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Casablanca  [DVD]
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Classic war-time drama which has been mis-quoted for decades. During World War II former lovers Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) and Ilse (Ingrid Bergman) are reunited by chance in Casablanca, where he runs a nightclub and she, with her husband (Paul Henreid), is working for the French Resistance. Recriminations, rekindled desires and patriotic duty battle for primacy as Ilse's husband tries to outwit the local Nazis and escape from Morocco, whilst Rick and Ilse re-kindle their love and decide to run away together...
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 an alternate DVD edition.See all Product description
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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.
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).
If ever there was a perfect film, this was it. 5 stars.
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