“Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
This closing line from “Casablanca” spoken by Humphrey Bogart stirred audiences when the film made its debut at the Hollywood Theater in New York City on November 26, 1942. The World War II saga of loves lost and found, friendships forged and betrayed, sacrifices caused and endured inspired a beautiful friendship between the film and the audiences that have loved it for seven decades.
Cynical, bitter American expatriate Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) operates Rick’s Cafe Americain, a nightclub and gambling establishment in Casablanca. Everybody goes to Rick’s in December 1941, including petty thieves, pick pockets, corrupt police officials, Nazi officers and refugees from all corners of the world. Among the refugees are Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) — Rick’s former lover — and her husband Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), a Czech Resistance leader and escapee from a Nazi concentration camp. The conflict involves two letters of transit stolen from murdered German couriers and entrusted to Rick by Signor Ugarte (Peter Lorre), the unresolved past relationship and reignited love between Rick and Ilsa and the fate of the free world should Victor Laszlo die in Casablanca at the command of either Vichy Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains) or German Major Strasser (Conrad Veidt).
On March 21, 2012, “Casablanca” hit the big screen again in nearly 500 theaters across the United States as a one-day-only showing in honor of the film’s 70th anniversary. Turner Classic Movies (www.TCM.com), Fathom Events (www.FathomEvents.com) and Warner Home Video (www.WarnerBros.com) sponsored the business anniversary event that featured the re-mastered film and a TCM-produced introduction by TCM host Robert Osborne. He discussed the status of “Casablanca” in Hollywood history — the movie earned Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay Academy Awards(R) — and shared behind-the-scenes stories about the film’s production.
This theatrical event was a prelude to Warner Home Video’s release of the film’s 70th Anniversary Edition. The three-disc, numbered, limited-edition gift set includes the re-mastered “Casablanca” on both Blu-ray and DVD plus more than 14 hours of bonus material. What a treasure trove for film aficionados!
To movie fans, I recommend: “Round up the usual suspects,” make some popcorn and enjoy the intrigue taking place in Rick’s Cafe Americain.
To “Casablanca,” I say: “Here’s looking at you, kid.” Happy 70th Anniversary!
Blogger Bio: Pauline Bartel, M.A., is President and Chief Creative Officer of
Bartel Communications, Inc., an award-winning corporate communications firm,
specializing in marketing, public relations and business anniversary consulting
services. The firm created “The Bartel Years™” and “The Bartel Years 200™,” rosters of business anniversary symbols to inspire two centuries of business anniversary
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