Round up the usual suspects and head to the movies this afternoon for a rare opportunity to see "Casablanca" on the silver screen.
In celebration of the movie's 75th anniversary this month, Fathom Events is bringing the often-quoted film back into theaters so fans can experience it the way it should be viewed: on the big screen. Two generations of movie fans — baby boomers and millennials — have grown up without that opportunity. "Casablanca" will be showing locally at the East Ridge 18 and Hamilton Place 8 today and Wednesday.
The film, which ranked No. 3 on the American Film Institute's list of greatest films, was released in November 1942 during the height of World War II. It's a timeless romance in which American expatriate Rick Blaine (played by Humphrey Bogart) is unexpectedly reunited with his ex-lover, Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman), who walks into his cafe one night with her husband (Paul Henreid). Bogart's character must choose between his love for this woman or helping the couple escape from the Vichy-controlled city of Casablanca to continue their fight against the Nazis.
The film won three Academy Awards — Outstanding Motion Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay— for its cinematic triumvirate: strong lead actors, quotable lines and an unbeatable theme song that, 75 years later, fans still want Rick's sidekick and pianist Sam, to play again.
"It's ageless, a timeless story," says Rex Knowles of "Casablanca's" longevity. Knowles is executive director of the Professional Actor Training Program at Chattanooga State Community College.
“Casablanca” will be shown at East Ridge 18, 5080 South Terrace, and Hamilton Place 8, 2000 Hamilton Place Blvd. Calls to each theater verified the following showtimes:
Today, Nov. 12
* East Ridge 18: 2 p.m.
* Hamilton Place 8: 2 and 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 15
* East Ridge 18: 7 p.m.
* Hamilton Place 8: 2 and 7 p.m.
Six unforgettable lines from “Casablanca” made it onto the American Film Institute’s “100 Years … 100 Movie Quotes” list. Three writers are credited with the Oscar-winning screenplay: twin brothers Julius J. and Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch. It was adapted from an unpublished play, “Everybody Comes Back to Rick’s,” written by Murray Bennett and Joan Alison.
› No. 5: “Here’s looking at you, kid.”
› No. 20: “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
› No. 28: “Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By.’”
› No. 32: “Round up the usual suspects.”
› Nov. 43: “We’ll always have Paris.”
› No. 67: “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”
"I think about movies made in the 1970s and '80s, and you look at them and think 'That was made in the '70s.' But this is timeless in that regard," says Knowles.
The role of Rick Blaine was Bogart's first romantic lead, and it made him a box-office idol. The chemistry between Bogart and Bergman was so palpable that the late film critic Roger Ebert described it as Bergman "painting his face with her eyes."
"In most of his movies, Bogart is introduced as the tough guy and the audience is expected to believe it beginning to end," says Ryne Williams, a 29-year-0ld movie buff and customer service associate with T-Mobile.
"In this movie, they go deeper — he plays the tough guy, but you see why he's been made the way he is in the flashback to Paris. We see how the world's changed, how he's lost Ilsa to her husband. And he sells it no matter what."
Knowles credits Bogart's "very unique voice" with helping develop his distinct movie persona.
"He's very honest when he acts. It's a good characteristic to have onstage and on film," Knowles points out.
"I'm a Bogart fan all the way around," says East Brainerd resident Barbara Bryan Howard. Howard is somewhat of a late-comer to the "Casablanca" fan club, having not seen the movie until she was middle-aged.
"Why is Bogart so iconic? It's certainly not his impressive height nor handsome looks since he possesses neither of those. But whether he is playing the hero or the 'bad guy,' he exudes a confidence that dominates every scene he's in. He always seems so cool, calm and in control no matter what the situation."
Patsy Holland, a retired Ooltewah resident, says she's watched "Casablanca" many times, but always on television.
"It doesn't get any better than 'Casablanca.' I'm a history major, so I like the World War II era. My favorite scene is when Ilsa arrives at the cafe and asks Sam to play ("As Time Goes By") again. They just don't make movies like that anymore — good movies that have a wonderful story to them, that you can watch over and over and they never get old."
That is exactly why Williams believes "Casablanca" has stood the test of time. The movie's universal theme and its lack of cultural references (other than the WWII setting) don't date it.
"I think the over-arcing story of giving up something/someone you love for the greater good is the ultimate American story. That's what wins people over," he says. "But the reason I love it is that it's a movie that keeps on giving. I find something new in it every single time I watch it. I feel like it matures with you."
Contact Susan Pierce at email@example.com or 423-757-6284.