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CASABLANCA – A FILM IS JUST A FILM

Casablanca, one of the great romance films of all time, is now available on DVD and occasionally plays on Foxtel;
ANDREW L. URBAN tries to fathom out why it has such eternal appeal.

"You must remember this, a kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh, the world will always welcome lovers, as time goes by …" These lines are etched into every romantic film lover’s heart and soul, if they are old enough to have seen Casablanca. While you can never analyse what really makes the heart pound faster, we set out to explore why Casablanca is so special.

"Rick's Bar is an armchair traveller's fantasy."

Award winning film critic Sandra Hall believes that "cinema itself has become very attractive to younger audiences and they are rediscovering some of its older treasures. Humphrey Bogart is particularly attractive to young men, I think, because he's so cool. He always seems in command - and unlike some big male stars like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, he is interested in women."

As Hall points out, the film has certain crucial elements: "It is about romance, and coincidence. Every good story is allowed one great coincidence, and this one has it. On top of that, they're mature lovers, they've been around. The setting, amidst intrigue and danger is exciting - and it's a manageable version of the exotic East; Rick's Bar is an armchair traveller's fantasy."

But why it has become a classic is much harder to analyse. Could it be the timing, as Hall suggests, casting Bogart at his peak opposite Bergman at hers, with their totally different, almost contrasting personalities creating movie magic.

"Loyalty, courage and of course love, are never out of date, as that song Sam plays so aptly reminds us."

Bank teller Denise Stacey knows of the film as "one of the classics; it's a classic love story, so it probably appeals to women." She will see it, out of curiosity, even though she half remembers it.

Administrative workers David Hely and Louise Dique, both 24, vaguely recall having seen it is young children. They do not recall very much about the film, although David has a memory of the final scene; they are both aware of its legendary status as a classic, they both know that "Play it again, Sam" is the eternally (mis)quoted line from the film.

It is a film that has no immediately obvious appeal to the youth of today - or any day. Its central characters are in the their mid to late thirties, the setting is the middle of the last world war, its stars are dead; and its values are of another age. Or are they? Loyalty, courage and of course love, are never out of date, as that song Sam plays so aptly reminds us.

And it has lines like these:
Rick (Bogart): And remember, this gun is pointed right at your heart.
Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains): That is my least vulnerable spot.

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Casablanca
In World War II Casablanca, Rick Blaine, exiled American and former freedom fighter, runs the most popular nightspot in town. The cynical lone wolf Blaine comes into the possession of two valuable letters of transit. When Nazi Major Strasser arrives in Casablanca, the sycophantic police Captain Renault does what he can to please him, including detaining Czech underground leader Victor Laszlo. Much to Rick's surprise, Lazslo arrives with Ilsa, Rick's one time love. Rick is bitter towards Ilsa, who ran out on him in Paris, but when he learns she had good reason to, they plan to run off together again using the letters of transit. Well, that was their original plan....
- Gary Jackson

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AS TIME GOES BY ...
Lyrics and Music by Herman Hupfeld;
© 1931 Warner Bros. Music Corp., ASCAP

This day and age we're living in
Gives cause for apprehension
With speed and new invention
And things like fourth dimension

Yet we get a trifle weary
With Mr. Einstein's theory
So we must get down to earth at times
Relax relieve the tension

And no matter what the progress
Or what may yet be proved
The simple facts of life are such
They cannot be removed

You must remember this
A kiss is still a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by

And when two lovers woo
They still say, "I love you"
On that you can rely
No matter what the future brings
As time goes by

Moonlight and love songs
Never out of date
Hearts full of passion
Jealousy and hate
Woman needs man
And man must have his mate
That no one can deny

Well, it's still the same old story
A fight for love and glory
A case of do or die

The world will always welcome lovers
As time goes by
Oh yes, the world will always welcome lovers
As time goes by

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