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Casablanca (70th anniversary reissue)


Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Dooley Wilson, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, S Z Sakall

Director: Michael Curtiz

Morocco, 1942, at the height of World War Two. In the middle of quasi-neutral Casablanca sits Rick's Cafe Americain, a swish nightclub run by a US ex-patriate (Bogart), who keeps an uneasy truce with the local police chief (Rains) and Nazi chief of staff (Veidt), while 'not sticking my neck out for anyone', as various refugees descend on the club in search of the papers that will give them safe passage to the western world.

The one night, Rick's former lover Ilse (Bergman) turns up with her new husband, resistance leader Victor (Henreid), in need of just such papers...

You must remember this, perhaps Hollywood's best-loved movie, which won three Oscars, including Best Picture. Warners originally wanted Ronald Reagan and Ann Sheridan for the leads. What they got was Bogart, Bergman and immortality.

Director Curtiz, who brilliantly caught Casablanca's raffish atmosphere in a Hollywood studio, also won an Oscar.

It's so much Bogart and Bergman's film that you almost forget that Rains, Henreid, Veidt, Greenstreet and Lorre were in it too, all making unforgettable contributions, along with Wilson as Rick's pianist Sam (in reality he couldn't play a note). They're all long gone now, but you get the feeling that, somewhere in the great cinema in the sky, Rick's Cafe Americain is still open for business.

David Quinlan

USA 1942. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers . Black and white.
102 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

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

Review date: 28 Nov 2022