Have you ever wondered what makes a film a classic? Why does the mere mention of its title, like "Casablanca," or some phrase, like "Here's looking at you, kid!" automatically send sentimental thrills through you?
And why, whether you return to the film for a nostalgia fix or guilty pleasure, do you find, always, there's something in that film you didn't notice the first time, making the reaction even stronger?
The resulting appeal of MGM's 1942 "Casablanca"' may be the result of the Hollywood factory skill of those days, with its high standards set for everything from script to production values - the ability to fashion something memorable out of virtually nothing but an exceptional crew and cast - so successful that "Casablanca" continues to be, according to the American Film Institute, the second greatest American movie ever made (topped only by Orson Welles' masterpiece "Citizen Kane"), with "Sunset Boulevard" usually coming up third.
The crowd pleasing "Casablanca," is unarguably among the public one of the most beloved of American films - the captivating wartime adventure of romance, humor, and intrigue with its great cast guided by director Michael Curtiz - defies standard categorization.
In a Copper Country summer rich with special events that included the satisfying Finnfest and annual musical delight, the Pine Mountain Music Festival, it's only fitting that it be topped with this blockbuster classic. And so it shall, next Friday at the Calumet Theatre.
Simply put, "Casablanca" is the story of Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), a world-weary ex-freedom fighter who runs a nightclub in the shady, world-weary city of Casablanca during the early part of WWII. Despite pressure from the local authorities, notably the crafty Capt. Renault (Claude Rains), Rick's cafe has become a haven for refugees looking to purchase illicit letters of transit which will allow them to escape to freedom in America.
As the film begins, one day, to Rick's great surprise, he is approached by a couple: the famed rebel Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) and Victor's wife, Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), who was once Rick's true love but who deserted him when the Nazis invaded Paris. She still wants Victor to escape to America, but now that she's renewed her love for Rick, she wants to remain with him in Casablanca. "You must do the thinking for both of us," she says to Rick. He does, and his plan cleverly brings the story to a satisfying, logical conclusion.
There's a reason why the world loves this wartime film more than should be strictly legal: the heartbreaking performances from the two leads aided and abetted by some of MGM's finest stars Sidney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, S.Z. (Cuddles) Zakall, Conrad Veidt and Dooley Wilson (as pianist Sam who plays "it" again) - and with a youthful Curtiz at the helm, directing a script that actually was written and rewritten as the film progressed to its inspired conclusion all this with "As Time Goes By" tying it all together how could it not become an everlasting classic?
Then, of course, there are the memorable bits of dialogue that aficionados toss around as if they invented them: "We'll always have Paris," "Play it for me, Sam," "I'm shocked! Shocked!" and most memorable of all, before reaching the final knee-slapping statement, there's Rick's "Here's looking at you, kid."
It's one of those rare films where every shot and every quotable line of dialogue counts; there's not a dead patch and not an improvised line in the entire film within a plot that works with Swiss-watch precision. To quote Bogart from an earlier film, "It's the stuff that dreams are made of."
Said one critic, "To learn why it's a timeless classic, every man, woman, and child should see it - again, and again, and again."
And now, the good news:
By special arrangement, "Casablanca" will be shown on Friday the 12th at the Calumet Theatre as July's Club Indigo. The movie will begin at 7:15 p.m., preceded at 6 p.m. by an exotic Mediterranean buffet from chefs at the Keweenaw Co-op, Hancock. Cost for both food and film, $19; film alone, $5. Children 10 and under at this PG-rated film receive a discount.
Since a large audience is expected, a call to the theatre before 5 p.m. on Thursday the 11th should be made for a place at the buffet: 337-2610.
The movie has been brought to the Calumet Theatre's big screen by the sponsorship of the Gas Light General Store, Copper Harbor.
Coming Attractions: In keeping with Club Indigo's tradition of featuring memorable Hollywood classics during the summer months, the selected August 9th film, of particular interest to Copper Country residents, will be an equally satisfying classic, Otto Preminger's "Anatomy of a Murder."
Rotten Tomatoes average: "The Heat," B-