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Play it again, Sam. And again, and again, and again. (Yes, I know this is a misquote from the movie, but it just sounds so much better than, “Play it once, Sam, for old times’ sake”, doesn’t it?) In the realm of classic Hollywood films, they don’t get any classic-ier than Michael Curtiz’s 1942 “Casablanca”, a film that features more quotable lines than any film I’ve ever seen. Even those who have never watched the movie probably knows a line or two from it, even if they don’t quite get the context of those quotes. In honor of the film’s 70th anniversary, Warner Home Video has released a new limited and numbered gift set edition of the classic film that you will be able to play on your Blu-ray again. And again. And again… (Saw this one coming, huh?)
Casablanca: easy to enter, but much harder to leave, especially if you’re wanted by the Nazis. Such a man is Resistance leader Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), whose only hope is Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), a cynical American who sticks his neck out for no one – especially Victor’s wife Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), the ex-lover who broke his heart. Ilsa offers herself in exchange for Laszlo’s transport out of the country and bitter Rick must decide what counts more – personal happiness or countless lives hanging in the balance. Winner of three Academy Awards including Best Picture, Casablanca marks its 70th anniversary as a beloved favorite with so many bonuses that no matter how often you’ve seen it, this beautiful 70th Anniversary (Limited and Numbered) Edition looks like yet another beginning of a beautiful friendship with an unforgettable classic.
Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, Warner Bros. had to go and up the ante with a gorgeous gift box set to one of the most romantic movies of all time. Sure, it’s got thrills, chases, intrigue, and heck, even war, but “Casablanca” will always be remembered for its romance between Ilsa and her old flame Rick, and the passions that re-ignite when they come back together after a Paris love affair to remember. And oh yeah, some stuff about war and Nazis, too.
If you don’t already know the plot of “Casablanca” by now, I really don’t know what you’ve been doing with yourself. I mean, the movie has only been around for 70 years, after all, and I have yet to meet anyone with a bad word to say about it. But just in case you’re one of those kids who have never seen movies older than 20 years in your life (you probably also think “The Matrix” was the first ever movie to feature wire-fu, too), here’s what all the hubbub is about:
Set in the neutral African city of Casablanca during the early days of World War II, the film stars the suave Humphrey Bogart (or Bogey as he likes to be called by his dear friends) as Rick, an American expatriate who runs a nightclub that caters to all manner of clientele, some more unsavory than others. Rick’s uncomplicated, unbothered life is going swimmingly, until ex-flame Ilsa (the absolutely gorgeous Ingrid Bergman) shows up in his bar one night, hoping to secure safe passage for her resistance fighter husband (Paul Henreid) to the States. As it just so happens, Rick is in possession of “papers” that could make that happen. But will he? Complications, as they say, ensue.
Yes, it’s romantic. And yes, it’s got plenty of thrilling sequences. And the dialogue is out-of-this-world good. For a film that was made without anyone involved in the production expecting it to do anything in terms of having a lasting impact (it was even rushed into theaters to take advantage of real-world events involving the ongoing war, apparently), it’s remarkable how well “Casablanca” holds up 70 years later. Mind you, not that the film will change the way you look at life, but the acting, writing, and directing (plus all those quotable lines) make it a great watch, rather in a fancy schmancy limited edition box set or on plain ol TV. Watch it for the quotes, for the romance, and stay for the intrigue. Or in any order you like, but just watch it.
The limited edition box set comes with three discs — two Blu-ray discs stuffed with special features (including the 4k scan remastered movie, which looks amazing, complimented with great sound — not bad for a black and white 70-year old film), and a standard DVD disc containing the movie. Special features include full-length audio commentary tracks by the ever-busy Roger Ebert and film historian Rudy Behlmer, both of whom are well-versed in film history as well as “Casablanca’s” lasting impact. There is also the curious addition of an introduction by Lauren Bacall (who was married to the film’s star, Humphrey Bogart, FYI).
In terms of documentaries (because, let’s face it, you knew this edition was going to be stuffed with them; re-release of classics always are), you get three feature-length docs (two from 2008 and one from 1993) that were available in previous releases of the film, as well as two new ones included with just this release: “Michael Curtiz: The Greatest Director You Never Heard Of”, which finally gives the long-overlooked director his due, and “Casablanca: An Unlikely Classic” (both run about 30 minutes apiece). Freebies include a reproduction of a French poster to hang up on your wall, plus a 60-page book featuring production notes and behind-the-scenes photos from the movie. And for you drinkers out there, there are four colorful coasters. But if your drinking habits are anything like mine, you might want to keep those coasters inside the box where they’ll be safe … and dry.
- Additional Bonus Contents Include:
- Now Voyager Theatrical Trailer-Warner Night at the Movies
- Newsreel-Warner Night at the Movies
- Vaudeville Days – Warner Night at the Movies
- The Bird Came C.O.D.-Warner Night at the Movies
- The Squawkin’ Hawk -Warner Night at the Movies
- The Dover Boys at Pimento University or The Rivals of Roquefort Hall
- Great Performances: Bacall on Bogart
- You Must Remember This: A Tribute to Casablanca
- As Time Goes By: The Children Remember
- Deleted Scenes
- Who Holds Tomorrow?
- Carrotblanca – Vintage Cartoon
- Scoring Stage Sessions
- 4/26/43 Lady Esther Screen Guild Theater Radio Broadcast
- 11/19/47 Vox Pop Radio Broadcast