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They had a date with fate in Casablanca! 

Year: 1942 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 (Academy) 
Certificate: BBFC U Cert – Universal 
Subtitles: This film is expected to have certain elements which are subtitled, but it is not expected that the entire film will contain them. 
Directed by Michael Curtiz 
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid  
An image from Casablanca

Of all the films at Warwick Student Cinema, this is the one you need to catch most. Seriously, like start planning to watch it right now. Invite all your friends. Round up the usual suspects.

The term “classic” is often misused, yet there is no other word to describe Casablanca, perhaps the defining film of the Hollywood Golden Age, starring arguably the greatest movie icon of all time: Humphrey Bogart. To recite the plot of Casablanca would only be a simplified overview of everything that has been written before; the only thing to do is to recommend experiencing such a film. The film impresses with its sheer joy and delight through quick as lighting dialogue and characters with such individuality that every viewer has a favourite, despite a huge cast that varies from Bogie and Bergman to Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre. The dastardly and charismatic Captain Renault (played by the legendary Claude Rains) gets almost all the best lines, although Rick himself (Bogart) just poaches it with his romantic interplay with Ingrid Bergman’s object of desire Ilsa. Despite being set against the backdrop of the Second World War, Casablanca is uniquely timeless; to add another awful pun, As Time Goes By it just gets better and better.

One of the most memorable, entertaining and overtly romantic films of all time, this is a universal film to be enjoyed by all (a note to those who are often put off by such - the romance is only half of the story). To revert to a cliché and paraphrase an oft-quoted line: if you don’t watch this film, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but soon and for the rest of your life.

Jack Porter

Casablanca. Sixty-three years old, black and white with mono sound, no sex, no gore and no special effects. Its stars have faded, its sequels are unimportant and it has retired to afternoon matinees and TCM. Modern culture holds it as a timeless classic and famous quotes, like “play it again Sam” and “here’s looking at you kid”, stick in our minds even though we have no idea what they mean. But, after all this time and notoriety, is it actually any good? The answer is yes.

During WWII many fled to Casablanca because it offered a route to America and freedom. Rick Blaine, an exiled American and ex-freedom fighter, owns a bar in Casablanca named Rick’s. The Nazis are beginning to occupy Casablanca and the French authority in town Captain Renaut has to co-operate with the newly arrived Major Strasser. Victor Laszlo, a Czech resistance leader is a wanted man, chased by the Nazis across Europe. His arrival in Casablanca causes a great stir and, unless he can leave before the French rule falls, this will be where he is finally caught. Everyone who leaves Casablanca needs a letter of transit signed by an official and so his escape is unlikely. Victor travels with his beautiful wife Ilsa, who enters Rick’s just after a friend has entrusted him with two stolen letters of transit.

In many ways Casablanca greatly benefits from its age; the black and white hues make the stares of love and hate between the characters more intense. The direction and acting, though from another era are highly engaging today and the script is immensely strong, with touching moments between the awkward members of the love triangle as well as scenes demonstrating the passions of war. One moving scene has Laszlo initiating the patrons of Rick’s to sing the French anthem, while the Nazis try to drown it out with their own but fail. There is also comedy, brilliant lines from Rick and Renault giving a human spin to the story. A film that lives up to its representation, everyone should see it at least once.

Nick Grills

Of all the filmsoc's in all the uni's in all the world, this has to come into ours. Yes! The greatest film ever made is here. Fact. This film probably has more memorable quotes than the rest of the season put together, and even when watching if for the first time it seems reassuringly familiar.

Don't let the fact that it is now over 50 years old, or that its romantic elements make this the perfect date movie, obscure the fact that this is actually a war adventure film, with moments of pure action and comedy.

Set in the Moroccan town of Casablanca in the early stages of world war 2, France is still in power, but it's the Germans who are pulling the strings. Bogart plays Rick, an American of dubious past who owns a cafe there, and comes into possession of some very important visa papers. Enter onto the scene Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), a heroic freedom fighter who by a coincidence is in desperate need of some important visa papers, and the evil German Major Strausse (Conrad Veidt) who wants to stop him leaving Casablanca. Everything is complicated by the fact that Rick was once in love with Laszlo's wife, Ilse (Bergman), who jilted him in Paris on the day the Germans invaded. Do they still love each other? Which side is Rick on? Will Sam play it again?

They just don't make 'em like this anymore - sparkling with low life characters like Claude Rains' corrupt french official who sells off visas for sexual favors, Peter Lorre as the slimy thief, and Sydney Greenstreet as the rival cafe owner. Bergman is always stunning (and has a surprisingly large wardrobe for a refugee) and Bogart is just, well, Bogart!

Michael Curtiz directs each set piece with apparent ease (but what do you expect from the man behind classics such as Dodge City, or The Adventures of Robin Hood) towards the most classic ending in the movies, but its really the cracking script that gives this its edge to remain both critically acclaimed and genuinely popular for half a century.

So, here's looking at you kid, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. If you don't see this movie, you'll regret it... maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life!


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Screenings of this film:

1993/1994 Autumn Term (35mm)
1994/1995 Autumn Term (16mm)
1995/1996 Autumn Term (35mm)
2000/2001 Autumn Term (35mm)
2010/2011 Spring Term (35mm)
2015/2016 Autumn Term (digital)
2019/2020 Autumn Term (35mm)