Appreciating the Classics

It had recently been revealed to Dayle that I had never seen Casablanca or Gone With the Wind. I’m sure this may come as a shock to a handful of you given my obsession with the movie industry. I suppose it is a bit of an embarrassment that I had yet to cross these two classics off of my to-watch list. Lucky for us, it rained all day Sunday and my Roku player loves Amazon’s Instant Watch catalog.

First up was Casablanca. Going into this movie, I knew I would recognize a few of the choice lines of dialog, after all this industry can’t help but refer to itself whenever possible. I’ll leave the rest of my observations in bullet points, since I’m my mind is jumping all over the place trying to remember everything.

  • Humphrey Bogart comes off as one of those guys who knew he was the man and the camera loved every second of him. Not in a “better than you” way – more of a “life of the party” kind of way. I imagine we’ll look on people like Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks with that kind of reverence after their career is long gone.
  • I can’t help but look back at this movie through the lens of modern film making – they stayed in one location/set for at least the first thirty minutes of the movie. No way something like that happens today.
  • I can’t remember a close-up of Ingrid Bergman without a combination soft light and the dramatic music. I imagine this is a theme of that generation of film.
  • I don’t care if this thing came out in 1942, this movie still holds up.

Here's lookin at you, kid.

As mentioned, Gone With the Wind is my mom’s favorite movie. Of all time. It is with this context that I tread carefully. I’ll say upfront I did not enjoy this movie as much as Casablanca. Yes, the movie was nearly three and a half hours long if you don’t skip the musical interludes and yes, I did look at the clock a number of times as scenes were (in my opinion) dragging on but I still recognize this movie’s importance and impact on modern cinema.

My mom has informed me that I need to watch “The Search for Scarlett”, a making-of featurette detailing, among other things, the extensive search for the the actress who would play Scarlett O’Hara. Regardless, I couldn’t connect with Scarlett. In the first hour her character resembled a Southern interpretation of a Downton Abbey character. War-time Scarlett was probably my favorite version, she did what she had to do to get by and when she got back on top she didn’t look back. High-falootin (that’s a word) Scarlett needed to have a stern talking to. By the time her big revalations occur at the end of the movie, I had checked out. My mom says the book presents things a bit differently and maybe one day I will investigate for myself but not today, and not tomorrow.

Oh Ashley!

Ultimately, this movie is a big deal and I’m all for that. I don’t regret watching either of these movies and if there’s some reason you’re reading this and haven’t seen either of these movies I can happily say that you need to make this your new priority for the weekend.

6 thoughts on “Appreciating the Classics

  1. Love the review from a first-time watcher! I saw both when I was pretty young, so my adult-viewings are biased because I see them through that younger-self lens as well. I totally agree that Casablanca is incredible – plus, the diversity of the cast is remarkable, considering it was made in the 40s. GWTW is, in my opinion, awesome because of that glimpse you get into that time in history. Scarlett is totally overwrought, but all the women in that movie are – it seems it was practically expected of Southern women of the time. She as a character is interesting because she does pluck herself up during the war and become an independent powerhouse – something that Melly arguably couldn’t have done, even though she’s a much more sympathetic character.

    In any case, glad you enjoyed your classic film weekend! :)

  2. Oh my son. You have to watch GWTW again after you see the “making of”. One of the things we did not talk about because I was defending Scarlett and blaming Ashley for all her woes, was the film making itself. It was made in 1935. Your grandmother was 5 years old…that’s an old film. It was so grand at the time. Other studios tried to replacate the grand scope, but htey failed. Also there was so much pressure on the film makers because the book was so successful. Okay…enough. Let’s watch the making of together as a Mother’s Day gift…deal?

  3. I’ll say off the top that “Casablanca” is perhaps my favorite film of all time… certainly in the top three. It’s one of those rare films that I’ll watch over and over again. It’s just almost perfect.

    Didn’t care for “Gone With The Wind.”

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