Complete A-Z list

Casablanca (reissue)


Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains

Director: Michael Curtiz

You must remember this (although a contestant on ITV's The Chase professed not to know who played the heroine): Warner Brothers wanted Ronald Reagan and Ann Sheridan for the leads, but what they got was Bogart, Bergman and immortality.

In unoccupied Morocco of World War Two, Bogart's expat American, who fled Paris from advancing Germans, is the taciturn owner of the most popular nightspot in town, a hotbed of intrigue, from which he remains cynically neutral - until his former lover walks in with her new man - a freedom fighter much sought by the Nazis.

'Of all the gin joints in all the world, she walks into mine,' groans Bogey, imploring pianist Sam (Dooley Wilson, who in real life couldn't play a note) to play As Time Goes By - now the theme behind Warners' logo.

Philip and Julius Epstein's script sparkles with cutting, often witty exchanges and memorable lines. It won an Oscar, as did director Curtiz, who brilliantly caught Casablanca's raffish atmosphere in a Hollywood studio. And the film itself was voted Best Picture by the Academy.

It's so much Bogart and Bergman's film that you tend to forget that Henreid, Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet and (briefly) Peter Lorre were in it too, as well as a whole shoal of talented character players. They're all gone now, but it would be nice to think that, somewhere in the great cinema in the sky, Rick's Café Americain is still open for business.

David Quinlan

USA 1942. UK Distributor: Park Circus. Black and white.
102 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 15 Feb 2015