Review of Casablanca (1942)
The Germans are conquering Europe. A popular means of escape from them is through the city of Casablanca in Morocco, which was conquered by France in 1907 and is controlled through the Vichy regime, installed in the unoccupied part of France by the Germans. A US expatriate runs a bar in the city, where he stays neutral and cynical. An important figure from the Czech resistance movement enters town, trying to get to safety, in need of the American’s help. In the fighter’s company is a woman who was the American’s greatest love. The story of that love is revealed in a flashback to the last days of unconquered Paris. Everyone has some tough decision to make in the ensuing struggle.
Romantic wartime drama with a series of personal revolutions. Adjusted to censoring, featuring high-contrast comic relief, major plot holes—such as the fact that Victor is seen without being arrested and the inviolability of papers—racism, sexism and propaganda.
Contemporary critics liked it, considering it Oscar material but not more. Like The Great Gatsby (1925), it later rose to the status of a classic, probably because—like Fitzgerald’s novel—it expresses a popular notion of an earlier lost age.