List Item Achieved! #90: Here’s Lookin’ At You, Kid

It seems to me that a lot of things are easier these days. For example, I think it’s much easier to be a police detective now than, say, back in the 1960s-90s, when my uncle/godfather worked in Spanish Harlem. There are databases for everything from fingerprints to photos to DNA, and every block in the nation seems to have 189 big-brotherish “security cams” to capture each move a perp (cop word) makes.

So it goes with filmmaking. If you can’t create an actual scene these days, hell, just use a computer to seamlessly integrate your actors with out-of-this-world special effects. Back when Casablanca was filmed, in the early 1940s, if you wanted to create a realistic bullet hole in someone, you pretty much had to shoot them while the cameras rolled.

That’s why many people say the classics “don’t hold up well,” to which I say, “No, it’s imagination that doesn’t hold up very well.” And it’s also why I put on my list of 100 Intentions for 2022 “Watch a classic film from the 1940s, 1950s or 1960s.

I chose Casablanca for a few reasons.

  1. I’d never seen it before.
  2. Despite never seeing it before, I still knew it captured some of Hollywood’s all-time classic lines.
  3. It’s February, the month of love, and just about every list on the most romantic movies of all time lists Casablanca somewhere near the top.
  4. I was trying to kill two birds with one stone (a hideous phrase, if you’re a bird) by screening Casablanca for my monthly movie night list item.

Alas, no one showed for the movie night (screw you, local people), so it was just Wifey Poo and I watching Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman deal with the Nazis and their broken hearts.

I had no clue what the plot of the film was even remotely about when I started watching it. Cool that it, yes, involved Nazis. But this isn’t so much a love story/romantic movie as it is one in which a dude’s heart is stepped all over by a woman who makes questionable decisions.

That said, I liked it. It was cool to put “Here’s lookin’ at you, kid,” “Play it again, Sam,” and “Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship” into context. There are some cringe-worthy moments, such as when a character calls Sam the piano player, a Black man in his, oh, I’d say 50s, “boy” and when Bergman’s Ilsa plays the “thinking is hard for women” card and asks Humphrey to do that tough brain stuff for the both of them.

But hey, it was the 1940s, so I guess we’re supposed to look back at our less enlightened ancestors and say, “Well they didn’t know any better.”

The movie builds to an exciting climax. and I, for one, greatly appreciate the time when making a movie didn’t rely CGI’d special effects.


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