March 2, 2022 by Stacie Seifrit-Griffin
It almost seems hard to believe that it was 80 years ago in 1942 that “Casablanca” was first released, and the world fell in love with its tale of courage, sacrifice and redemption.
On March 2, 1944 at the 16th Academy Awards, “Casablanca” took home the Oscar for Best Picture, Best Director (Michael Curtiz) and Best Screenplay (Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch).
In total, the film was nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Actor in a Leading Role (Humphrey Bogart); Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Claude Rains); Best Cinematography, Black-and-White; Best Film Editing; and Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture.
As time goes by (I couldn’t resist), the film’s memorable lines still make “Casablanca” one of Hollywood’s most quoted and beloved films of all time.
“Casablanca” was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1989, one of the first 25 films added in the Registry’s inaugural year.
Today, we look back at “Casablanca” with a thought-provoking essay from Jay Carr given to the Library of Congress from “The A List: The National Society of Film Critics’ 100 Essential Films, 2002.” He touches on the film’s backstory, the cast, those famous lines, and why we still watch it every time it’s on.
Here’s looking at you, kid…
By Jay Carr
It’s still the same old story. Maybe more so. “Casablanca” was never a great film, never a profound film.
It’s merely the most beloved movie of all time. In its (now 80 year) history, it has resisted the transmogrification of its rich, reverberant icons into camp. It’s not about the demimondaines washing through Rick’s Café Americain – at the edge of the world, at the edge of hope – in 1941.
Ultimately, it’s not even about Bogey and Ingrid Bergman sacrificing love for nobility. It’s about the hold movies have on us. That’s what makes it so powerful, so enduring. It is film’s analogue to Noel Coward’s famous line about the amazing potency of cheap music. Like few films before or since, it sums up Hollywood’s genius for recasting archetypes in big, bold, universally accessible strokes, for turning myth into pop culture.