First the trailer as audiences first saw it in 1942.
Can it really be 70 years since Bogie and the rest of that amazing cast did their thing on the Warner Brothers lot in Burbank? Casablanca continues to reign as the favourite movie of a majority of those who have been surveyed over the past few decades.
Do I remember the first of the 40 or so times that I have seen it in my life? Like it was yesterday. The year was 1956, and I had just turned 9. Dad let me stay up and watch it with him one Saturday night, much to my mother’s disapproval. I think her negative feelings were generated when he shared with both of us, the circumstances under which he first saw Casablanca . He was living in London for 18 months prior to D-Day, serving with the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps. My Dad, Andy Currie, was every bit the movie nut that I turned out to be. In that regard and a few others, the apple certainly did not fall far from the tree.
So, one blacked out night in war torn London, Dad and a buddy traveled to Croydon to catch this new flick with Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Two nights later the theatre was destroyed by a German rocket, and more than 30 movie goers were killed. The story was not lost on me as a young boy, even though I still wasn’t terribly clear then how I arrived in this world.
Nowadays when you can speak to your smartphone and it will play anything on the HD screen including this cinema classic, it doesn’t seem to have the same magic it once had. In 1965 when I was a freshman at St. John’s College in Winnipeg, I rented a 16 mm print of Casablanca and screened it for a group of my fellow students. It was definitely “the beginning of a beautiful friendship” for several of us. Carrying those three reels of film in my car for two days was as if I suddenly had possession of Aladdin’s lamp.
By that stage our faces were clearing up and some of us were even discovering the agony of losing a love that seemed oh so right. We definitely knew how we got here. It was about that time that Paul McCartney was writing the song that would go on to be voted the ‘best love song of the 20th century’ in a couple of different polls.
Do you think he might have been watching a certain movie just before he put the words and music on paper?
In the immortal words of Tom Wolfe “It could have happened that way”.
When all is said and done “We’ll always have Paris”.