Classic Movie Review: 'Casablanca' We all have movies that we missed. Movies that our friends make fun of us for not knowing. Sam Sanders had never seen Casablanca.
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Classic Movie Review: 'Casablanca'

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Classic Movie Review: 'Casablanca'

Review

Movie Reviews

Classic Movie Review: 'Casablanca'

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(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CASABLANCA")

HUMPHREY BOGART: (As Rick Blaine) Here's looking at you, kid.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GONE WITH THE WIND")

CLARK GABLE: (As Rhett Butler) Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ON THE WATERFRONT")

MARLON BRANDO: (As Terry Malloy) I could've been a contender.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ALL ABOUT EVE")

BETTE DAVIS: (As Margo) Fasten your seat belts.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JERRY MAGUIRE")

CUBA GOODING JR: (As Rod Tidwell) Show me the money.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "TAXI DRIVER")

ROBERT DE NIRO: (As Travis Bickle) You talking to me?

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WHEN HARRY MET SALLY")

ESTELLE REINER: (As Older Woman Customer) I'll have what she's having.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE COLOR PURPLE")

OPRAH WINFREY: (As Sofia) I ain't never thought I'd have to fight in my own house.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE LION KING")

JEREMY IRONS: (As Scar) Long live the king.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE SHINING")

JACK NICHOLSON: (As Jack Torrance) Here's Johnny.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "STAR WARS: EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK")

DAVID PROWSE: (As Darth Vader) I am your father.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE WIZARD OF OZ")

MARGARET HAMILTON: (As The Wicked Witch of the West) I'll get you, my pretty.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS")

ANDY SERKIS: (As Gollum) Precious.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE DARK KNIGHT")

HEATH LEDGER: (As Joker) Why so serious?

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY")

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER: (As The Terminator) Hasta la vista, baby.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE GODFATHER")

RICHARD S CASTELLANO: (As Clemenza) Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Ah, you'd love the cannoli. They're classics in part because these stories - these storylines and characters seep into our lives even when we don't know it. But, sometimes, we haven't really seen all the classics that we quote. Sam Sanders, a Renaissance man, host of the NPR podcast It's Been A Minute, has finally caught up with one of the greatest films of all time. He's here to review it. Sam, you had never seen "Casablanca?"

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: I had never seen it.

SIMON: OK. We'll explain "Casablanca." It's the setting as well as the title. World-weary Rick - and, boy, is he weary - played by Humphrey Bogart, owns Rick's Cafe in Casablanca at the start of World War II. His former lover Ilsa, an utterly radiant Ingrid Bergman, walks back into his life. And Rick has to reconsider his cynicism. Sam, how did you miss this?

SANDERS: Well, I came around after its time. But, also, I have this weird thing - and I hate to even admit this. I usually don't find watching stuff in black and white visually stimulating.

SIMON: Ohh. Ohh.

SANDERS: I know. I know. I'm going to get tweets and letters.

SIMON: It's timeless. It's timeless that way.

SANDERS: Well, OK. But this week, for you, Scott, I watched it. I watched the movie.

SIMON: And first impressions?

SANDERS: I actually liked it.

SIMON: Oh, good.

SANDERS: I actually liked it for a few reasons, the biggest reason being that I hadn't really realized that, through the lens of the culture, I had already seen this movie. There were so many lines where I was like, oh, that's where that comes from.

SIMON: Yup.

SANDERS: And so it was nice to see that I was able to talk along with some of the lines from Ingrid and Humphrey as they were happening, which was a weird because I'd never seen it.

SIMON: I believe she was gone by the time even I came along. But did you fall in love, at least a little bit, with Ingrid Bergman?

SANDERS: Firstly, I fell in love with Casablanca. The whole film...

SIMON: Yeah.

SANDERS: ...They were all like, why are we stuck here? And I'm like, it's Casablanca. You should be happy to be there. It's great. It's better than, like, Nazi-occupied France. But yes, Ingrid - amazing.

SIMON: Yeah.

SANDERS: What I noticed, though - it took, like, 25 minutes or so into the film for her to show up.

SIMON: I guess so, yeah.

SANDERS: And I kept being, like, whoa, where's the female lead? Where's Ingrid? I want to see Ingrid. And then she shows up, and you're like, oh, worth the wait.

SIMON: Yeah. Yeah. And, of course, I think, like, one of the greatest scenes of all time - hold on. I've got to pick up - I've got to pick up my phone.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

SIMON: Play "La Marseillaise." Play "La Marseillaise."

SANDERS: (Laughter) Yes.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CASABLANCA")

PAUL HENREID: (As Victor Laszlo) Play "La Marseillaise." Play it.

SIMON: Whose heart cannot be moved by that moment?

SANDERS: It was beautiful.

SIMON: When you have the girl of the streets singing, you know, (singing in French) and everybody joining in.

SANDERS: Ah, yeah.

SIMON: And the Nazis, you know, slamming down their crushable caps.

SANDERS: Yeah.

SIMON: It's amazing.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CASABLANCA")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (As characters, singing in French).

SANDERS: That whole scene for me spoke to a theme that I found present throughout, this idea that you can't always be neutral. You have to choose a side. You have to take a stand. And the whole movie, we're watching Humphrey Bogart's character decide what side he wants to be on.

SIMON: Yeah.

SANDERS: And I think in times like these today, where all stuff political seems so high stakes, a lot of folks are asking themselves the same kind of questions. Can I be neutral? Do I have to take a stand for something? And what does it mean to take a stand? And the film gets at that. And, also, it's a love story too, which I thought was great.

SIMON: Do you have a favorite line?

SANDERS: I mean, like, the usual ones - maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow - the start of a beautiful friendship - all of those. I just loved how those one-liners of note were rapid fire the entire movie.

SIMON: Yeah.

SANDERS: There was some really good writing in there.

SIMON: You know, and - well, it's interesting because I believe, in the histories that have been written about it, this was how a great film was not supposed to be made.

SANDERS: Really?

SIMON: It was written by committee. It kept getting drafted and redrafted.

SANDERS: Oh, really?

SIMON: Absolutely everything - and, you know, changed directors a couple of times.

SANDERS: Yeah.

SIMON: And despite everything you would think that would...

SANDERS: It's so quotable.

SIMON: Exactly, yeah.

SANDERS: Before I saw this movie, in my opinion, the most quotable film of all time was "Mean Girls." You've seen that one, haven't you (laughter)?

SIMON: I have not seen "Mean Girls."

SANDERS: Wait.

SIMON: Yeah, I have not seen "Mean Girls."

SANDERS: I've found one for you to watch, Scott.

SIMON: All right. OK. Fair enough.

SANDERS: It's a really quotable film.

SIMON: Did you, with respect to the artistry - because I'll watch it again when we're done here today...

SANDERS: (Laughter).

SIMON: Really - I mean, enlivened by your enthusiasm. Did you find anything a little dated?

SANDERS: I mean, I expected things to be more problematic than they were.

SIMON: I mean, Bogey never actually says, play it again, Sam.

SANDERS: Exactly.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CASABLANCA")

INGRID BERGMAN: (As Ilsa Lund) Play it once, Sam, for old times' sake.

DOOLEY WILSON: (As Sam) I don't know what you mean, Miss Ilsa.

BERGMAN: (As Ilsa Lund) Play it, Sam. Play "As Time Goes By."

SANDERS: And then, like, as soon as I saw a black guy at the piano playing songs for white people, I was like, oh, this might be a problem. But it really wasn't.

SIMON: Yeah, Dooley Wilson. That's a great role.

SANDERS: But, like, it wasn't a problem for me. They handled it pretty well. I expected the gender dynamics to be a little bit more out of whack. But Ingrid's character was definitely in control of her situation the entire film.

SIMON: Yeah.

SANDERS: So I was pleasantly surprised by how woke a movie this old tried to be.

SIMON: We've been asking listeners to take a look at a classic movie they've missed and tweet us their review in 140 characters or less. Sam Sanders - your review of Casablanca.

SANDERS: Not as problematic as I expected, love the one-liners, would rec.

SIMON: Sam Sanders is the host of NPR's It's Been A Minute podcast. Thanks so much for being with us.

SANDERS: Thank you. This was so much fun.

SIMON: Here's looking at you, kid.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

SIMON: They wouldn't let me say that until the end.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CASABLANCA")

WILSON: (As Sam, singing) You must remember this. A kiss is just a kiss. A sigh is just a sigh. The fundamental things apply as time goes by. And when two lovers woo, they still say I love you.

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