Since its release in late 1942, the black and white film Casablanca has been a perennial favorite film with audiences (in movie theatres, on TV and video) and critics alike. Viewing the film, the reasons for its ongoing popularity are clear. The characters and the actors who portray them (both stars and supporting cast), the tone of the film, the music, the sparse and memorable dialogue, the story and themes of love, intrigue, self-sacrifice and heroism resonate with audiences. The film has a timeless quality that guarantees it will not go out of fashion as many other films of its era have.
Unfortunately part of the timelessness of the film is based upon the complex world situation since World War II, a world in which the threat and reality of violence, uncertainty and tension exists anew for each generation. The elements in Casablanca of German occupation and Nazi terror, refugees seeking safety, overall confusion and tension, the sacrifice of personal happiness for the greater good, and of course romantic love that lasts "as time goes by," is as real and appealing to audiences today as in 1942.
Essentially Casablanca is a romantic melodrama, but audiences respond to more than that. They respond to the human yearning for nobility, heroism, as well as romance. These qualities are embodied in the film's hero, the tough yet tender expatriate American Rick (Humphrey Bogart) who sacrifices his own self-interest for a higher cause, something a lot of people may want to do at some time, but few do, so they can live vicariously through Rick. Early in the film Rick states that he sticks his neck out for nobody, but as the film progresses Rick changes his attitude, joins the fight for freedom and redeems himself. A man who loses his soul and regains it in a stunning reversal is a true screen hero.
Over the years Bogart has become an icon based on this film and others. So a major reason for the film's continuing popularity is Bogar...