If you haven’t heard of Casablanca you’ve been living on another planet all your life. Starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman it is loved by many and is an enduring classic. It won the Best Picture Oscar in 1943 and was rated #2 on the American Film Institute’s 100 Years…100 Movies list (Citizen Kane was #1). It’s also just an excellent film to watch no matter what your mood is. It has adventure, romance, and style. The film also gave us some of the most memorable lines in movie history such as “Here’s looking at you, kid.” and “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” It also gave us one of the most misquoted lines with “Play it, Sam,” which is of course often quoted as “Play it again, Sam.”
Older movies are always hit and miss when transferred to high-definition. Thankfully Casablanca is a hit. Presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio (meaning it has bars on the left and right) the black and white image is crisp and vibrant and the blacks (and there is a lot of black) really pop. All signs of dust or scratches on the original print have been removed and it’s glorious to watch. Even when stretched to fill my widescreen TV it looks good (although I prefer to watch it as it was meant to be).
No special sound mix here. You get it in Dolby Digital 1.0 (mono) in English, French or Spanish. I didn’t find this took away from the experience though as the film is dialogue-heavy.
The downfall with the special features is that most are older and none are in HD. The disc is packed with them though and should please any film buff while educating those who might not know that much about the film.
Both the Roger Ebert audio commentary and the commentary by film historian Rudy Behlmer were addictive and I couldn’t turn them off. I’m not usually a fan of commentaries but these work and I found myself seeing things in the film I hadn’t before.
There’s a great feature-length documentary, Bacall on Bogart, in which Bogey’s wife and fellow actor Lauren Bacall (along with many other Hollywood names) discuss his life and career.
You Must Remember This: A Tribute to Casablanca is a decent (albeit condensed) 30-minute look at the film.
As Time Goes By: The Children Remember is a touching addition with Bogart’s son Stephen and Bergman’s daughter Pia Lindstrom speaking about their parents and how the film changed their lives.
The Looney Tunes homage Carrotblanca is also included along with the 1955 Who Holds Tomorrow TV adaptation of the movie.
There are some audio-only features including a radio production of the film with Bogart, Bergman and Paul Henreid (which would have been nice if you could download it to a computer or MP3 player). Plus some additional scenes, trailers and a research gallery from the production.
Casablanca has never looked so good. It’s a beautiful film and is well worth adding to your Blu-ray collection. Also available in an Ultimate Edition.
Film **** out of 5 stars
Blu-ray **** out of 5 stars