Unrequited love, midgets, some of the most quoted dialogue ever written, and Dooley Wilson's ultra cool jazz stylings on the ivories - "Casablanca" simply has it all.
A straightforward romance, about Ingrid Bergman fleeing Nazis and arriving in Casablanca only to find ex-boyfriend Bogart, is elevated to greatness by a cracking cast. Peter Lorre is wonderful as the doomed Ugarte; a slightly sinister Paul Henreid delivers a masterclass in suavity as Bergman's husband; Sydney Greenstreet's obese jollity reassures and repulses in equal measure; and Claude Rains is eternally struggling to suppress his laughter. Then there's Ingrid Bergman? Say what you like about her acting, but no camera before or since ever loved one woman so faithfully and unconditionally.
And if you want real acting, look no further than the oceans of emotion rolling across Humphrey Bogart's craggy visage in a split second as he sees his one true love again, after years apart.
The making of the film was fraught with problems. No-one knew what their role was, what their lines were for the day, or even where to stand for their shots. The blind panic that ensued from day one of shooting makes this perfect film all the more miraculous in its execution. "Casablanca" is a brilliant film that merits inclusion in every self-respecting film critic's top three.
The midgets? They're standing by the plane in the final scene. The producers couldn't afford a real aircraft so a model was built and the scene populated with midget extras to give the illusion of perspective.
Read a review of the "Casblanca" DVD.
Read a review of the "Casablanca"-inspired "Play It Again, Sam".