People keep asking me "What's your favourite film?'. And I'm at a loss. So many films...so many great films...how do you decide? But I think I've narrowed it down... looking at all the films I own, I would have to say it was a tough decision between 'Casablanca' and 'Goodfellas'. But I think I would have to give it to 'Casablanca'. It's near flawless. The more times I've seen that film, the more times I'm convinced that there is absolutely nothing about that film that does not work.
Some may say that 'Casablanca' got lucky. I suppose luck was on its side when they chose to release it only three weeks after Eisenhower marched into Africa. But looking back, it was an accomplishment in the true sense of the word. Although 'Casablanca' is most remembered for its romantic idealism, the story did not have a happy ending. 'Havana' tried to recapture 'Casablanca''s romantic idealism and all star cast and the result was a complete failure...because there was more to 'Casablanca' than mere romance. There was mystery, political propaganda, heroism, romance...all mixed into one. The characters are the most well loved characters of our time, but in truth, there was nothing lovable about the characters themselves. They were hypocrits, cynics, liars, underground leaders, and thieves. But somehow the movie let them rise above all that and redeemed them of their various character flaws. The end...I think almost all would agree that it is one of the best movie endings. The movie would not have had the same resonance if Bogey had left with Ilsa. That little selfless act at the end managed to turn Rick into a hero, while throughout the film, he was just a drunken hypocrite, who had given up on life and ran a bar.
But the fact is, if 'Casablanca' had been made today, it would never have been popular. We've all seen too much and know too much. Our cynicism would never let us appreciate a movie of such simple values. But it's nice to believe that life was once a lot less complicated and simpler, irrespective of whether that might be true or not. I could go on and on...but I'm too sleepy. I'll say one thing though...those dialogues that make it the most quoted film (I think besides 'Pulp Fiction') ...to think that it was all an improvised script. Now you tell me, could anyone pull a stunt like that and get away with it today? I quite seriously doubt it.