Tuesday, December 26, 2006

1944 Going My Way

Stars: Bing Crosby

It seems like one should just naturally like this movie. Bing Crosby in a gentle fatherly role - surely this means that I should just love it. But I didn't. I was bored. It was trite and predictable and overall hum-drum.

Sure, the choir sang well - so they should - but unbelievably well for street kids. Don't get me wrong, I love a good musical, but this was neither musical or dramatic story. It was such a little of both that it did neither genre well. The "good" people were saccharine sweet, and the "bad" people, really weren't that bad.

The supporting cast was adequate, but so glossed over was the story, that I felt no connection with any character. One reviewer on IMDB described it as being "heart-warming without being over-sappy". Did we see the same movie? Or does this say more about my state of mind that this film did not cheer my heart?

Monday, December 25, 2006

1943 Casablanca

Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid and Claude Rains

Now here is a movie that has it all. Drama, intrigue and romance, with a back story that engages and an ending that leaves people guessing. By the time that Bogart accepted this role, he star had risen and realistically he could no no wrong. The iconic "The Maltese Falcon" two years earlier, had established him as a star. His laconic demeanour and lisp, gave audiences a man that maybe the bad guy - but with a heart of gold. He certainly hasn't the Hollywood looks, or even a charming tone of voice, but somehow, he drew us in. For men, maybe it is the ruggedness of his features, that made him seem real and they could relate. For women, his understated gentleness concealed under a gruff exterior, made him desirable.

Ingrid and Humphrey - although I suppose an unlikely couple - their desire for each other in these roles, seemed to burn up the screen. For time immemorial people will wonder what attracted Ilsa to the dispassionate Victor, who seemed to show her none of the obvious love that Rick had for her. The movie is full of great supporting characters, who could have been seen as a little ridiculous, had it not been for such strong leads. The quirkiness of the supporting cast seems, to me, to add a certain levity, and reality, to the seriousness of the time and place.

There would be few who could say that they dislike this film. I know I like it a lot - probably because it is so many stories in one. I like a war story, and a romance, and a bit of drama, and some witty lines and interesting characters. And this film has it all. Because of this, I think it will always be a classic, since it appeals to so many parts of human nature.

Lines are oft-quoted, incorrectly, from Casablanca, and others are such a part of modern parlance - it is hard to sometimes reconcile that there was a time that Rick hadn't said, "Here's looking at you kid."