Michael Curtiz, 1942
For our final film of our final season, we return to our very first screening: Michael Curtiz's "Casablanca". The same reason we chose it for our first film is why we’re thrilled to have it as our closing film.
Set during World War II, it focuses on a man torn between, in the words of one character, love and virtue. He must choose between his love for a woman and helping her and her Czech Resistance leader husband escape from the Vichy-controlled Moroccan city of Casablanca to continue his fight against the Nazis.
Although it was an A-list film, with established stars and first-rate writers - Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch received credit for the screenplay - no one involved with its production expected Casablanca to be anything out of the ordinary; it was just one of dozens of pictures produced by Hollywood every year. The film was a solid, if unspectacular, success in its initial run, rushed into release to take advantage of the publicity from the Allied invasion of North Africa a few weeks earlier. Despite a changing assortment of screenwriters frantically adapting an unstaged play and barely keeping ahead of production, and Bogart attempting his first romantic lead role, Casablanca won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Its characters, dialogue, and music have become iconic, and Casablanca has grown in popularity to the point that it now consistently ranks near the top of lists of the greatest films of all time.