Monday, November 28, 2005

Don't miss the Casablanca Appreciation Day

The Sheila Variations is doing another of her Old Classics turns. This time, it's Casablanca.

I've watched it about once a year for over 20 years. I came to the film late in life. Funny, because I used to stay up late to catch the Humphrey Bogart Friday films on Channel 19 in Cleveland, back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The station would show one movie star's films each week, until it had cycled through the entire career. Then, it would feature another star's films for a while.

Don't quite know why I never saw Casablanca. I had a lively social life at the time, as I was then single. Maybe I just never happened to be free on those nights it was showing.

Recently, I had a student ask me if I was familiar with the film. I responded by saying "I'm shocked, SHOCKED to hear that gambling is taking place in here!" He said back, "But, that's from the movie!" Apparently, he felt that he had been the only one to see this amazing movie - he really had no idea that it was considered a classic.

Don't feel dumb, kid - I've done that, too. Stumbled upon a classic, and loved it instantly, without realizing that others had discovered it long ago. When I was 14, I found F. Scott Fitzgerald, and read the whole shelf. I had no idea that he epitomized the Jazz Age, I just loved the wordy lushness of his work.

It's not hard to see why Bergman's character Ilsa prefers Rick to Lazlo - Lazlo is a wonderful human being, but not a lot of fun. With Rick, she would have lighthearted moments. He doesn't take himself too seriously. And he, unlike Lazlo, doesn't treat her like she's fragile and delicate. Rick relates to her as a man to a grown-up woman, who can take life straight, no chaser.

Reading Sheila's work is fascinating - it's a glimpse into a world I only know as an audience. But Sheila knows it intimately, as a working actress. Her insights into the workings of the theater and movie world are tantalizing and make you feel as though you're right there - in the wings.

Tags = Entertainment

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