Casablanca (1942)

Everybody comes to Rick’s bar, including expat Rick’s (Humphrey Bogart) former lover Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), in one of Hollywood’s most-loved romantic melodramas.

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“Casablanca is as much about movies as about romantic adventure. It taps our love of movies, our involvement with them, our dreamy bondage by them.”
Jay Carr, The A List: The National Society of Film Critics’ 100 Essential Films, 2002

Set in Vichy-controlled Morocco during WWII, Casablanca revolves around a nightclub run by cynical American expat Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), where resistance fighters, immigrants and Nazis converge to police or partake in an illicit economy. In this colourfully exotic setting, created entirely on the Warner Bros studio lot, an affair is rekindled between Rick and Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), the latter now the wife of a resistance leader.

Directed by Hungarian refugee Michael Curtiz, Casablanca exemplifies the consummately crafted Hollywood drama, in which all the elements seem to have fallen alchemically into place. The screenplay sparkles with memorable lines, the supporting cast overflows with indelible performances, and the whole is given an urgent, topical edge by being made on the cusp of America’s involvement in the war.

Ostensibly an adaptation of Hemingway’s novel, Howard Hawks’ To Have and Have Not (1945), also starring Bogart, is effectively a remake of Casablanca transplanted to Martinique.

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Ranked 84th in the critics’ poll

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