(1942)5Mark DemingThere are many people for whom Casablanca is the greatest Hollywood movie ever made, and, while that may be going a bit far, one would be hard-pressed to think of another film in which the pieces fell together with such serendipity. It's hard to imagine a movie in which the leads are better cast: Humphrey Bogart's tough, effortless cool gives Rick the ideal balance of honor and cynicism, Ingrid Bergman's luminous beauty makes it seem reasonable that men would fight for Ilsa's affections, and Paul Henreid's Victor is cold enough that you can imagine Ilsa's being tempted by her old flame. The supporting cast is superb down the line; Claude Rains, Peter Lorre, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Dooley Wilson, and S.Z. Sakall are all so memorable that one tends to forget that none is onscreen for very long. The screenplay often walks the border of cliché, but the story has just enough twists, and the dialogue so much snap, that it stays compelling throughout. And Michael Curtiz knew just when to turn on the schmaltz and when to cut it off. Casablanca blends romance, suspense, humor, and patriotic drama with such skill that one imagines it must have happened by accident, and the movie looks better with each passing year. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll cheer, and the good guys strike a blow against fascism -- what more could you want from a movie?