Monday, April 16, 2012

Here's Looking At You Kid

TigerBlog has a group of about, well, a lot of movies that he has seen so many times that he's essentially memorized them.

The first three Rocky movies. "A Few Good Men." "The Great Escape." Shawshank. "Animal House." "Stripes." And of course the first two Godfathers and "Goodfellas."

The one movie you don't want to watch with TB, though, is "Casablanca." For whatever reason, TB cannot help but recite that movie as it goes along, as opposed to the others, during which he can usually keep it to himself.

What is it about "Casablanca?"

It is, for TB's money, a movie with no flaws, an absolutely perfect blend of plot and character development with enough dramatic turns that reaches its concluding scene at a time when the viewer (first-time, anyway) has no idea how it's going to end.

Its script and acting are just as perfect.

No line is gratuitous; no character is unnecessary. Nothing in the movie is wasted, and it grabs you from the time the narrator sets the stage with the frustration of the city's population up until Humphrey Bogart utters as great a final line as has ever been uttered.

Bogart - Rick - is the movie hero, and yet he is such an unbelievably flawed person that it's hard for the viewer to figure out what he'll do from one situation to the next. The same is true of Captain Renault (Claude Rains).

Beyond Bogart and Rains, the cast features all-time greats like Ingrid Bergman, Paul Heinreid, Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet. And of course, there's "As Time Goes By," sung by Dooley Wilson.

"Casablanca" is a war movie, essentially, though there are no battle scenes or army headquarters and only a handful of soldiers. It's more about what World War II did to the average citizen, how displaced those people became, how some had the courage to stand up and fight in anyway they could, how others just gave up and how still others - such as Rick Blaine - were forced to take sides.

And keep in mind that this was shot in 1942, when the outcome of World War II wasn't yet decided. And real life intruded - the amiable man who played Carl from Rick's Cafe - had three sisters who died in concentration camps. 

It could be the best movie TB has ever seen. And as for the quotes? There are six in the AFI Top 100 movie quotes of all-time, more than any other movie. But really, any line in the movie is a classic.

It was on Turner Classic Movies the other night, and TB couldn't turn away.

TCM is one of TB's favorite networks - maybe his favorite - because he's either going to see one of his all-time favorite movies or a movie he's never heard of before but has a pretty good chance of liking, such as the one a week ago that had Edward G. Robinson as the gangster who gets out of prison and Jimmy Stewart as the newspaper guy who married his ex-wife and raised his son.

TCM isn't for everyone, TB will freely admit. Just as there are endless channels that aren't for TB, mostly those that feature insane reality shows like "Dance Moms."

But hey, TB admits there's an audience for both.

College athletics works the same way, to a certain extent.

For some, it's all about the big-time football Saturdays and nothing else. The days when 60, 70, 80, 90, 100 thousand people tailgate, pack the stadium, root for the home team and then tailgate some more.

For TigerBlog, it's about Saturdays like the past one here at Princeton.

TB didn't even mind when he had to park all the way down in the final row in the Jadwin parking lot because there was so much activity on campus.

There was rowing, lacrosse, baseball, softball and tennis. There was a field hockey clinic. There was a huge football recruiting weekend.

Everywhere you looked, there was another sport setting up its tailgate, having its game, having its big event.

There was also a big academic event in Dillon Gym, which added to the number of people here.

To TigerBlog, it was a reminder of what is so special about a place like Princeton, where there is this actual, legitimate commitment to having a broadbased athletic program.

It made for a great atmosphere here Saturday.


CAZ said...

I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray, you wore blue.

CAZ said...

Ricky, I'm going to miss you. Apparently you're the only one in Casablanca with less scruples than I.

Brian McD said...

Long ago I took a screenwriting course with Robert McKee who used Casablanca to illustrate many points, feeling that it was as close to a perfect film as has ever been made. He noted that the refugees were real refugees and that while we think of Bogart and Bergman as superstars and Henreid, Rains and Lorre as only slightly lesser luminaries, Dooley Wilson (Sam) was better known than most of the second group and received a higher salary. His dissection was fascinating (it took about 5 hours) and every single person in the large lecture hall was blown away at the vast number of things that McKee felt were perfect or close to perfect.