Top Ten List for My Birthday #6

I have been writing this blog for over ten years now, and I have resisted putting up a list of my favorite films for that whole time. As the Borg say “Resistance is Futile!” 

This year I am marking another year in my sixth decade of life. I did several birthday posts in the past and enjoyed them immensely. The last two years my heart has just not been into it. This year however, I am trying to push my way back into normalcy, but I don’t have the energy to generate 63 things for a list. So what I am going to do is a ten day countdown of my favorite films.

Every year when I have posted a top ten list, I always point out that it is a combination of quality and subjective enjoyment that creates that list. Those are the guiding principles here as well. I will not claim that these are the ten greatest movies ever made, although I know several of them would be deserving of a spot on such a list. Instead, these are my ten favorite films as it stands at the moment. In a month, I could reconsider or remember something that I have tragically left off the list, but for this moment here is how they rank.

#6 Casablanca

All of us are influenced by where we come from. My parents were interesting people from the greatest generation. My Dad fought in WWII, my Mom was his High School Sweetheart, and they both had a favorite movie. They loved this movie so much, they named me after the lead character. Although with most people these days I go by Richard, when I was a kid, it was Rick. My Mom only called me Richard when I was getting middle named also, in other words when I was in trouble.

The story of the movie Casablanca is complex and surprising. It’s based on a play, was cast multiple times, started shooting without a complete script and still ended up perfect. This may be the most romantic film ever made, and the romance does not end happily ever after like most romantic comedies. This is a story of sacrifice, made by people who were in the midst of one of the greatest historical calamities ever. Rick says it in the movie,  “it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world”, but of course they do. Individual actions are what make the difference. 

I think this may be the most quoted movie in history. There are so many lines that work in just the right situation, that it will inevitably come up at some point. Myself, I have been shocked to find that there is gambling going on in here, on a weekly basis. And if I gave you any thought, I would probably despise you. 

I make no secret of the fact that I am a sentimentalist. When Victor Laszlo commands the band to “Play the “Marseillaise.”… Play it!, and the whole club stands and out sings the Nazis, I get a lump in my throat that takes five minutes to subside. As Rick laments the fact that his is the gin joint she has found, my heart is breaking. When Captain Renault utters the line “round up the usual suspects” indicating he has found his spine once more, all of our characters are redeemed. Hell, I am tearing up as I write this. 

All of the cast is spot on, and every supporting player feels essential to making the movie work. The Max Steiner score, and the song “as Time Goes By” will thrill you and break your heart. I’m not one of those movie snobs who believes if you don’t agree with me that you are automatically wrong. However, if you don’t love this film, I do think there is something wrong with you and you probably need medication.

Previous Posts on Casablanca

TCM/Fathom 70th Anniversary Casablanca