Casablanca (1942) – DVD Review

Casablanca DVD cover art

Film:
DVD:

Written by: Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, Howard Koch & Casey Robinson, based on the play Everybody Comes to Rick’s by Joan Allison & Murray Burnett
Directed by: Michael Curtiz
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Dooley Wilson

Features:

  • “You Must Remember This,” a documentary hosted by Lauren Bacall
  • All-new introduction by Lauren Bacall
  • Theatrical trailer for the film, along with several other classic Bogart flicks

Released by: Warner Brothers
Region: 1
Rating: NR
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 ratio

My Advice: Own the better edition

It’s the second World War–and Casablanca is a stop on the refugee road to freedom from the advancing Nazi hordes. One of the men that everyone knows in town is Rick (Bogart), who owns an American club where you can get music, alcohol, gambling–whatever you need to divert you. However, things get a little dicey when Ilsa (Bergman) and her husband Victor (Henreid) come into town, looking to get the hell out of Dodge. It seems that Victor’s the head of a resistance movement that the Nazis want crushed–complicating things is the fact that Ilsa and Rick have a past together. They need to work it out, since Rick may be the only person who can get them transport to safety–but it needs to happen with a quickness.

There isn’t much one can say about the film itself that hasn’t already been said. There is just a certain something about the film–and this is addressed rather well in the included documentary, which we’ll get to in just a moment–that clicks. It’s the right mixture of drama, comedy, intrigue and romance–nowhere do you ever feel like any portion has gotten the upper hand and is trying to throttle the entire thing into submission. It’s timeless, it’s a classic, and any disc with the film on it alone would be worth having.

Luckily, there is some other good news to be had. You can’t fault people for not having a slew of Criterion-esque features on this thing–because, well hell, the film’s almost sixty years old. But Warner Brothers, who is notorious for not giving a rat’s ass about their classic flicks, gets credit for making the most of it. The documentary is surprisingly comprehensive. I think that they got at least a small comment from pretty much everybody who’s still around and was involved in the making of the film. And they’re good comments too, ranging from the story of the madness surrounding the casting (Did you know Ronald Reagan’s name was once mentioned in conjunction with Rick? Neither did I) to the controversy about the ending. It’s very informative, and not at all what I expected. Kudos.

Humphrey Bogart, Claude Rains, Paul Henreid, and Ingrid Bergman from Casablanca

Humphrey Bogart, Claude Rains, Paul Henreid, and Ingrid Bergman from Casablanca

Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman from Casablanca

Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman from Casablanca

A page from the original play, Everybody Comes to Rick's

A page from the original play, Everybody Comes to Rick's

The only drawback to the documentary is that they tout “recently unearthed outtakes”, but the only ones I could see were small three and four second snippets right before the director called out “action.” Granted, it’s interesting to see the scenes we’ve watched for all these years with people standing around, but that’s about all there is to it.

Of note as well is the wealth of Bogart trailers on the flick–and how hysterically bad they are to modern audiences. I’d love to read a paper on the evolution of the theatrical trailer–and this disc provides plenty of examples of how it used to be done. And you can thank your gods that it’s not that way anymore.

Like I said initially, the film is worth the price of the DVD just by itself. But the documentary being an actual documentary, and being actually informative and worth watching a couple of times (more than the “featurettes” you get on most modern films’ discs)–takes it up a notch. You need it, you know you do.

By | 2011-08-05T04:12:06+00:00 September 15th, 2001|Reviews|0 Comments

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