Casablanca 70th Anniversary Celebration
Normally, Wednesday nights are not very exciting. It’s the middle of the week, and there are two more days until the weekend. But one Wednesday in March of 2012 was anything but ordinary. March 21, 2012 was the day that thousands across the U.S. were enthralled and thrilled to view a special showing of one of the greatest films ever made. That film was the magnificent Casablanca.
I had the distinct privilege of being present at Cinemark Movies 14 in Mishawaka, Indiana on Wednesday night March 21 to view a special 70th anniversary presentation of the iconic Casablanca. This special one night only showing was satellite broadcast to 450+ theatres across America, thanks to Turner Classic Movies and TimeWarner. The night began with an introduction from TCM host and film historian Robert Osborne. Mr. Osborne discussed the casting of the film, as well as the difficulties in getting the film made. The most interesting story was of the night of the 1943 Academy Awards. Casablanca won for Best Picture, and as director Michael Curtiz was rising from his chair to approach the podium, he was nearly knocked over by an on-rushing Jack Warner, who ran onstage and accepted the Oscar statue. While the back story was enlightening, everyone in the theatre was tense with anticipation, waiting for the main event.
I have personally viewed Casablanca more times than I could ever count. But there was something extra special about this viewing. For its illustrious anniversary, the picture and sound were remastered beautifully. And I had almost forgotten how near-perfect a film I was watching. The acting is superb. Leading men and woman blend seamlessly with character actors. Just look at this star studded lineup: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, and Conrad Veidt. The cinematography is gorgeous. And the script…oh, what a script. I cannot think of any movie in history with more quotable lines than Casablanca.
But don’t take my word for it. See it for yourself, either for the first time or the one hundred and first time. Warner Bros. has released a 70th Anniversary Blu-Ray box set of the film which includes both the Blu-Ray and DVD versions of the film, as well as a third disc featuring a plethora of bonus materials. Also included is a 64-page supplementary booklet, along with three collectible drink coasters. No matter your age, Casablanca is ageless. Entire families, including children under the age of ten, were brought together on this special night for this momentous occasion. So, as Rick would say to Ilsa, “here’s looking at you, kid.”