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you must remember this

as part of an extremely mellow (read: post-night out) saturday, i ended up watching the movie casablanca for the first time in years.

as classic movies go, it's a pretty peculiar piece. we've all seen "classic" movies that have aged less than gracefully (go watch ben hur). and we've all seen movies that originated cliches that have stuck in the public psyche well beyond the scope of the original audience (that mad shout of "it's alive!" from frankenstein, for example). but it's hard to find another movie where so much of the script has been etched into popular memory.

part of that is because the script is just so repetitive. you know the line "here's looking at you kid" is one you're supposed to remember, because it crops up about every ten minutes. alternately, there's a line like "we'll always have paris" which is so contrived that i can't believe audiences in the forties didn't find it just as corny as it sounds today.

in retrospect, the studio's expectation that the film would be a box office disaster seems entirely reasonable.

and yet, somehow, the film maintains a lovable quality that's hard to resist. yes, looking back, humphrey bogart, like many icons of the time, is pretty one dimensional. and ingrid bergman is luminous, but her character, when you get down to it, really isn't that interesting. if the film rested on their shoulders, it probably wouldn't have been exceptional.

what is exceptional is the cast of background characters. sidney greenstreet and peter lorre, fresh from working with bogart on the maltese falcon, put in entertaining appearances. paul heinreid, in the uncomfortable role of the third corner of the love triangle, actually makes what could be a wimpy, insipid caricature of political virtue seem like the kind of guy you would leave the love of your life to help. conrad veidt, most famous now as the sinister somnambulist cesare in the cabinet of doctor caligari, was a particularly amusing choice for the nazi arch-villain major strasser. a staunch anti-nazi who had been known to claim to be a jew on government surveys (he was not), he had fled his home country after being blacklisted by hitler's government. (another interesting nugget: veidt's disfigured face in the silent horror classic the man who laughs was the inspiration for the illustrations of the joker in batman, making him party to another cultural cliche.)

of course, claude raines as the delectably unpredictable renault pretty much steals the whole film from under the noses of its stars. no matter what happens, it tends to be the guy that makes you laugh that you remember the best. (and of course, he is the agent of that quirky, neither happy nor tragic ending that helps lift the movie above garden variety melodrama.)

movies from the forties, suffused as they often were in the politics and morals of the day (more so, for instance, than a lot of films from the twenties), seem pretty creaky in retrospect, but the ones that stand out tend to be the ones where someone had the good sense to pay attention to the details rather than just the foreground.

Comments

I still love that movie, despite, I'd even say because, of its flaws. We must remember that for one thing, it could have been worse: Ronald Reagan was supposed to play the Bogart part (it was written for him.) It was also a "major" film, not an author play; we're not talking Becket here. Its entertainment, but without product placement. I would stack it up against any of its modern equivalent any day and there would be no comparison.
And come on, its Bogey!

as long as you're here, why not read more?

jihadvertising?

i keep seeing this ad for tictac candies:



am i the only one who finds the suicide bomber clown at the end a little unnerving? all the nice natural things like the bunny and the [extinct] woolly mammoth and the fruit get devoured by a trying-to-appear-nonthreatening-but-obviously-psychotic clown who then blows himself up. congratulations, tictac, i think this ad has landed you on about a dozen watch lists.

oh and by the way, showing me that your product will somehow cause my stomach to explode in a rainbow of wtf makes me believe that doing consuming tictacs would be a worse dietary decision than the time i ate two raw eggs and a half a bottle of hot sauce on a dare.

making faces :: hot stuff, comin' through

i don't even know what to say about the weather. the end of september saw temperatures at a scalding 36c/ 97f outside. this is especially annoying because we've had a moderate summer. most days it rained a little in the morning, the temperatures didn't creep into the 30s too often and there wasn't the normal stretch of a few weeks when it felt like we were living on the sun. now, we've receded into more normal fall weather, although it's still on the warm side for mid-october. that climate change thing is a bitch.

trying to think of something positive in the situation, it does put me in a perfect frame of mind to write about urban decay's naked heat palette. it's the latest in what appears to be an endless series of warm neutral and red eyeshadow palettes that have followed in the footsteps of anastasia's modern renaissance. [which i ultimately decided i didn't need after doing a thorough search of my considerable stash.] i do think that it'…

i agree, smedley [or, smokers totally saved our planet in 1983]

so this conversation happened [via text, so i have evidence and possibly so does the canadian government and the nsa].

dom and i were trying to settle our mutual nerves about tomorrow night's conversion screening, remembering that we've made a fine little film that people should see. which is just about exactly what dom had said when i responded thusly:

me :: i agree smedley. [pauses for a moment] did you get that here?

dom :: no?

me :: the aliens who were looking at earth and then decided it wasn't worth bothering with because people smoked even though it was bad for them?
come to think of it, that might mean that smokers prevented an alien invasion in the seventies.

dom :: what ?!?!?

me :: i've had wine and very little food. [pause] but the alien thing was real. [pause.] well, real on tv.

dom :: please eat something.

of course, i was wrong. the ad in question ran in 1983. this is the part where i would triumphantly embed the ad from youtube, except that the governmen…