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Archive for October 6th, 2014

humphrey bogart, claude rains, paul henried & ingrid bergman - casablanca 1943
By Marilyn Ferdinand

Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Although director Michael Curtiz and the rest of the team involved with making Casablanca could not have known it at the time, this last line of dialogue from the film perfectly characterizes the love affair movie audiences have had with this quintessential World War II romance since it premiered on November 26, 1942, in New York’s Hollywood Theatre. During the war, audiences were hungry for news and stories about the war, and films like The Battle of Midway (1942) and Mrs. Miniver (1942) mixed with documentaries like The Memphis Belle: The Story of a Flying Fortress (1944), frankly racist anti-Axis cartoons, and newsreels to keep the public informed and morale high; Casablanca was timed to appear about the same time as the Allied invasion of North Africa on November 8 and the presumed liberation of Casablanca itself. While other wartime films have lived on, none have generated the ardor fans feel for this story of “three little people” caught in a love triangle. What makes this film so compelling that it lands regularly among the top romances of all time?

Millions of words have been expended on this classic film, so it would be pointless of me to rehash what has been said better by others. What I will do is zero in on the subject of this countdown: romance. Casablanca is much more than just a boy-meets-girl kind of romance, and to show that, I’m going to have to go all schoolmarm on you. The birthplace of most of the philosophies that guide Western societies is Greece, and the Greeks had four terms for the main types of love human beings experience: agape, eros, philia, and storge. Agape means love in a spiritual or humanitarian sense, wanting the good of another. Eros, the most common love in Hollywood romances, is the passionate love of longing and desire. Philia is more general and can extend to family, friends, or activities. Finally, storge is natural love, as by a parent for a child; importantly, Greek texts also use this term for situations people must tolerate, as in “loving” a dictator. Casablanca activates each of these forms of love, giving audiences a quadruple whammy of loves so powerful that the film has become the stuff of legend, with well-remembered quotes that distill the essence of these forms of love. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

Lucille, the kids and I had a busy week -mostly the weekend- but nothing that we did, nor the report on the romantic countdown, nor in fact anything at all in our lives comes within a country mile of our concern for Allan Fish.  As many are aware he underwent a grueling operation at a British hospital for the removal of a malignant tumor at the base of his esophagus.  Prior to this procedure he had several months of chemotherapy.  While his prognosis looks very good, he has gone through the mill along with his lovely mum and aunt, who have gone through endless stress.  WitD would not exist in the manner it has since it was founded back in 2008 if it weren’t for Allan, but far more than that he is a personal friend, who my family have seen three times -him coming over to visit us twice for 18 days each time- and us visiting the U.K. last year for two weeks.  Allan and I have battled in public and in private during our sometimes contentious nine-year relationship, but somehow it has strengthened our bond a la Ralph Kramden – What I say about him is one thing….what I feel about him is another!  Ah, such are the trials and tribulations of life, but Allan, as I ponder you in that hospital bed going through what you are going through now, oh buddy I feel for you so much.  Please get out of that ICU as fast as possible.  The world is such a poorer place without you and out and about.  Love, Sam

The Romantic Countdown concludes today with the unveiling of the Number 1 film.  The marathon project began back on May 19th and ran Monday through Friday over the span of nearly six months.  Well over twenty writers contributed with some of the best film writing online.  Thanks again for all those who placed comments and lines, and kept abreast of the endeavor, the fourth genre countdown the site has conducted.  Two weeks ago I identified all those who contributed by name. (more…)

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