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Casablanca (1942)

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Article 1

Film of Intrigue and Adventure

The Times (London), January 13, 1943 page 6

Casablanca in the days before the allied occupation had obvious possibilities as the background of a film of intrigue and adventure, and the film which goes into the Regal and Warner cinemas next Friday has taken at least a reasonable percentage of its opportunities.

The place is given an elaborate setting. Money is plentiful, time is meaningless, life is cheap. French, German, Italian, American and native rub uneasy shoulders and no man is to be trusted. Meanwhile the café lights are brilliant, negroes strum at the pianos, and the camera, lingering over the decorative and the exotic, seems to be waiting for Miss Marlene Dietrich. Actually Miss Ingrid Bergman, a very different type, is the heroine of a story which seeks-- at times successfully-- to avoid the commonplace by the laconic manner of its expression. She is the wife of one of the leaders of the underground movement against the Nazis, but she has the misfortune to be in love with Mr. Humphrey Bogart, who, as the owner of a night club, gives his usual deliberately flat performance of the sentimentalist masquerading as the cynic.

The incidentals of the film, however, are to be preferred to the main issue of visas, arrests, and escapes. Mr. Claude Rains, self-described as "a poor, corrupt official," slightly overplays his hand as a French chief of police, but Mr. Peter Lorre disappears all too soon from his scene, Mr. Sydney Greenstreet, fat, jovial, and utterly unscrupulous, has too small a part, Mr. Dooley Wilson's performance as a negro pianist is memorable, and at moments Casablanca seem genuinely to be trying to give expression to the emotions of those colonial French who were left bewildered by the fall of their country but did not lose their faith.

© 1943 The Times

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