Round up the usual suspects as Warner Brothers brings out a 70th anniversary edition of one of the greatest movies of all time. However, you may have to decide if you want to buy it again… Sam.
1941: Everybody comes to Rick’s. Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) owns Rick’s Café Americain, an upscale nightclub and gambling establishment. It’s in the political hotbed of Casablanca and the clientele are trying to get out of town as quickly as possible. Rick tries to take a neutral he gets drawn deeper into taking sides when thief Ugarte (Peter Lorre) has him hold some unquestionable letters of transit. Ugarte is arrested with great show by Captain Renault (Claude Rains).
Ugarte was ready to sell the papers to resistance leader Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) so that he could outrun the Nazis led by Major Strasser (Conrad Veidt) who do not want him to leave Casablanca. Laszlo arrives with his wife Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) and she instructs piano player Sam (Dooley Wilson) to play a tune.
Rick hears it and storms in telling Sam that he told him never to play it. He sees Ilsa and realizes that his past has caught up with him since of all the gin joints in the entire world she has walked back into his. They shared some time in Paris together when Ilsa thought Victor dead, but now that past relationship will have Rick’s neutrality sorely tested.
The pedigree of Casablanca is without question as it has grown to be one of the most beloved films of all time. However, when they were making it they saw it as nothing special. Just shows how unpredictable a successful film can be. The film contains so many quotable lines and great writing, direction, and acting. It certainly cemented the stardom of Bergman and Bogart - she relatively unknown and him more known for his tough roles than romantic ones.
Warner Brothers has rightfully and painstakingly restored the film and it looks fantastic on Blu-ray. They’ve also lavished on some grand special features. However, most of it is swag in the box but they have made a new documentary. The rest come from the previous releases but they’re still worth looking at.
Although fans will most likely have them from the other release. What you’ll have to decide if the new transfer and offerings will be worth your money. From what I’ve seen of the transfer I’d say so.
Casablanca is presented in fullscreen but with a gorgeous new 4K transfer. Special features are mostly in standard definition, unless noted. Disc one contains the film, a commentary from critic Roger Ebert and another from historian Rudy Behlmer, a 2 minute introduction by Lauren Bacall, the 50 minute “Night at the Movies” option plays vintage items (trailers, shorts, cartoons) that a 1940s audience would’ve seen before the feature, the 80 minute “Bacall on Bogart” about the iconic actor from one who knew him best, the 40 minute HD “Michael Curtiz: the Greatest Director you never heard of” which details his career, the 35 minute HD “An Unlikely Classic” details the film and how it grew into the classic we know, the 35 minute “You Must Remember This: a tribute to Casablanca,” the 7 minute “As Time goes By” where the children of Bogie and Bergman remember, 80 minutes of radio broadcasts and audio options, 12 minutes of outtakes and deleted scenes, an 18 minute vintage “Who Holds Tomorrow” television condensation of the story, the 8 minute Bugs Bunny “Carrotblanca” cartoon, and 5 minutes of trailers. Disc two has the 90 minute HD “The Brothers Warner” about the founding family of the studio, the 5 hour “You Must Remember This” exhaustive history of the studio, and the 60 minute “Jack L. Warner: the Last Mogul.” Disc three is a DVD copy of the film. It’s all housed in an oversized collectible box that also has a 62 page book, poster reproduction, and a case with four coasters. It’s a handsome package.
Casablanca has stood the test of time for its seventy years and will probably do so until the end of time. The new transfer looks pristine and certainly the content of the film is the same. Never has anyone been better as they were in this film. So remember this, until Warner Brothers does another anniversary edition this is a great purchase (I bet if you just want the transfer that they will release a version without the swag in a year or so). We’ll always have Paris.
Visit the DVD database for more information.