Black and White is Very Cool, Especially in Casablanca

Last week, I posted the most famous movie quotes of all time, according to the American Film Institute. Now I’ll talk about what is probably the most quotable classic film of all time, Casablanca, made in 1942. Recognize these?

“Here’s looking at you kid.”

“Play it again, Sam.”

“Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

“Round up the usual suspects.”

“We’ll always have Paris.”

The movie itself resonates because it has something exciting to offer everybody, regardless of age, sex or interests. Its genre is categorized as a World War II Romance. However, it is filled with drama, film noir and comedy, crossing many genres.

Most of the scenes and story take place in Rick’s (Humphrey Bogart’s) gambling and drinking establishment, called the Café Americain. It is located in the French-controlled African port city of Morocco, with its exotic Moorish background. The Café is a meeting spot for spies, allied offensives, a crush of European refugees awaiting rare exit visas to America, the Patriotic French and of course Hitler’s ever-preying Nazis. The conspiracy and struggle is heightened by the black marketers, pickpockets, idealists and murderers that a war-torn, desperate place and time like this naturally attracts. It is a sort of sanctuary for Rick, who has in the past been a renowned international soldier of fortune, but for some reason always on the side of the underdog. He has grown tired and cynical, especially after being abandoned at the Paris train station by his haunting lost love, Ilse, as the Nazis march into the city. He wants nothing to do with loyalty and honor anymore, thus his initial famous quote “I stick my neck out for nobody.”

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As the movie unfolds, the oppression of the fascist Nazis is repeatedly conquered by sacrifice and heroism. Redemption is found by many broken under the strain of war. My favorite scene is in the Café when the Nazi soldiers begin loudly singing the German national anthem. Freedom fighter, Victor Laszlo (played by Paul Henreid), stands up and tells the band to play the French national anthem. The bandleader looks to Rick for approval, and even though Rick believes Laszlo to have stolen away his great love, Ilse, he nods for them to play it. The entire café slowly and bravely sings La Marseillaisse, drowning out and infuriating the Nazis.  The scene is shot with many actors who were allies and refugees, while the war was still going on overseas and in occupied France. The tears weren’t in the script, but the actors got carried away.

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There were many additional hilarious and memorable quotes that some may miss at first, but that made my heart thrill. One was when Rick (Bogart), who is sitting at a table with the Nazis, is asked what he would think if the Germans invaded the U.S. He nonchalantly replies to their commander, Strasser, “There are parts of New York I wouldn’t advise you to invade.” Another is when the jolly café waiter, Carl (played by S. K. Sakall), says he already gave Strasser the best table because, “being a German, he would have taken it anyway.” Rick’s coolness and cynicism could never have been believably melted by any other actress than the famous Ingrid Bergman, who plays Ilse. Her incandescent beauty and warmth on screen makes you hold your breath at times. I am awed when Bogie comments about the last day he saw Ilse in Paris, with frigidness and yet deep pain. He says, “I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray. You wore blue.”

The movie doesn’t have all the high-tech effects of films today. However, if one is paying attention, you notice that every single scene is shot with admirable forethought and artistry. Unfortunately, wartime regulations at the time forced the majority of the film to be shot on studio soundstages. There was a lot of dispute over the final scene at the airfield. Many wanted a happy ending, with the renewed love between Rick and Ilse enabling them to go off into the sunset together. However, the original play ending was used. Rick delivers his self-deprecating quote, “The problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.” In the end, he sends Ilse off with her husband the freedom fighter, Laszlo, because he knows that she gives him an integral strength in his resistance movement. He is however healed by their reunion in Casablanca and ready to rejoin the great fight, with his friend the French Police Prefect, Louie. It has also been speculated that the ethics overseers at the time (PCA) would have rallied against a scene where a woman leaves her husband, especially since he’s a war hero.

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Please comment on your favorite Casablanca moments.


Top 50 Film Quotes

People are impressed by those who can cite funny or compelling movie quotes at just the right moment. They are great ice-breakers and conversation starters, as well as just summing up a thought well at poignant moments. I like trying to figure out what movie the quote came from. Since the American Film Institute recently released its choices for Top 100 Film Quotes of all time, I thought it would be great to share half of them with you this week. To see the whole list, as well as the 400 quotes that were voted on originally, visit AFI here.

I would love to hear the film quotes that are your favorites, not necessarily from this list, and the reactions you get from others when you use them. Please leave us all a comment.

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1 Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. GONE WITH THE WIND 1939
2 I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse. THE GODFATHER 1972
3 You don’t understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could’ve been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am. ON THE WATERFRONT 1954
4 Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore. THE WIZARD OF OZ 1939
5 Here’s looking at you, kid. CASABLANCA 1942
6 Go ahead, make my day. SUDDEN IMPACT 1983
7 All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up. SUNSET BLVD. 1950
8 May the Force be with you. STAR WARS 1977
9 Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night. ALL ABOUT EVE 1950
10 You talking to me? TAXI DRIVER 1976
11 What we’ve got here is failure to communicate. COOL HAND LUKE 1967
12 I love the smell of napalm in the morning. APOCALYPSE NOW 1979
13 Love means never having to say you’re sorry. LOVE STORY 1970
14 The stuff that dreams are made of. THE MALTESE FALCON 1941
15 E.T. phone home. E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL 1982
16 They call me Mister Tibbs! IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT 1967
17 Rosebud. CITIZEN KANE 1941
18 Made it, Ma! Top of the world! WHITE HEAT 1949
19 I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore! NETWORK 1976
20 Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. CASABLANCA 1942
21 A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti. THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS 1991
22 Bond. James Bond. DR. NO 1962
23 There’s no place like home. THE WIZARD OF OZ 1939
24 I am big! It’s the pictures that got small. SUNSET BLVD. 1950
25 Show me the money! JERRY MAGUIRE 1996
26 Why don’t you come up sometime and see me? SHE DONE HIM WRONG 1933
27 I’m walking here! I’m walking here! MIDNIGHT COWBOY 1969
28 Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By.’ CASABLANCA 1942
29 You can’t handle the truth! A FEW GOOD MEN 1992
30 I want to be alone. GRAND HOTEL 1932
31 After all, tomorrow is another day! GONE WITH THE WIND 1939
32 Round up the usual suspects. CASABLANCA 1942
33 I’ll have what she’s having. WHEN HARRY MET SALLY 1989
34 You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow. TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT 1944
35 You’re gonna need a bigger boat. JAWS 1975
36 Badges? We ain’t got no badges! We don’t need no badges! I don’t have to show you any stinking badges! THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE 1948
37 I’ll be back. THE TERMINATOR 1984
38 Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES 1942
39 If you build it, he will come. FIELD OF DREAMS 1989
40 Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.File:Forrest Gump poster.jpg FORREST GUMP 1994
41 We rob banks. BONNIE AND CLYDE 1967
42 Plastics. THE GRADUATE 1967
43 We’ll always have Paris. CASABLANCA 1942
44 I see dead people.The Sixth Sense THE SIXTH SENSE 1999
45 Stella! Hey, Stella! A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE 1951
46 Oh, Jerry, don’t let’s ask for the moon. We have the stars. NOW, VOYAGER 1942
47 Shane. Shane. Come back! SHANE 1953
48 Well, nobody’s perfect. SOME LIKE IT HOT 1959
49 It’s alive! It’s alive! FRANKENSTEIN 1931
50 Houston, we have a problem. APOLLO 13 1995

Is it a “Classic” or is it Just Old?

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!”

But perhaps YOU want to be able to wow others with your classic film knowledge, or learn more about what makes a classic so quotable. Let’s start with this quote, one which most people will hear and immediately recall its film origination. They may even picture in their minds the southern bells in petticoats, Clark Gable with his signature moustache, and the magnificent plantation homes burning in the background. Gone with the Wind, the civil war epic, is definitely a classic film and only the delusional would challenge that one.
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Still, there are a lot of opinions out there about what makes a real “classic.” It’s no wonder when the first two translations for the word are…

  1. of the first or highest quality, class, or rank: a classic piece of work.
  2. serving as a standard, model, or guide: the classical method of teaching arithmetic.

That leaves a lot of room for interpretation. I read up on other movie buff’s sites to see how they seemed to define it. Most felt it’s a film that’s old enough to have been talked about a lot and become ingrained in people’s minds. Some say anything made up to the late 1980s. Others say the 1970s, when the Hollywood studio system was alive. The Classic Film Guide blog said that a film needs to have received a significant amount of recognition to meet their criteria. What does that mean anyway? I’m also told it’s a film that’s recognizable and memorable to many people, due to certain iconic elements like famous actors, quotes, soundtrack, cinematography or wardrobe among others. It tends to be the older movies because they appeal to people of all ages with compelling stories… meaning they didn’t just rely on sex, violence, vulgar humor, spectacular special effects or big celebrities to sell them at the box office. Nevertheless, I think anyone hearing the quote “Hasta la vista, Baby” from one of the most “classic” cult  films ever, Terminator 2 made in 1991, would throw the age criteria out the window.

Check out Arnold delivering this very cool quote here on You Tube.

Basically, the word memorable best epitomizes “classic” for me. In fact, classics are memorable often due to their subtlety of message. Instead of being “in your face” like most movies today, they allow you to engage the imagination. Most classics say something about the life and times they were made in, but in such a way that viewers are required to think. They stimulate emotion and with the realization of the moment, you feel swept away by the romance, happiness, humor, sadness, horror or hatred conveyed. Classics are movies that you can watch over and over again and be transported each time, always enjoying something new. I believe this is true because more talent and quality, in the form of great acting, storyline, dialogue, music, cinematography, sets and wardrobe, etc., are necessary to unravel a story that delightfully tickles the senses like a “classic.” It’s no wonder they are burned into our minds and we want to repeat the experience.

These are the kinds of movies that we will sit in the dark and examine in all their glory. Hopefully, you will join us and be transported too. I’m sure that you’ll find it to be the best couple hours of escape imaginable. Well… except for that other pleasure of course. Join me next week for a review of one of the most famous romances ever, Casablanca! I’ll leave you with a quote from that one too…

“Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

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By the way, leave a comment and let us all know what your favorite classic films are… and why you believe they are true classics. Maybe we’ll add them to the list for future review!