You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘casablanca’ tag.

Warner Brothers has announced a forthcoming edition of Casablanca on Blu-Ray to be released on 2nd December 2008. The ‘Ultimate Collector’s Edition’ will feature a host of extra features but what is most exciting about this release is of course the High Definition print itself. This will not actually be the first time that the film has been released in High Definition. It received spectacular reviews when it was released on the now (suddenly) obsolete HD-DVD format. Let’s hope the Blu-Ray edition at least matches this previous print and if we’re lucky it could possibly surpass it.

It is interesting how legacy title such as Casablanca continue to make money for studios such as Warner Bros. When films were released during the 20s and 30s it was not conceivable that these films could have a life beyond their initial release. At which point did studios suddenly understand that their giant back catalogues could actually continue to work for them? Did this occur during the late 1970s with the dawn of video or was it earlier?

It wouldn’t surprise me if many of you not only have video and DVD copies of the same film, but have even paid to see them in the cinema several times.

The following are the extras slated for the Blu-Ray release:

Disc 1

Behind the Story

Introduction by Lauren Bacall

Commentary by film critic Roger Ebert

Commentary by film historian/author Rudy Behlmer

1988 TCM special: Bacall on Bogart [Laurel Bacall’s candid and moving reminiscences about her husband’s life and career]

You Must Remember This: A Tribute to Casablanca [Bacall hosts this spellbinding backstage tour]

As Time Goes By: The Children Remember [Stephen Bogart and Pia Lindstrom remember their parents, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman]

Production history gallery

Additional Footage

Deleted scenes


Who Holds Tomorrow? Premiere episode from the 1955 Warner Bros. Presents series, starring Charles McGraw

1995 WB Cartoon: Carrotblanca


Scoring Stage Sessions

Knock on Wood Alternate Version, Wilson with Piano

As Time Goes By Part One Alternate Take, Wilson with Piano

As Time Goes By Part One Film Version, Wilson with Piano

Rick Sees Ilsa Instrumental Medley

As Time Goes By Part Two Alternate Take, Wilson with Piano

As Time Goes By Part Two Film Version, Wilson with Piano

At La Belle Aurore Instrumental Medley

Dat’s What Noah Done Outtake, Wilson with Piano

April 26,1943 Screen Guild Players Radio Broadcast


Theatrical trailer

1992 re-release trailer

Disc 2

1993 documentary: Jack L. Warner: The Last Mogul

Joy Page in Casablanca

Talking of Casablanca, news recently emerged that the actress Joy Page has passed away at the age of 83. She had a small but memorable role in the film as the young Bulgarian wife who pleads for Rick (Bogart) to help her. Although Rick has already made it clear that he sticks his neck out for nobody, he allows her husband to win at roulette in order to pay for the visas they so desperately need.

Page was only 17 years old when she got the part, but it no doubt helped that her mother had recently married studio head Jack L. Warner. Page went on to have small roles in a limited number of films, but also made a variety of television appearances throughout the 1950s.

She was one of the last surviving members of the Casablanca cast. It is said that the only living actress from the film is Madeleine LeBeau, who played Yvonne, the bitter young beauty who Rick forces from his Café.

Watch Joy Page in Casablanca:

Rick is Introduced in Casablanca (1942)

Last weekend The Times offered us their version of the 100 Films of All-Time. While it may have outraged certain readers it also brought up the question of how useful these lists are, and whether they’re helpful or destructive for the reputation of certain films.

As their chief critic James Christopher’s introduction emphasised, the Times critics did not want to ‘rearrange the furniture as other lists do’.[1] Instead they have come up with, as Christopher describes it, a ‘far fresher and younger’ list. In other words they are not afraid to throw out established classics in exchange for very recent films. Christopher proudly boasts about their omission of Citizen Kane. Rather than being a refreshing and bold move, this comes across more as a shallow trick to bluntly signify how this list differs from all others.

Christopher’s reason for this omission is that Touch of Evil has ‘greater resonance than Kane’. But what is he actually saying here? One of the frustrating things about film journalism (the public’s primary source of film writing) are statements that are never clarified. What kind of resonance is he talking about here? The sad part is that many young viewers have real difficulty watching Kane in light of its reputation, and many look for any excuse to either not watch it or deal with what they’ve seen (see it’s imdb page), and this list gives them another excuse to fight it. (For information on how Kane received its reputation see my own post here.)

Here is the Top 10:

10. The Godfather
9. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
8. Sunset Blvd.
7. Kes
6. Vertigo
5. The Shining
4. Chinatown
3. ET: The Extra Terrestrial
2. There Will Be Blood
1. Casablanca

The list’s other obvious trick is to include very recent movies, including Lost in Translation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and There Will Be Blood in the number 2 spot. There Will Be Blood was only released in this country earlier this year and its inclusion is purely intended to fire debate. But since the film was received with unanimously favourable reviews, it’s also a pretty safe bet amongst filmgoers. [2]

So what are these lists for? Christopher states that the point is to ‘stimulate argument’, and so these omissions and submissions are clearly there to provoke reactions from outraged readers. A quick look at the list’s online message board finds a whole list of favourite movies and established classics being waved about in light of their omission: The Third Man, Shane, Lawrence of Arabia (I am not surprised to find no mention of Chaplin in the list). Many have also pointed out that Lee Van Cleef did not play Liberty Valance.

On the one hand these lists could be helpful to viewers as a shorthand as to what to watch next, and indeed many a great discovery could be made by working through 100-lists. But lists are also interesting for what they say about the popularity of certain films, and how film history is considered at that particular moment. The earliest film on this list is Metropolis (1927) which stands alone in representing the entire silent cinema (wouldn’t it be great to see some 1910s movies make one of these lists?). The only films from the 1930s are Duck Soup (1933), The Wizard of Oz (1939) and Gone With the Wind (1939). Films like Metropolis and Duck Soup have come to represent large periods of film history and discerning film viewers know that these periods are rich with many equal titles. In many ways I would choose another film directed by Fritz Lang over Metropolis, perhaps Spione (1928), if only because with its exciting spy narrative would be far more accessible to casual viewers than the complex and brooding Metropolis.

So in many ways these lists fail to promote classic cinema. While it omits Citizen Kane so as to appear forward-thinking, it repeats Metropolis (arguably the most famous silent film) and fails to probe into the earlier decades of cinema. These singular titles are journalistic shorthand for certain decades, and serve to reaffirm a version of film history that goes uncontested.

But then at the top spot sits Casablanca, a film that perhaps represents the ‘classic’ cinema more than any other. Many readers will probably be unimpressed by this conclusion, and it almost seems to counteract Christopher’s insistence of the list’s fresh outlook. At first glance its selection would actually seem to be a far bolder statement than the omission of Citizen Kane: that established, classically-styled Hollywood cinema ultimately trumps films that appear far more radical. But then a glimpse at Christopher’s copy that accompanies this entry ultimately seems to undermine this statement:

Casablanca is the greatest romantic thriller yet painted on screen. No one could accuse Curtiz of minting high art, but does that honestly matter?
Casablanca is shameless entertainment. [3]

Precious space for insightful film criticism is often wasted on hyperbole. In this case it is a statement of fact that the film is ‘the greatest romantic thriller’ of all time, though ultimately how helpful is that statement? It serves to ephasise the film as standing alone (a point which I’ll come to in a moment) and ultimately is unhelpful to an understanding of Casablanca. Of course it is also a wild opinion that I would argue, on the evidence of the list itself, does not actually take many other films into consideration. I perhaps shouldn’t even point out that films are not actually painted at all (yes, even with light).

But here Christopher seems to be defensive, apologetic and detrimental to the film itself. By emphasising Casablanca as being ‘shameless entertainment’ rather than ‘high art’, Christopher intends to proudly champion the film as a product of popular culture. But this conversely suggests that Casablanca sits outside of the realm of ‘art’. Without going into a broad debate this hints at an outmoded idea of what kinds of cinema can be construed as ‘art’, emphasised by Christopher’s pointing specifically to director Michael Curtiz: ‘No one could accuse Curtiz of minting high art’.

This phrase suggests two points: that Christopher is holding Curtiz responsible for Casablanca, and in using the word ‘Curtiz’ is actually referring to the visual style of the film. This is very common practice in contemporary film criticism and journalism. It has become an absolute reflex to refer to a director as solely responsible for the film as a whole (i.e. Curtiz’s Casablanca, Hitchcock’s Vertigo). The director’s role has also solely been reduced to that of visual style. Here Christopher is using Curtiz’s name to refer to the film’s visual style: ‘No one could accuse Curtiz of minting high art [through the film’s visual style]’.

The visual style of Casablanca is a classical one. Watching other Hollywood films of the period and you will see a similar style – establishing shots, two-shots, medium close-ups, shot/reverse-shot. The editing works stealthily and follows a clear logic (a man leaves one room, cut to the next room). Wild shots and jarring editing are rare, and this all works to make the machinations of the movie invisible to the viewer, to never remind them that they are watching a movie. Some see this as an anonymous style, and some confuse it as being uninteresting work on the director’s part. Taking this into account, Christopher is undermining the film here by suggesting that you cannot accuse Curtiz’s input (in other words the film’s visual style) of taking cues from anything as sophisticated as ‘high art’. In fact the classical Hollywood style is an incredibly sophisticated visual system, of which Casablanca is a fine example. Its visual style is particularly economic, taut and sensitive in the telling of the film’s complex story.

Lists tend to make their films appear scattered, disjointed and disconnected from each other. They are seemingly to be watched alone, in isolation, and to be judged solely on the experience of watching them today. ‘Are they still “good”? Can I relate to this in the 21st Century? How does this old film offer similar experiences to new ones?’ The one problem with this method is that we may not be equipped with the context to understand a film from the past. One of the great pleasures of watching classic cinema stems from viewing films in relation to each other. This allows the interrelated films themselves to provide part of the context required for a closer understanding of them. Perhaps a more equal list would be 100 films selected from each of 100 years, forcing a selection from eras that are usually neglected.

What do you think about Top 100 Films, and this list in particular? Do you find them useful and if so how do you use them?


[1.] James Christopher, ‘Take your seats’ in ‘The Times The Top 100 Films of All Time’, Saturday 26th April 2008, p.3.

[2.] I do find it strange when films receive either unanimously dreadful reviews as well as unanimously favourable ones; in both cases it can’t help but affect the reader’s/viewer’s perception of the film.

[3.] James Christopher, ‘Casablanca’, in ‘The Times The Top 100 Films of All Time’, Saturday 26th April 2008, p.33.

Contact Me

Christian Hayes
The Classic Film Show on Twitter

Add to Technorati Favorites
September 2021

The Classic Film Show on Flickr