Film Follies, How Have You Not Seen That?

How Have You Not Seen That?: Casablanca

Of all the blogs, in all the interwebs, in all the world you stumbled onto mine. And I for one am glad you did because today we’re going to be talking about an all-time classic and perhaps the most quoted movie ever. That’s right in this edition of How Have You Not Seen That? I make the rather easy case for Casablanca.

Made in 1942 this wartime film stars Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid in one of the greatest love triangles ever put on film. Not to mention Claude Rains and Peter Lorre in fantastic supporting roles. Put simply this is one of the Great Films. But unlike our last selection Toy Story it is a bit more understandable (if not necessarily excusable) that people may not have been exposed to this film at a young age. It is a black and white film with adult themes and on-screen deaths. Which means I’ll give you till the age of 21 to have seen this before I become incredulous. I’ve heard people say that they just don’t like black and white or old films in general and so they steer clear. Those people are idiots anyway and you shouldn’t care about their opinions. I actually knew I guy who refused to watch any film made before the year 2000 because they were all boring. But supposing you do care about these hopeless cases then this is the one black and white film that might change their opinion on the matter. If not? Screw them they’re heathens anyway.

So assuming that a general mistrust of anything before iPhones is not the reason you’ve yet to see Casablanca. In that case there is hope for you yet. And the truth is you’ve most likely been exposed to Casablanca without realizing it. Do any of these quotes sound familiar? “Here’s looking at you kid” “We’ll always have Paris” “Play it Sam” (often misquoted as “Play it Again Sam”) “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship” “Of all the gin joints, in all the cities, in all the world, she walked into mine” “Round up the usual suspects”. That last one is so famous that it became the title of another all-time great film The Usual Suspects. That’s right even Keyser Söze has seen Casablanca and he’s fictional. What excuse do you have?

If it’s cultural impact doesn’t sway you than perhaps its insight into history will. And as a history lesson Casablanca manages do something brilliantly that few other war movies even attempt. And that’s capture the global feeling of the war. For the most part war films focus on the Americans and the British fighting the Germans in Europe or the Japanese in the Pacific or on the tragic plight of Jewish families sent to concentration camps. Sure there are the occasional Canadians, Italians and French thrown in but very rarely do they manage to portray the sheer scale of the war and its impact on the peoples of every nation. Casablanca manages to do this without ever leaving Rick’s Café. Refuges from every walk of life desperate and willing to do anything to get to America and escape the horrors of war. This movie captures that moment in time like no other and it is an important enough moment in our shared history to be worthy of your time.

But even if those reasons aren’t compelling enough just consider this: No one will ever take any conversation you have about the best films of all time seriously if you have not seen Casablanca. This film won the Oscar for best film, best directing, and best screenplay. It was selected by the Writer’s Guild of America as the greatest screenplay ever written in 2006. It holds places in the greatest films list of the American Film Institute, Time Magazine, IMDB, and has been selected for preservation by the National Film Registry amongst literally hundreds of other honors. Even if you don’t end up liking the film for whatever reason (I’ll go with terrible taste) you’ll at least be able to defend leaving it off your list. But you simply cannot talk about film without having seen this movie. It’s the same as trying to discuss Shakespeare without having read Hamlet or attempt algebra without knowing addition or subtraction. It just cannot be done.

“It doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.” It also doesn’t take much to see that your excuses for not seeing Casablanca don’t add up to a hill of beans either when compared to the reasons for seeing it I’ve outlined above. So get yourself a copy and watch it. Now. Otherwise you’ll be faced with a lifetime of people asking How Have You Not Seen That?  

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