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Updated: Jul 5, 2023

The legendary CASABLANCA is just as powerful and hypnotic today as it was 80+ years ago when it hit the big screen.

Made in 1941 and released in 1942, it's a dramatic statement on America finally joining World War II after waiting until Pearl Harbor delivered it to our back door.

Humphrey Bogart is Rick Blaine, an American ex-pat running the most popular nightclub in Morocco. The city is swarming with spies, military figures and desperate people hoping to escape to America.

Rick is neutral, providing an oasis in the middle of conflict. He's close to Captain Renault, head of the local French police, perfectly played by Claude Rains. As the Nazi's encroach, German officers such as Major Strasser (Conrad Veidt) become regular's at Rick's. Signor Ferrari (Sydney Greenstreet) and Ugarte (Peter Lorre in a small but powerful role) traffic in official documents needed to escape Casablanca.

Rick's life is disrupted when former love Ilsa (the stunning Ingrid Bergman) arrives on the arm of Victor Laszlo (Paul Henried) leader of the Czech Resistance. The Nazis want Laszlo, Rick wants Ilsa and everyone wants out of Morocco.

Classic moments abound.

Club pianist Sam (Dooley Wilson) playing & singing "As Time Goes By", Laszlo leading all the patrons of Rick's in a rousing rendition of "La Marseilleise" to drown out a table of Nazis singing in the corner and Rick's masterful control of the roulette wheel as his neutrality begins to slip are all legendary moments in film.

Director Michael Curtiz keeps everything moving through a lot of exposition, bathing everything in black and white shadows. The film looks incredible, even though the miniatures and special effects rarely transport you out of the Warner Bros backlot. The screenplay by Julius and Philip Epstein is one of the all-time best, loaded with lines that have become part of film history.

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

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

"Kiss me. Kiss me as if it were the last time."

"I might as well be frank, monsieur. It would take a miracle to get you out of Casablanca, and the Germans have outlawed miracles."

"Round up the usual suspects."

" I wouldn't bring up Paris, it's bad salesmanship."

Annina: Monsieur Rick, what kind of a man is Captain Renault? Rick: Oh, just like any other man, only more so.

The last 30 minutes is flawless, leading to the famous final scene bathed in suspense, action, romance and escape.

Often referenced but never equaled, Casablanca gets an A+ and a spot in my all time Top 100 films. Try to walk away without Max Steiner's classic score ringing in your ears.

Here's looking at you, Kid.

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