8:00 PM, 13th November, 2004
An outstanding detective story, The Maltese Falcon has a superb cast and a tight script. This film was one of the early film noirs (some claim the first), and became one of its best representatives.
Attractive Brigid O'Shaughnessy (Astor) hires the San Francisco private eye team of Sam Spade (Bogart) and Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan) under false pretenses. Spade agrees to protect Brigid, even though he can't get a straight answer out of her. But that soon changes when Joel Cairo (Lorre) wishes to hire him and Spade learns that Cairo and his connections are rivals of Brigid, after having a falling out in Hong Kong over the Maltese Falcon, a gold jewel-encrusted black bird that they are all chasing. And the plot thickens...
The many plot twists and crisp direction keep it lively. But it's the characters, dialogue and composition of the film that makes it so great. As the keystone of The Maltese Falcon, Bogart's interpretation of Sam is perfection and Astor is similarly impressive, though over a far smaller span of screen time. The Maltese Falcon makes for a terrific watch, so see it for the first time, or see it again, either way you are in for a treat.
10:01 PM, 13th November, 2004
In unoccupied France of the early 1940s sits Casablanca, a city of desperate hopes and nearly shattered dreams. Casablanca is one of the last stops on the refugee route out of Europe, and passage from this city comes at a high price. In this perilous atmosphere Rick Blaine's (Bogart) Caf((eacute)) Americain thrives. Everybody comes to Rick's to seek exit visas, make deals and almost desperately entertain themselves. In a set of not quite legal circumstances, Rick finds himself in possession of two quick-exit visas. With no intention of using them, he stashes them away. Later that night two people arrive at the Caf((eacute)) Americain. One of them is Ilsa Laud (Bergman), who had a passionate love affair with Rick half a lifetime ago. As the conflicts of their past begin to unravel, Rick and Ilsa must decide if they are to use the visas to leave Casablanca together.
A glorious movie, Casablanca is full of intrigue and romance, combining witty dialogue, a tightly scripted plot, and some of the best performances of the leads' careers. If you've never seen it, shame! See it tonight! If you've seen it before, come to revisit the often-quoted, often-copied original.