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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the iconic love story of Casablanca, with its heroic characters, rousing message, and beautiful black-and-white production values, should appeal to teens, as well as adults. Younger viewers will get more out of the film with some historical context. There are two sequences during which characters are shot and killed. Police are seen rounding up frightened citizens and refugees. Characters drink (sometimes to excess) and smoke throughout.
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What's the story?
Set in French-controlled Casablanca in the early part of WWII, CASABLANCA follows hardboiled American nightclub owner Rick (Humphrey Bogart), who agrees to hide some stolen (and highly coveted) transit letters, which are used to by refugees to leave the country and escape from the Nazis. Police Captain Renault (Claude Rains) and Nazi Major Strasser (Conrad Veidt) are tipped off that Rick might have the letters, and they put the pressure on him. Strasser is also hunting escaped Czech resistance leader Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), who arrives at Rick's with Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman). Rick and Ilsa have a history, and Rick is still deeply angry at the stunning beauty. What ensues is a story of love, betrayal, sacrifice, narrow escapes, and the most memorable airport tarmac scene in film history.
Is it any good?
This is probably the most famous Hollywood movie of all time, and for good reason. Certainly the most quoted, and the most frequently cited as an all-time favorite, Casablanca won Best Picture, Director, and Writer awards at the 1943 Oscar ceremony. The definitive rebuttal to notions of the "auteur" (one author) in film, the romantic drama was put together in pieces by many different sources, with script pages completed just moments before the cameras rolled. The performances by Bogart and Bergman are so subtle and complex because the actors themselves had no idea how it was going to end.
Almost every frame of the movie is an icon, and it has been endlessly copied and parodied. The Woody Allen movie Play It Again, Sam (rated PG, but not for kids as the entire plot is about seduction) is an affectionate tribute to Casablanca and other Bogart movies.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what makes a movie like Casablanca stand the test of time. Is it the characters? The themes of good and evil? The unforgettable dialogue? Which contemporary movies do you think will last?
How does the historical context affect the film? In what ways does the backdrop of WWII influence the characters and their actions?
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