Sunday, 26 July 2009

What a Truly Great Film

Well, after watching that rank piece of foetid offal yesterday I decided to make up for long being remiss. Until this afternoon I had never watched Casablanca. I know, it is a difficult thing to admit, but at least I have now corrected the oversight.

Of course I loved the film. It is everything that Indian Jones was not. The story was believable and well-considered, as well as having some meaning. The acting was understated, as was the action. The writing was articulate and witty. There was character development.

The irony is that this film was just another in the continuous Hollywood output of the time. It was written and made quickly in the middle of the war. The screenwriting was a hurried adaption of an obscure play that had never been staged.

So I was thinking that this is what Shakespeare would have produced in modern times. It was for a mass market. It was considered good but unexceptional when first performed. It has an involved plot with some classic elements, with twists. Characters have depth, few are purely malevolent or purely benevolent, and they make mistakes. The most Shakespearean of all is how much of the dialogue is so evocative that it enters into our culture. How the script, written so quickly, is so quotable.

Here’s looking at you, kid.

Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.

Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

If that plane leaves the ground and you're not with him, you'll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.

We'll always have Paris.

Round up the usual suspects.

All wonderful lines, and there are great, witty bits of dialogue that are still well-known, even by those that haven’t seen the film, just like Shakespeare.

And what in Heaven's name brought you to Casablanca?

My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.

The waters? What waters? We're in the desert.

I was misinformed.

In short, if you are ever hiring a DVD and forced to choose between Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Casablanca, you know which I would recommend.

This is not going to become a film-review blog, or any kind of lifestyle blog. Back to normal service as soon as anything interesting happens.

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