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I crossed an item off the list on Saturday!  Well, let me rephrase that; I crossed part of an item off the list Saturday.  You may have noticed over the course of several “Follow-Up Friday” posts, that I have not mentioned any progress towards #14.  It’s possible you gave me the benefit of the doubt, assuming that I either forgot to mention it or maybe I was waiting to watch all 10 movies before reporting that I had completed the list.  If you’ve been with me on this journey for any length of time however, you most likely figured out that I simply hadn’t watched any of these movies yet. 

A couple of factors have played into my lack of progress on this one.  First, my laziness.  The topic of my lethargy has been discussed on numerous occasions so I don’t think there is much to add.  The second factor is the length of most of these movies.  Before I go any further, it occurs to me that I don’t think I ever told you exactly what movies I plan to watch.  As the list states, they are AFI’s top 10 movies of all time which, in order, are: Citizen Kane, The Godfather, Casablanca, Raging Bull, Singin’ in the Rain, Gone with the Wind, Lawrence of Arabia, Schindler’s List, Vertigo, and The Wizard of Oz.  Of these great movies, I have only previously seen The Godfather, Schindler’s List, and The Wizard of Oz.

That leaves seven of the most time-honored films of all time which combine to make up #14 on my list.  Now, back to my excuses.  If you’ve ever seen any of these epics, you know that in many cases, you need to set aside several hours to get through one film.  If you have kids, you also know that several hours is something I just don’t have.  And when the kids finally close their little eyes and drift off to sleep, Jen and I find ourselves counting the minutes before we feel it’s officially not too early to go to bed.

Obviously something had to give here so on Saturday night, after the kids went to bed, we took a double shot of espresso, chose the shortest of the seven films, and pressed play.  Here now, is my review of #3 on the all time greatest movies list, Casablanca.

#3 on AFI's List

CASABLANCA IS WINNING!

(Seriously, how long do you think we’ll be able to ride this Charlie Sheen train before it goes off the tracks?)

From the opening scene, where we see the route that refugees took as they fled Europe to northern Africa overlaid by clips of soldiers and tanks in battle, you can sense the innovative cinematography of the time.  In today’s world of Avatar and Disney/Pixar “animated films”, it can be difficult to watch a movie from over 50 years ago and respect the quality of the filmmaking.  If you can do it though, it makes a movie like Casablanca a clear choice for a top 10 list.

From the moment the audience is introduced to Rick Blaine, played by Humphrey Bogart, it is clear why Bogey is considered one of the great actors of all time.  He owns every scene, every room that he enters, as if no one else is even half the man that he is.  We meet Rick for the first time as he sits alone at a table in his own club.  Throughout this first scene, he makes his way around the room like a king surrounded by his peasants.  His “mans-man” persona is only heightened when he refuses to help an acquaintance who is running from the police and brazenly says, “I stick my neck out for nobody!”

"I've got tiger blood running through these veins, baby!"

What makes Bogart’s acting so engaging in this film however, is the way he goes from seemingly invincible, to a shell of a man the moment he sets his eyes on Ilsa, played by Ingrid Bergman.  If Director Michael Curtiz had chosen not to provide the audience with the background story of Rick and Ilsa’s past romance, you still would have been able to infer it by simply watching the way Bogart and Bergman look at each other in this “first” meeting.  If you’re a fan of great acting, you must love this movie.

Having never seen this movie before, I assumed going into it that I would be seeing a classic love story.  While this is true, there is also a strong storyline here full of espionage and intrigue mixed with just enough humor to keep you guessing.  The scenes between Rick and Police Captain Renault are priceless and the storyline of Rick’s dilemma between being with his former love and keeping her safe is riveting. 

"You're gonna regret it...maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life."

If you are a fan of lists, as I am, you will love the fact that this film contains at least a half-dozen of the most classic movie lines ever spoken.  In fact, Casablanca contains 6 of the top 100 movie quotes of all time, according to AFI’s list.  The best part is, if you care more for the quotes and less for the movie, the last 5 minutes of this film contains some of the best.  From, “Here’s looking at you, kid.” to “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”, the final scenes of this film are absolutely classic.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and it was a great start to crossing off one of my list items.  The only problem is, the wife and I had to essentially drug ourselves to stay awake long enough to watch this film, which was only a little over an hour and a half.  What are we going to do in order to make it through an epic like Lawrence of Arabia, which clocks in at just under 220 minutes?  Time to bust out the caffeine injections!

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