I had never seen the movie all the way through. Certainly not on the big screen. I had seen lots of clips from it, and bits on late night TV interrupted by commercials and bedtime.
It was well worth the special trip, and then some. The cinematography is stunning, every frame of it. Ditto Ingrid Bergman. Makeup is fantastic. Costumes were too except there was one blouse Ingrid wears which seemed out of character. And what a great cast. I had no idea what a superb actor Dooley Wilson (Sam) was. There's a line in Sunset Boulevard which fits him "With one look you'll know all you need to know". Looks, gestures, voice, body language, he was the whole package. In real life he did not play the piano, for the film he mimicked a pianist who sat behind the camera. That's acting.
Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre are all great. And except for Bergman were all playing well out of their comfort zone. Character performances by Curt Bois as the slimey but charming Pickpocket, S.Z. Sakall as Carl, the Maitre de'. Madeleine Lebeau as Rick's very pretty sometimes girlfriend grabs the most face time in the singing of La Marseillaise. Corinna Mura as the cabaret singer shows off a great soprano voice.
Directed by Michael Curtiz, who did a phenomenal job with what could easily have been a tawdry mess + circus acts. The score by Max Steiner was just right most of the time - now and then there was a gratuitous splash of La Marseillaise and Deutschland Uber Alles, but not enough to want to throw your shoe at the screen. Arthur Edeson was robbed by not getting the Cinematography Oscar, as was Owen Marks for film editing. Bogart and Rains were the only actors nominated, but did not win. This was more of a full-cast effort, no one role was really Oscar material. And of course the film won Best Picture and Best Screenplay.
From the "making of" piece it was clear that the script changed constantly, which is amazing, considering all the classic lines which are in it. And there were three possible endings, which were not written until the last minute. I like the one they chose. Especially the last line, which I had not realized the full significance of until finally seeing the 30 seconds of dialog which precedes it.
Worth full price.