Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Here's Looking At You Kid

Like Ilsa Lund and Victor Lazlo, TigerBlog has also been to Lisbon.

His trip was a little less arduous, of course. He got there with the men's lacrosse team as part of its international trip a year ago, and his "letter of transit" to get back was a boarding pass that he got from a kiosk, not from someone who had hidden them in a piano after they were stolen from two murdered German couriers in the desert.

If you ask TigerBlog what his favorite movie of all time is, he'd have to give you three or four of them. If you really, really, really pressed him on his all-time favorite, he'd probably say ...


He's talked about this before, most recently back when the Princeton men's soccer team was in Portugal this past spring. He brings it up today because he recently saw a story about how "Casablanca" is turning 75.

The movie was released in late November 1942 in New York City. It had its national release in early January 1943.

The story that TB saw talks about all of the behind-the-scenes turmoil that went into filming. He already had heard a lot of it, including the different writers, the way the story evolved literally day-by-day, the low expectations of the final product.

Back then, studios churned out dozens of movies per year, and most of them were forgotten quickly. That seemed like it would be the fate of the little movie about the love triangle in the Moroccan city of Casablanca, set against the seeming hopelessness of World War II.

The movie, by the way, was released when the Germans were still occupying Paris. It would be more than 19 months until the Allied invasion of Normandy. For that matter, it was still more than half a year before the Allies even invaded Sicily. A movie that captured the uncertainty of what was going on and featured a cynical and seemingly non-caring American saloon keeper in Casablanca who ends up standing up to the Nazis in a way that gets his former romantic rival to say "welcome back to the fight. This time, I know our side will win" really resonated and helped boost morale.

The movie starred Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid in the love triangle, as well as some great supporting actors, such as Claude Rains, Peter Lorre and especially Sydney Greenstreet. It was a success when it was released, winning three Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and its popularity has only grown in the decades since. The movie holds up because of the acting, the storyline, the constant stream of often quoted lines and of course the ending.

There are so many great scenes, start to finish. TigerBlog has no idea how many times he's seen it, but it's a lot. And now it's 75 years old.

The movie was actually released on Nov. 26, 1942. Princeton basketball fans were able to go to New York to see it, since the Tigers didn't open the 1942-43 season until Dec. 5.

The national release date was Jan. 23, 1943. Princeton had played just six games of the season to that point.

Even when TigerBlog first started covering Princeton, there were no games before Thanksgiving. By this time of the 1989-90 season, for instance, Princeton had played just three games.

The current Tigers have played seven times. Game 8 is tonight in Washington, D.C., where Princeton will take on George Washington.

Princeton is 2-5 on the season. If Mitch Henderson had wanted his team to be 7-0 after seven games, he could have put together a schedule that would have allowed that to happen.

Instead, he's trying to put together a team that will be looking to win a second-straight Ivy League title and then be at its best come Ivy tournament time. That's the challenge for him and his staff.

Speaking of his staff, the most recent episode of "Hard Cuts" follows Kerry Kittles around, from his ride to work through his day. You can see it HERE.

Princeton came into the season with a lot of questions after the graduation of Spencer Weisz and Steven Cook from last year's team. Speaking of Cook, by the way, HERE'S a story about how his professional career is going so far.

So far though seven games, Princeton has started to get answers. Devin Cannady has raised his game a few levels. The three freshmen - Sebastian Much, Ryan Schwiedger, Jerome Desrosiers - have shown they belong. What was really impressive the other day in the loss at No. 10 Miami was the way Much kept shooting with confidence on a night when his shots weren't falling. That tells you a lot about him. You can learn a lot about a player's makeup by watching on a night when things aren't easy.

Are all the answers there? No. But this is how teams get built.

George Washington is 4-4, including a loss to Rider and, most recently, a win over Temple. After George Washington is the last home game of the calendar year, a date Tuesday with Monmouth.

Then it's frequent-flyer miles time, as Princeton will play its final five games of the month as part of a rather long road trip. Or plane trip. It'll start with games at Cal Poly (Dec. 16) and USC (Dec. 19) and then continuing on to Hawaii for the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic beginning Dec. 22.

The one after that is Penn, at Penn, on Jan. 5.

Meanwhile, today is December 6th. TigerBlog will leave you with one more link, which ranks the top 50 quotes from "Casablanca."

Here's looking at you, kid.

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