Hard to believe it’s been 70 years since the director and the many credited and uncredited screenwriters of “Casablanca” struggled right up to the end of filming with the dilemma of whether to let Rick (Humphrey Bogart) and Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) have or have not in that final airport scene.
Should Rick, a hardnosed café owner who remains stubbornly neutral, selflessly allow Ilsa, his former lover, to get on that plane with her freedom-fighting, concentration-camp-escapee husband (Paul Henreid as the heroic Victor Lazlo), or should he selfishly keep her with him in Casablanca, an uncertain, tension-filled stopover haven for refugees fleeing Nazi rule?
The 1942 Michael Curtiz-directed film has been listed by the American Film Institute as the No. 3 best film of all time, and the screen’s greatest love story. It won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay. Lines such as “Here’s lookin’ at you kid” and “Round up the usual suspects,” and especially the song “As Time Goes By,” have become iconic in movie history (along with the infamous misquote, “Play it again, Sam).”
Warner Home Video is releasing a massive box set on Tuesday to commemorate the anniversary of this movie that is at once a tear-jerking love story and an inspiring narrative study in wartime sacrifice, with healthy shots of cloak-and-dagger intrigue and hardboiled action thrown in for good measure.
The limited and numbered box includes a razor-sharp Blu-ray remastering of the film, a regular DVD copy of the film, 14 hours of bonus materials, including two new documentaries—“Casablanca: An Unlikely Classic” and “Michael Curtiz: The Greatest Director Your Never Heard Of,” and three previously released documentaries on the history of the Warner brothers themselves and the building of their studio.
Other goodies for the insatiable collector include a 60-page hardback book filled with rare behind-the-scenes photos, storyboards, production notes and studio office memos, a mini-reproduction of a 1942 French theatrical poster, and a set of four coasters in a keepsake box, so you can drink along with Rick as he grieves over the woman who broke his heart back in Paris. At least they’ll “always have Paris.”
Here’s lookin’ at a little over 50 bucks worth of movie-buff stuff, kid. It’s worth it if you’re that big of a fan.
— Gene Triplett