Or, please don't play it again, Sam
As I said in my initial piece in this series, there are certain films that movie critics and film buffs are supposed to like. It's almost obligatory if you seriously want to belong to The Club. None more so than "Casablanca."
This 1942 Michael Curtiz film has become the litmus test to weed out those who really aren't dedicated movie aficionados at all. Anyone who doesn't like it (or "Citizen Kane," for that matter) becomes immediately suspect.
Well, I don't like it although, heaven knows, I've tried repeatedly to fall in line and experience the wonder of this political romance about love and conscience and the Nazis. I've gone into innumerable rep houses during my lifetime and forced myself to drink the filmic equivalent of kool aid, but to little avail. I suppose that I'm deficient because I just can't get into it.
There I said it: I. Just. Can't. Get. Into. It. It's that simple, although for the longest time, I couldn't understand why, given that it is adored by so many people and revered by professionals who probably know more than I do.
Consequently, this essay will be short and (relatively) sweet because I really can't think of much to say about Curtiz's much-loved "classic."
Each time I've experienced it, I'd sit there and then my mind would start to wander. Instead of "reading" the film, I'd find myself making mental notes about what I have to do afterwards - call my wife, pick up the dry cleaning, get the car washed. You know the drill. Meanwhile, the film on-screen was being ignored. I'd wager that I've tried watching "Casablanca" more than a dozen times but I'm lucky if I make it to the movie's middle.
Bottom line: I just don't care.
Belatedly, I've reasoned that my reaction has something to do with a resistance to the film's star, Humphrey Bogart (he of the clenched teeth), and his rather stiff acting style, which isn't very companionable or natural.
Frankly, Bogart's iconic stature as an actor has always baffled me.
Again, I just don't get it - either him or his film. However, I'm sure there will be many more attempted viewings of "Casablanca" in my future.
And more mental lists.
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~Humphrey Bogart in "Casablanca"
~photography: Deutsche Kinemathek / Warner Bros. 1942 ©