scenes--Laszlo and Rick at the jail, and a German officer's pratfall--which in lieu of any surviving audio track have been subtitled from the original script; there's also five minutes of silent outtakes. An audio-only sample of Max Steiner's music-scoring sessions features Dooley Wilson singing "Knock on Wood" and "As Time Goes By". There are brief reminiscences from Stephen Bogart and Pia Lindstrom (son and daughter of Bogie and Ingrid Bergman, respectively); Bugs Bunny and pals in Carrotblanca; a curious 1955 Warner Bros TV version of the movie; audio excerpts from the "Screen Guild Players Radio Production" featuring the principal cast; plus the usual static galleries and other trivia. All in all, it's a valuable two-disc set that really does provide everything you always wanted to know about one of the most famous movies ever made. --Mark Walker