Best Picture Winners Part 16 (of 87): Casablanca

casablanca1943

Title: Casablanca
Year: 1943
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains
Director: Michael Curtiz
Runtime: 1 hr 42 mins

Is It Any Good?: It’s a damn masterpiece! Curtiz won Best Director this year, and it isn’t a wonder why. The Hungarian born director keeps this meaty love story to only 102 mins, Curtiz was an early master of pace. He was responsible for directing many great film in the 30’s 40, and even the 50’s. It’s easy to see why this picture won, it’s infinitely beautiful, and in the restored Blu-Ray version I watched looked as good or better than some films that came out this year. It’s script features some of cinemas most iconic lines. And then there’s the performances, whether it’s Bogart’s stone-faced Rick Blaine or Ingrid Bergman’s delicate yet somber Ilsa. Don’t make a mistake there she’s a strong woman, one who sacrifices her happiness in the face of a greater cause. It’s a war movie that unlike much else doesn’t pander to a political agenda and instead focuses on building great characters, and the relationships between them. In that regard it’s almost untouchable. It’s romantic, bombastically so. Thoughtful, and with a real sense of what type of story it needs to tell. One of a simple club owner trying to escape his past, and possibly the Nazi’s. Rick’s exact reasoning for being there is a mystery, but it’s the best kind of mystery indeed!

Memorable Quote: Rick (To Capt. Renault): Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Competition: Much like last year propaganda ran rampant once again. While winner Casablanca was a war film, it’s focus was much different than that of the average propaganda. The most blatant of these was actually the best cinematically and that was In Which We Serve which as a film is great in it’s visuals but bland in it’s narrative. The very boring Watch on the Rhine which couldn’t even be made less so by the brilliant Bette Davis. For Whom the Bell Tolls is carried by Ingrid Bergman, but hurt by sloppy writing and even sloppier directing. We have Heaven Can Wait which is an excellent and lighthearted portrayal. The poor mans Capra flick The Human Comedy it’s corny, sentimental movie magic. Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon (in his third nominee in three years) team up a third time for the biopic of the French physicist in Madame Curie. Though The More the Merrier is of it’s time it’s still watching it even now a fun, light, and refreshing. Henry Fonda kills it in the real, gritty and well-acted The Ox-Bow Incident. Lastly the stuffy overly long 2 hrs and 36 min film The Song of Bernadette. Jennifer Jones took home the Oscar for Best Actress for this stogie feature.

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