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Remembering Casablanca 70 Years Later

First released in 1942, Turner Classic Movies is celebrating Casablanca’s 70th Anniversary with nationwide screenings on March 21.

As my husband once said to me, “Everyone loves Casablanca.  Unless they don’t have a soul.” I believe no truer words have been spoken about this timeless epic. The American Film Institute chose it as the 3rd best American film of all time. It’s ranked 15th on IMDB’s user favorites list. The British Film Institute once declared that it was the best film ever made. One might wonder: what is it about this film that causes it to remain such a beloved classic?

Here’s three reasons why I think Casablanca’s legacy endures 7 decades later.

1.  Every line is timeless.
As a Dramatic Writing student at New York University, I read the script of Casablanca before I saw the movie itself.  When I finished reading, I’d felt this endless sense of déjà vu. Think about it.
The reason that Casablanca might seem cliché to some people is because the film created those clichés.

Check out some of these classic examples below:

“Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By.”

“Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.”

“It doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a  hill of beans in this crazy world.”

“Luis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

2.  Bogart was the man.
In an age where Hollywood rarely feels like it creates new ideas, Casablanca actually belongs to a time in which new archetypes were being discovered.   Humphrey Bogart’s Rick was sarcastic, witty, tough, and moral. He was the original bad boy with the heart of gold. Many people might attribute that title to James Dean, but Bogart first gave the archetype its appeal. Most male heroes now have a flash of that classic Rick style.

3.  It’s a classic everything.
Casablanca is a love story between Rick and Ilsa, a WWII themed film , a comedy with endless biting and intelligent lines, a drama about one man’s conflict between his own selfish wants and the greater good, a buddy film that understands what can create a great friendship. There’s no wonder why Casablanca is such a favorite. There’s something in this film for everyone.

The TCM event will be kicked off by TCM host Robert Osborne presenting an original showcase, which will feature stories behind the scenes of from people that were on the set and people that simply love the film.  Many screenings have already sold out, so be quick to check locations nearest you to see if tickets are still available.