3. Casablanca (1942)

A cynical expatriate American cafe owner struggles to decide whether or not to help his former lover and her fugitive husband escape the Nazis in French Morocco.

I’m going to be honest: I have tried to start this article four times now. All because I have no idea what I want to say about the film Casablanca. It’s a film that I own. It’s a film that I enjoy. It’s iconic. What else more is there for me to say?

Casablanca became incredibly ingrained in the general popular consciousness, in large part due to the television boom of the1950s and onward. The film was broadcast to larger audiences on a more frequent basis, bringing it more and more praise as time went on. Which, I would think, is one contributing factor to this film being on this list.

Another factor: the writing and performances. These two go hand in hand. Casablanca has been known to have some of the most iconic lines in film history. Even if you haven’t seen the film, chances are that you’ve heard a line or two.

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Written by brothers Julius J. & Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch, Casablanca is honestly a textbook screenplay. But, that same screenplay would be nothing without the character interpretations by Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, and Claude Rains. Humphrey Bogart plays Rick Blaine in a captivating manner. He oozes this cool and carefree nature while showing the audience male vulnerability from a stereotypical masculine type. Ingrid Bergman emphasizes the complexity of Isla Lund and the choices that she makes throughout her life. Paul Henreid plays Victor Lazlo in a way that makes it impossible to dislike him. And, last but certainly not least, Claude Rains plays Captain Louis Renault, a corrupt prefect of police in the city of Casablanca, but not corrupt in the way you may think. He walks this line of neutrality that is truly impressive. And the way Rains and Bogart play off each other; it never gets old.

I definitely have a soft spot for Casablanca because of its importance in a film that I consider one of my favorites:

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When I say something is ingrained in our culture, I mean like that. There has been media after media that has used Casablanca as either inspiration for plot lines or just for comical purposes. And that’s just one of many things that keeps Casablanca alive.

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