[IMDB Completionists Series - #9 of 85]
Believe it or not, this is the first time I have sat through Casablanca in its entirety. I have seen the end more than a dozen times and the rest of the film in punctuated, intermittent moments that required my attention elsewhere at the time. Only today have I sat down with this and let the whole glorious episode, the point where all true movie lovers need to show suitable respect, wash over me. Late to the party then. I'm guessing there hasn't been much left unsaid, so I'll be brief.
No matter the period, the place or the threat, men have always been predictable animals, particularly transparent to smart, beautiful women. I have personal experience of being broken by a woman, many men have, so that is not uncommon. Only the depth of the betrayal will be felt differently by the man in question. Rick (Bogart) feels it more deeply than most, that much is obvious enough, but still not enough. The undying romantic travelled all the way to Casablanca to get away from the one woman that he truly he gave himself to, only to find her sitting in his bar years later.
He knew, at that moment, that he still loved her, even if he hadn't admitted as much to himself before. Everything that happened in the film from that moment was for reasons of the heart.
The script is absolutely stunning for the time and the performances from Bogart, Bergman, Rains and Veidt are mesmerising and every scene is both gorgeous and valuable, given the criminally short run time. It says something to admit that Peter Lorre was underused and outplayed here, but it remains the case. I am rarely left wanting for more time with characters, but this cuts and runs just quick enough to leave you wanting more.
A purely magical dream of a film.