Superb acting and directing in Casablanca
Casablanca, with Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, Paul Henreid. Warner Brothers picture directed by Michael Curtiz. Now showing at the Paramount.
When we were very young, we went to the picture show to live with the actors in the current offering and aid them in their trials and tribulations and share their joys and sorrows. It never occurred to us that we weren’t needed or that the featured stars were just play acting. It was all very real, and when the hero married the heroine, we also believed they were married in private life — only we never thought of it as a private life.
But as we grew older, we lost that illusion, and only on very few occasions have we ever regained that feeling of living with the actors.
Casablanca gave us that feeling.
The superb acting and detail directing took us to the refugee city of Casablanca, and there we stayed, right by the warm sides of Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, Paul Henreid and Claude Rains. And we’re still there.
But let us talk of Ingrid Bergman, Swedish star, who would have walked away with scene after scene had she not been so ably supported. Miss Bergman is the sensation in Casablanca as was Hedy Lamarr in Algiers; only Miss Bergman has that fresh, clean beauty that needs no glamour, and her acting soon makes you forget what she looks like — you only see what goes on inside her. It is easy to understand why Ernest Hemingway is said to have sent her a copy of his book “For Whom The Bell Tolls,” with the inscription “You are Maria.” As a result, she has been cast in that role opposite Gary Cooper, another Hemingway favorite.
For her role of Ilsa in Casablanca, the Swedish star saw Maltese Falcon six times because she “wanted to know Humphrey Bogart as an actor before working with him.”
Bogart is the tough, but right guy named Rick, whose nightclub is the clearing house for refugees trying to get to Lisbon and the United States. Claude Rains reaches new heights as the shrewd French Prefect of Police who doles out the letters of transit and sways in the political breeze. Paul Henreid has a rather nondescript role of leader in the Underground Movement, who escapes from a Nazi concentration camp to Casablanca with his wife, Ingrid Bergman.
A flashback to Paris in the spring is notable for the tender scenes between a not-so-hardboiled Bogart and Ilsa, whose romance is ended by the arrival of the Germans.
We thought Hollywood had quit making pictures like this, and it is a distinct relief to know it hasn’t.