Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of TCM with a free screening of CASABLANCA

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This year marks the 20th anniversary of Turner Classic Movies. To celebrate the event as well as give back to the many devoted viewers who regularly watch and enjoy the network’s programming, TCM has teamed up with Warner Brothers to offer free theatrical screenings of the romantic wartime classic CASABLANCA (1942). The film will be playing nationwide in 20 selected cities on Tuesday, March 4th and tickets are currently available to download free of charge on the TCM 20th Anniversary website. Although tickets are free seating is limited to a first-come, first-served basis and they do not guarantee entry. Want to know where you can catch a free screening of CASABLANCA? Read on but be prepared to wade through a few of my thoughts about the film first.

To be frank, I’m not always fond of romantic dramas or war movies because they often follow a simple formula that doesn’t do much service to their weighty topics. But I really enjoy Michael Curtiz’ CASABLANCA because it refuses to be easily defined and kicks many of the tired clichés associated with both film genres to the curb. The indispensable Humphrey Bogart challenges the stereotypical romantic leading man found in so many Hollywood films. Bogart’s Rick Blaine is a rough and tumble hard drinking anti-hero who doesn’t particularly deserve the woman that he loves but I always find myself rooting for him to board that plane with the lovely and luminous Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman). Their doomed romance is at the heart of CASABLANCA and Bogart’s improvised and infamous line “Here’s looking at you, kid” has become the stuff of legend, book titles, song lyrics and Spark Notes. It’s what TCM has rightfully dubbed an “Essential” but that’s not why I enjoy returning to CASABLANCA again and again. What fires up my imagination are the peripheral characters that linger around the film’s rough edges. The shady rogues, crooked cops, war criminals and usual suspects are the glue that holds this movie together for me.

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In CASABLANCA Peter Lorre gave audiences a master class in how to steal a film from its leading man even when you’ve only been given a few minutes of screen time. His scheming gun-toting Ugarte could be easily forgotten in another actor’s less capable hands but Lorre makes you eager to know more about his character’s illicit past and personal demons. Sidney Greenstreet’s Signor Ferrari splendidly huffs and puffs his way through the film trying to influence events with his bulk and his brains. I can’t be the only one who wishes CASABLANCA spent a little less time at Rick’s lush Café Américain and a little more time at Ferrari’s seedy Blue Parrot bar. And who can forget Conrad Veidt’s utterly evil and magnificently malicious Major Heinrich Strasser? Viedt’s nasty Nazi commander spits out orders like their bullets and arches his villainous eyebrows to catastrophic heights while he’s eagerly gobbling up the scenery. It’s also impossible to overlook Dooley Wilson as Rick’s sensitive piano playing pal Sam, Leonid Kinskey as the lustful Russian bartender, S.Z. Sakall as the softhearted waiter and Curt Bois who plays a nameless pick pocket effortlessly swiping wallets as well as scenes from his costars. And last but not least I must single out Claude Rains who is having way too much fun playing the unscrupulous Captain Louis Renault. The French policeman gets most of the film’s best lines and seems to relish the script’s gallows humor. Rains’ sharp witted line delivery forces you to laugh right along with him even when his character’s callous disregard for truth and justice are making you cringe.

So my suggestion to you is this: Come and see CASABLANCA for the complex, surprisingly adult and often celebrated romantic triangle that plays out between Bogart, Bergman and Paul Henreid. But stick around for the international war-related intrigue generated by a great cast of unruly supporting characters who constantly threaten to upstage one another. All of them are worthy of a Thelma Ritter Award as recently outlined by my fellow Morlock, Greg Ferrara.

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You can catch a free theatrical screening of CASABLANCA in the following cities and venues on March 4th.

Atlanta, Ga. – Regal Atlantic Station
Baltimore, Md. – Landmark Harbor East
Boston, Mass. – AMC Boston Commons
Buffalo, N.Y. – Regal Walden Galleria
Chicago, Ill. – Music Box
Dallas, Texas – Angelika Film Center
Denver. Colo. – Landmark Mayan
Detroit, Mich. – Uptown Palladium
Houston, Texas – Regal Edwards Marq’E
Los Angeles, Calif. – Landmark West
Miami, Fla. – AMC Aventura
Minneapolis, Minn. – Landmark Lagoon
New York, N.Y. – AMC Lincoln Square
Orlando, Fla. – Regal Winter Park
Philadelphia, Pa. – Ritz East
St. Louis, Mo. – Wehrenberg Chesterfield Galaxy
San Diego, Calif. – Landmark Hillcrest Cinemas
San Francisco, Calif. – Cinemark Century 9 SF Centre
Seattle, Wash. – AMC Pacific Place
Washington, D.C. – Landmark E Street

For more information please visit the TCM 20th Anniversary website.

8 Responses Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of TCM with a free screening of CASABLANCA
Posted By Qalice : February 20, 2014 10:13 pm

May I add a shout-out to Madeleine LeBeau as Yvonne? Her character’s behavior is neither virtuous nor villainous, but Yvonne’s love for her occupied country when they play the Marseillaise is genuinely touching.

Posted By Marjorie Birch : February 20, 2014 10:57 pm

Like many in the cast, Madeleine LeBeau (who was married in real life to the croupier, name escapes me at the moment, I’m sorry to say) got out of Europe with little more than the clothes she was wearing.

And since I’m here, can I say a kind word for Paul Henreid? He’s almost always dismissed as a dull, virtuous stick of a fellow in a thankless role, but I always thought there was a certain playfulness about his performance as Victor Lazlow. (“We read that you were dead five times in the papers.” “Yes, and as you see, it was true, every single time.”) And he was truly a gentleman concerning the romance between his wife and Rick — he damn well he knew that they had had an affair, but there was no blustering, no jealousy.

As for Claude Rains — frankly, he’s the reason I watch the movie every time it shows on TCM.

Posted By chris : February 20, 2014 11:06 pm

Thanks for letting me know just in time to find out that the city I could see it in(St. Louis) is already sold out…lol

Posted By doug : February 20, 2014 11:38 pm

“Casablanca” is the perfect movie to celebrate TCM’s anniversary, and the supporting cast does indeed shine, reflecting the starlight from the central duo.
Watched Claude Rains and Bergman in “Notorious” the other night, and he once again
executed a fully unique role.
I think Paul Henreid will never get the acclaim due him as his character is the obstacle
to happiness. Hard to warm up to that guy. But without him it’s just another programmer with a happy ending. (Understated for effect, of course)

Posted By Mark Mayerson : February 21, 2014 1:08 am

The croupier is Marcel Dalio, famous for his work in Jean Renoir’s two masterpieces, The Grand Illusion and The Rules of the Game. A personal favorite role is his priest in John Ford’s Donovan’s Reef.

Posted By gregferrara : February 21, 2014 3:45 am

And, yes, I agree, this “great cast of unruly supporting characters who constantly threaten to upstage one another,” are all deserving of a Ritter. What a great movie!

Posted By Terri Adams : February 21, 2014 5:20 am

What none in Florida? It is where most of us that saw it when released live. Don’t we deserve to see it again as we first saw it. What happened to the great showings of those classic movies on the big screen on Wednesdays. We didn’t miss a one. It was great seeing them again as they were suppose to be seen. I took my grandchildren to see E.T.. They were thrilled.

The contest for the book, doesn’t allow a complete phone number to be inserted. It only accepts 2 characters in the first two blanks. Anyone else having this trouble.

By the way… 83 + 7 = 90. Am I missing something?

Posted By robbushblog : February 24, 2014 2:39 pm

There are shows in Miami and Orlando, both a little too far way from me, but I’ve seen Casablanca on the big screen twice before.

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