My current Top 5

My current Top 5


Number 09: Casablanca (Best Picture Ranking)

What is it about Casablanca that makes it such perfection? Humphrey Bogart? Sure he’s great but I would never call it the performance of his lifetime. Ingrid Bergman? I doubt that she has ever been more luminous but again – she has given much more complex and challenging performances in her career. Claude Rains? A perfect supporting performer with a wonderful part but he alone would never be enough to give Casablanca the number 9 in my ranking. The direction? Perfectly competent but nothing earth-shattering. The screenplay? Full of memorable dialogue and one-liners but also with many flaws (I know that they are in Morocco but somehow I can never believe that Laszlo would be able to parade right in front of the Germans the whole time or that he could just turn out the light in his bedroom and immediately the guys who followed him would go away because they think he went to bed). Yes, the ingredients of Casablanca aren’t really that outstanding – but put everything together and watch how it becomes one of the greatest movies of all time.

Humphrey Bogart gives maybe not the greatest but still definitely the most iconic performance of his career as Rick – his portrayal is a wonderful combination of his usual ‘tough-guy’ image and a lovely sensitivity and his chemistry with Ingrid Bergman is certainly outstanding. Ingrid Bergman herself is so beautiful to look at in Casablanca that 2 hours of her standing around and staring at either Humphrey Bogart or Paul Henreid would have been enough but thankfully she, too, fills her part with a lot of energy and dedication. Her worried Ilsa who is caught between two men is, just like in the case of Humphrey Bogart, not the best performance of her career but it is certainly very high up. Paul Henreid is unfortunately very pale compared to these two stars but I don’t want to complain about him as much as a lot of others do – he’s maybe not very sensitive or convincing as a love interest for Ingrid Bergman but he is very good in showing his character’s determination to fight the Germans. Claude Rains, probably the greatest supporting actor to never win an Oscar, almost steals the show as Captain Renault.

The love story in Casablanca works very well even though everything about this movie shows that this was simply ‘another Humphrey-Bogart-movie’ – nothing about Casablanca indicates that anyone was expecting it to become a financial or critical success and maybe this is the reason why it works so well. It combines the atmosphere of ‘old Hollywood’ with a timeless story of love and courage flawlessly. Besides the main plot there are also several supporting characters who also help to add to the overall impact of the story. And the ‘battle scene’ between ‘La Marseillaise’ and ‚Die Wacht am Rhein’ (which is not the national anthem of Germany, just in case you’re wondering) is probably one of the greatest scenes ever in a Best Picture winner – the look on Ingrid Bergman’s face as she watches Paul Heinreid, the sadness and happiness of the other characters, the feeling of resistance in the face of terror comes together perfectly.

I am sure that many of you would have liked to seen this movie a little higher but number 9 is nothing to complain about!


Louis Morgan said...

I actually do not know where I would place this. The first time I watched it I was bored, second time I thought it was quite good actually, so I think it is due for a third viewing.

Anonymous said...

Amazing review, your reviews for this top 10 are certainly all great, I agree with you 100% and I'd probably place it somewhere near number 9 as well.

Fritz said...

Thanks a lot! :-)