Tag: Humphrey Bogart

December 23, 2016 / / Main Slate Archive

“Play it again, Sam.”

Those words are a myth, never uttered on screen in Casablanca (1942). “Play it” yes. And the music starts and Sam croons in that black-and-white, smoke-tinged gin joint, but no one asks him to play it “again.” The line is misquoted.

There’s a certain poetry in that mistake, though. How can one play or recreate the magic of Casablanca again? Great stories can never be remade or recaptured. Magic can only really happen once. It may sound hokey, but that is what Casablanca is: magic, a masterpiece of Hollywood cinema. Don’t believe me? Just go to the critics who constantly and consistently place Casablanca into their top ten films of all time.

September 25, 2016 / / Main Slate Archive

It might not be an utter coincidence that The Maltese Falcon and Citizen Kane were released within a month of each other in 1941, as both films jockey for the title of American film noir’s founding father and have stood the test of time with critics for over seventy five years. The two films of course share their contemporary cultural moment: the depression was ending, a second world war was rising, and the nation was enduring a rumble of emotional unrest while struggling to forge a path out of desperation. Part of what makes both films so poignant is the braiding of that unrest, repression, and ambiguity into the characters of their leading men, atmosphere, as well as the flow of the camera movement and cinematography.

To suggest IN A LONELY PLACE is a film about a murder is akin to calling PYSCHO a story about a shower. Sure, both feature prominently, but that’s hardly the point. There’s far more going on in this murky exploration of a paranoid, pandering Hollywood, and two damaged people struggling to find something to cling to before they’re both swept away.

TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT (1944) was the first film to throw together the now legendary on and off screen couple, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Their chemistry is immediately apparent on screen, full of clever jabs, inside jokes, Bacall’s sultry, taunting eyes, and Bogart’s amused half smile. From moment to moment it is a cat and mouse game between them, though you never know for sure who is the cat and who is the mouse. While the plot of the film falls a bit short and feels like a noir version of a CASABLANCA (1943) remake, Bogart and Bacall’s on screen spark ultimately makes this a great film. It’s like watching two kids with a chemistry set: each adding elements that may cause an explosion, and each watching the other to see who will flinch first. Bogart and Bacall are so great in this film just being the Bogart and Bacall we love, that the jumbled plot about the French resistance feels secondary, and separate from their romance.


If gruff, anti-social private eye Philip Marlowe had come of age a few decades later, he’d have been Lew Harper. Sarcastic, flippant, and completely unconcerned with others’ opinions of him, Harper might have responded as Humphrey Bogart’s Marlowe did when Lauren Bacall complained about his manners in the 1946 film THE BIG SLEEP. “I don’t mind if you don’t like my manners. I don’t like them myself. I grieve over them on long winter evenings.” Paul Newman’s Harper could get away with that.

October 1, 2013 / / Main Slate Archive


Movie moments imprint themselves on us like tattoos. Whenever my best friend, Bob Stone, and I get together, it is not our health, our families, our jobs we talk about. Right off the bat, we break into our KEY LARGO routine, Bob doing his best impersonation of Johnny Rocco browbeating his ex-moll, Gaye Dawn, to “Sing it! Sing ‘Moanin’ Low’!!  Sing it NOW!!” and me then warbling “Moanin’ Low” more off-key and ear-grating than Claire Trevor ever did. This is followed by Bob’s equally spot-on version of Edward G. Robinson’s classic, “Soldier! Soldier! I’m not armed! Soldier!”  Then we both crack up laughing. For Bob and me, as for many who have seen or will see KEY LARGO, these scenes are indelibly superglued to our movie consciousness. ” KEY LARGO and classic movies like it train us to worship and cherish their words and images long after the first time we heard and saw them. They take up permanent residence in our collective movie heads and we are happy to have them there.

September 27, 2013 / / Main Slate Archive


My first experience with CASABLANCA was The Great Movie Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (though back then it was called MGM Studios). It’s a boat ride inside the Chinese Theatre that takes you through animatronic recreations of famous movie scenes. The ride honored the famous “Here’s looking at you, kid” scene with Rick (Humphrey Bogart) sending Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) onto the plane with Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid).

June 16, 2011 / / Main Slate Archive

The African Queen – 1951 – dir. John Huston

Three giants of American movie-making grace the frames of The African Queen.  Katharine Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and John Huston were already legends (or well on their way to becoming such) when they teamed to make the now classic 1951 adventure comedy, one of the great stories in movie history.

November 23, 2009 / / Main Slate Archive

By Peggy Nelson

Casablanca – 1942 – dir. Michael Curtiz

So.  Here you are, Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman), a young woman in your twenties, newly hatched and out and about in the world, meeting the usual suspects.  Among them is Victor Laszlo (Paul Heinreid); he’s handsome, passionate, committed to a good cause, the only cause: liberté, égalité, fraternité.  In fact, he’s actually the leader of the resistance!  And single.  And he singles you out.  You cannot believe your luck.  There are many late nights in the café, and then later nights at his apartment.  Your relationship is secret, this is for your protection he says, but that just adds to the aura.  There’s a lot of travel, too; it isn’t safe to stay too long in one place, especially for him.  There seems to be one “it” city every half-century, Paris is currently “it,” and you’ve arrived.

Then the Nazis pick him up.  Then you fall in love.  But not with him.

February 12, 2009 / / Film Notes

Casablanca -1942 – dir. Michael Curtiz

Enough of whether Valentine’s Day was invented by greeting card companies, created in St. Valentine’s dark laboratory of evil science, or if “Valentine’s Day should be every day” in a healthy relationship.  You love the candy, so what does it matter?

Valentine’s Day should be an excuse (for those of us who need an excuse) to be just a little bit nicer to those for whom we care.  It should be a day of reaching out, of reforging connections, and of gratitude to those with whom we share compassion.  What a nice day!

So why celebrate it by watching Casablanca – a film, by most definitions, about love lost?