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Casablanca [Blu-ray]  [US Import]
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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 --This text refers to the DVD edition.
Casablanca: easy to enter, but much harder to leave, especially if you're wanted by the Nazis. Such a man is 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 Victor's wife Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), the ex-lover who broke his heart. Ilsa offers herself in exchange for Laszlo's transport out of the country and bitter Rick must decide what counts more - personal happiness or countless lives hanging in the balance. Winner of three Academy Awards including Best Picture, the Casablanca Ultimate Collector's Edition marks nearly 70 years as a beloved favorite with a new digital transfer and so many bonuses that no matter how often you've viewed the film itself - this gift set provides a most compelling reason to foster a whole new beginning of our continuing friendship with this unforgettable classic. --This text refers to the DVD edition.
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It's black and white. It's got Humphrey Bogart in it. But it's also a bit unusual, being a WWII war-era film where the war is totally fundamental to the plot, but nonetheless remains in the background. And, despite the cover showing Bogey with a gun and a trilby, it's not normal noir either.
Bogart is Rick, who runs a popular bar, hiding out from a shady past in Casablanca, Morocco, which at this time is Vichy French territory. Claude Rains is great as Capt. Renault, the local cop who 'blows with the wind', and Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet are perfect as oily underworld types. Legend has it that Bogart wasn't friendly with ingrid Bergman, yet their onscreen chemistry was convincing enough to ensure this film became a classic, and made stars of both of them.
There's some great dialogue, and several superb vignettes, such as when Bergman's Ilsa character arrives at the bar, spots Sam (Dooley Wilson) and - in the film's most misquoted line - asks that he 'Play it, Sam. Play As Time Goes By' (not 'Play it again, Sam'!). Rick later delivers another classic, having been unexpectedly brought face to face with his former flame: 'Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.'
Lisa is now accompanying Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), a famous Czech freedom fighter, and they are trying to escape the Nazis, who are close on their trail. The film explores the potential love triangle, divided loyalties, and issues of moral conscience, all very movingly, and with real period panache.
There's also some terrific humour. I love the exchange between Rick and his girlfriend Yvonne. 'Where were you last night?' she asks, accusingly. 'That's so long ago, I don't remember' he retorts. Then, more or less pleading, she asks 'Will I see you tonight?' Only to be slapped with this superb rejoinder: 'I never make plans that far ahead.' You can see why Woody Allen loved this film so much he created 'Play It Again, Sam' (both a play and later a film).
Of course it is only 4:3 B&W and has mono sound, and the Az blurb is to the point.
Disc one has two commentaries, one by film critic Roger Ebert, the other by film historian Rudy Behlmer, plus an introduction to the film by Lauren Bacall. It is split into 32 scenes which can be accessed from the menus.
The normal menus on Disc 2 give us some scenes that had been cut from the film, various bits of production data, a collection of musical out-takes by Dooley Wilson, and two more features; the brilliant spoof by Bugs Bunny and his usual cronies 'Carrotblanca', and the 21 scene feature 'Bacall on Bogart'. Disc two also has enhanced content that can be used with a PC.
If ever there was a perfect film, this was it. 5 stars.
But this review concerns the quality of the blu ray. On a plasma screen it is absolutely immaculate. On 100' projection it is just about perfect. The slightest of slight hint of grain particularly on indoor scenes. Outdoor scenes are invariably immaculate. As good a monochrome picture as you are likely to experience.
The audio comes through as DTS but is in fact still mono as you would expect. There are ten subtitle options, including English should you wish to see those glorious lines of dialogue. So many classics.
My 70th Anniversary Edition does not actually state anywhere on the box that it is so. It does state that it is a 'new 4K resolution scan' which I assume amounts to the same thing. I can't see any Region information on the box or the disc but it played fine on my UK player.
Of all the Options the 'Warner Night at the Movies' looks interesting. I could watch all the shorts and stuff that were typical of the build-up to seeing Casablanca once you had sat down in the cinema in the 1940s.
It had me leaning forward in my seat. Powerful movie making.
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