Saturday, 4 September 2010

(500) Films of Empire - Day 354

18 - Casablanca - 5 stars
"Casablanca. Greatest screenplay ever written" - Robert McKee.
It's true you know. In the AFI Top 100 quotes list, Casablanca has the most quotes of any film on the list with a mighty six lines, with "Here's looking at you kid" being the highest at number 5. For those who are interested, the number one line is "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn".
It might also be the greatest film ever made too. With only 11 films left to watch on the list, it will take something pretty special to leapfrog it to the title of my personal favourite film of all time. It is up there with the likes of Back To The Future and Raiders Of The Lost Ark that I consider to be perfect and wouldn't want to change a single frame of it.
That final airport scene is better than most entire films, but the whole thing is just wonderful. It has everything. It is a love story, a war film, it has humour, romance, danger, a stirring rendition of La Marseilles, Bogart's best role, it provokes the great argument in When Harry Met Sally about whether Isla really wanted to stay or go, and it does finish the best last line of a film ever.

Casablanca is one of the truly great cinematic love stories, but I'm not just talking about Rick and Isla. I'm referring to the very first "bromance" between Rick and Louis.
What? Don't believe me? Go watch it again.
Louis says things like "Well, Rick is the kind of man that... well, if I were a woman, and I were not around, I should be in love with Rick. But what a fool I am talking to a beautiful woman about another man." and "She was asking about you earlier in a way that made me very jealous...".
Finally, who ends up together at the end of the film? Not Rick and Isla. It's the original Brokeback Mountain as Rick and Louis walk off into the fog together as they start their "beautiful friendship".
If there was to be an award ceremony for the entire (500) Films of Empire list, there is only one choice for Best Supporting Actor and it is Claude Rains as Captain Louis Renault.
Renault is a slimy, sleazy, unscrupulous policeman who is not above murdering suspects and sleeping with women in exchange for exit visas to America, but in spite of all this he is incredibly entertaining and likeable.
In the hands of another actor Renault might have come across as unlikeable but Rains' charisma and wit shine through with the help of the fabulous script and lines like:
Rick: "Remember Louis that this gun is pointed at your heart"
Renault: "That is my least vunerable spot"
Renault: "This bar is closed. I'm shocked to find that gambling is taking place here"
Emil: "Your winnings sir"
Renault: "Oh thank you very much"
If the film were to have one flaw it would be that at a running time of 98 minutes, it is over far too quickly as I could quite happily stay in Casablanca with Rick and Louis for a long, long time.

Days remaining - 11 Films remaining - 11

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