Classical Hollywood’s most highly cherished product, Casblanca perfectly exemplified the industry’s wartime fondness for conversion narratives. Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) is a fiercely independent, melancholy, cynical “saloon keeper” who finally realizes he can’t sit out the anti-Fascist fight during World War II. Warner Bros.’ best-remembered film embodies American ambivalence of the period about entering into “foreign entanglements” since these threatened the fundamental ideology of the exceptional American individualist’s freedom of action. Featuring a brilliant, witty script full of memorable one-liners by the Epstein brothers and Howard Koch, sure direction by studio craftsman Michael Curtiz, iconic performances from Bogart, the luminous Ingrid Bergman, the German-born Paul Henried as her husband, Conrad Veidt as the chief Nazi villain, Claude Rains as the corrupt Captain Renault, as well as support from an array of European refugees from Hitler’s regime (most notably Peter Lorre) and Vichy France, Casblanca is exhibit A for what Andre Bazin famously called “the genius of the [Hollywood] system,” and the industry’s triumphant integration of international talents into its films. 102 min.
Part of the Emory Cinematheque series “Resisting Fascism.” Each film in the series will be introduced by Paul Buchholz, assistant professor of German Studies, with contributions from other faculty in Emory’s Department of German Studies.