Tag Archive: claude rains


I Remember Every Detail

Family Movie Night

 

By Karyn Bowman

 

“You played it for her, you can play it for me.”

 

That line and many others come from Casablanca which opened in theaters seventy years ago this week. The movie was released just a few weeks after the war opened on the African front, which explains the map sequence at the beginning of the 1942 film.

 

Poster Image from IMDb.com

Poster Image from IMDb.com

If you have never seen the movie, the story is this: A man runs a tavern and secret casino in Casablanca. Every day more refugees from Europe come to the French colonial city in Morocco hoping to get the necessary papers to leave the county, a stop away from America.

 

One night a famous resistance leader comes to the club looking for such papers for himself and his wife. But what the husband does not know is that his wife and the club owner have a past that occurred during the time everyone thought the leader was dead. The owner has papers everyone wants but the question is what will he do with them as the Germans are breathing down his neck.

 

It is a movie you can watch with your teens but be aware that there are no car chases or crash sequences. There are innuendos about sexual favors and two murders occur on-screen. Dialogue runs this movie and the great lines seem never-ending.

 

“This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

 

I always wonder if a creative person knows they are writing or working on perfection as they do it. The Epstein twins may not have thought they were doing that at the time. This was just another movie they were writing when the studios put out hundreds of movies a year.

 

There are great legends connected to this movie such as Ronald Reagan originally being cast as Rick. Personally, I do not think he had the right amount of dark disappointment to play the casino owner. Bogart, with his string of gangster roles, displayed a man who hid his heart with a layer of toughness.

 

Admit it, you guys. Once you have seen Bogart perform in just about any movie, you want to be as cool as all that. This role defines that elusive male who is tough but able to be so crazy in love that years later he is still angry at the woman who got away. And instead of taking that anger out on the world, every now and again he performs an act of kindness that allows young love to continue on to the new world.

 

This was Bogart’s first truly romantic role. He was given a partner who gave him everything back that he dished out. I am not sure if I ever saw Ingrid Bergman more beautiful, more glowing than in this movie. She is a woman who appears divided between two men of similar standards. She is willing to go to extremes to protect the man she loves but we are left guessing who that man is for the majority of the movie.

 

“Round up the usual suspects.”

 

Perhaps the best judge of any movie is whether or not you would watch it again. Some movies make me feel embarrassed that I ever liked them. When I watch Casablanca I want to be there in the hot and dry African city – going to the club every night, attending Resistance meetings, and looking as stylish as Elsa did in every scene.

 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Break Out the Old Ones

Family Movie Night

Do you ever get on a kick to watch certain types of movies?

 

I have had weeks in which I only watch movies based on Jane Austen books or Jack Black movies.

 

Sometimes, the only thing I want to watch is musicals or animal stories or something I know will make me cry my eyes out.

 

Lately, I have wanted to watch nothing but classic movies. I am talking about movies that were made during the 40s and 50s with actors who brought a certain something with them to the silver screen.

 

 

Movie Poster image from IMDb.com

Case in point – the other night we watched Casablanca (1942). Our 14-year-old stopped to watch the movie with us. I kept saying things like “look, there is Humphrey Bogart. He was a great actor.” Or “look, there is Sydney Greenstreet. He was one of the best character actors around, in his day.”

 

I made him wait for Ingrid Bergman, one of the most beautiful women to ever grace the planet. I wanted him to hear her voice and look at her face to see that glow that only Bergman possessed.

 

But more importantly, I wanted him to hear the script with lines that are ageless. We know the color of Ilsa’s dress when the Germans invaded Paris. We know Rick has a heart despite his front of disinterest. We know that Claude Rains plays the captain with an air of insouciance. 

 

He is shocked to find there is gambling going on at Rick’s just moments before he is handed his winnings. The Germans sing their anthem proudly until the French citizen comes back strong, even those women willing to go out with German soldiers.

 

There are strong moments throughout that remind me what made this movie making so great. Moments that are presented by strong actors such as Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Paul Henreid and S.Z. Sakall.

 

It makes me think about current actors who are just as good. My mind lists quality people such as George Clooney, David Strathairn, Holly Hunter, Jodie Foster, Clive Owen, Nicole Kidman, and Richard Gere. I think of Angelina Jolie, one of the few Hollywood stars that still glow. Helen Mirren, Geoffrey Rush and Brendan Gleeson get me excited. Alan Rickman has been thrilling in performances for over 20 years.

 

Pamela Anederson is "Barb Wire," Image from IMDb.com

Could I see a re-make of Casablanca? I could and there have been remakes of this movie. My favorite is Barb Wire, a so-bad-it-is-good Pamela Anderson vehicle set in a post-apocalyptic world. Good idea, poor execution. I could see a number of men – or women – pulling off the role of Rick.

 

Directed by Michael Curtiz, this movie is a wonderful balance of fear and hope, of passive behavior and aggressive assertiveness.  I enjoy watching Victor’s continued show of strength and Major Strasser’s determined path for the Furher.

 

Next classic movie I plan to watch is Rear Window (1954) starring Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly. The director is Alfred Hitchcock.

 

Do you have a favorite classic?

 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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