What London Watches: Casablanca (U)


9 April 2017
Cinema 2
A timeless, romantic piece of film noir – 75 years on, Casablanca is still one of the world’s favourite films.

Humphrey Bogart is Rick, the cynical and heartsick American expat holed up in his bar in Casablanca. Ingrid Bergman is Ilsa, the ex-lover he’s still pining for, unexpectedly walking back into his life. And Paul Henreid is her husband, a Czech Resistance fighter, who she previously thought was dead.

Set amid the backdrop of WWII – and a time when the future was uncertain – it’s a film full of hard-boiled resolve, bittersweet romance, and endlessly quotable lines. Play it again.

US 1942 Dir Michael Curtiz 102 min

Why this film shook my world

"1942: London was being blitzed. Distraction came via a weekly visit to the cinema. It took us into a world of fantasy. Casablanca was on at the local Odeon. As the famous words 'Play it again’ were about to be spoken, the air-raid sirens sounded. On the screen appeared the words raid in progress. Leave cinema immediately.

The war moved on. It was 1944. Casablanca was showing at the Odeon Marble Arch. We decided to try again, and just as the words were about to be uttered, enormous explosions shattered the quiet. The air raid sirens sounded 'Leave the cinema immediately' flashed on the screen. Everyone rushed for the safety of the tube station. The night was illuminated by dozens of rockets being fired from guns stationed in Hyde Park.

1950: the war was over and we were seated in front of a tiny TV my father had purchased. Casablanca was on. A moment before we would hear those famous words a sense of foreboding overcame me and the hairs on my neck began to stand up. I felt sure Russians bombers were about to take over from the Germans. But there were no bombs, and I finally heard Sam being asked to play it again.
Another saying came to mind 'If at first you don't succeed…"

Geoffrey, London

Programme supported by Film Hub London, managed by Film London. Proud to be a partner of the BFI Film Audience Network, funded by the National Lottery. www.filmlondon.org.uk/filmhub

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