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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - March, 2012

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"Casablanca (70th Anniversary Edition)" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Heinonen

movie-march-2012-casablanca

Synopsis

Casablanca: easy to enter, but much harder to leave, especially if you're wanted by the Nazis. Such a man is Resistance leader Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), whose only hope is Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), a cynical American who sticks his neck out for no one - especially Victor's wife Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), the ex-lover who broke his heart. Ilsa offers herself in exchange for Laszlo's transport out of the country and bitter Rick must decide what counts more - personal happiness or countless lives hanging in the balance.

Specifications

  • Universal
  • 1942, Color, PG, 1 Hour 42 Minutes
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
  • Codec: AVC
  • 1080p
  • English Mono DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains
  • Directed by Michael Curtiz
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

I've watched Casablanca countless times, and have never gotten tired of it.  With a story set during a turbulent time in the world, but a simple story that connects the characters involved, it really doesn't age or grow tired at all.  You can't imagine the characters being played by anyone else, as everyone seems tailor made for their role.  There really isn't much to be said about Casablanca that hasn't been said before, only that if you haven't seen it there has never been a better time.

Technical

Having seen Casablanca originally on DVD, then on HD-DVD, then Blu-ray, and finally this brand new Blu-ray with a new 4K scan to create it.  Compared to the previous Blu-ray the differences are pretty small, but there is more grain structure than before.  Some people loved the lack of grain on the previous release, and some felt that they were scrubbing over details to remove grain.  With the new transfer, you can pick up on the soft focus in many of the close-up shots, and it has enough detail to pick up differences in the white-on-white textures of Bogart's tuxedo.  Casablanca will never be a tack-sharp image, but it is going to be hard to get more detail out of it than this does.

The main other upgrade from the last release is that we finally get a lossless soundtrack.  It is the original mono mix, which is perfectly fine with me, but no longer is it restricted to the anemic Dolby Digital bitrate.    Casablanca might not be filled with shootouts and chase scenes to stress your system, but dialogue and effects come across well, and the most active scene (of the two bands competing with each other) comes across more clearly than ever before.

Extras

The limited edition box set includes a very nice book about the film, a poster reproduction, Casablanca coasters, and a load of special features including twin audio commentaries, deleted scenes, alternate takes, a host of brand new featurettes on the films director and stars, a five hour documentary on Warner Brothers, two more documentaries on the Warner brothers, and a DVD copy of the film.  More than anyone could ask for.