sav’s review published on Letterboxd:
I saw this at the movie theater for the 75th anniversary and it made me love this film more than I already did (which I didn't think was possible).
I feel like everything about what makes this film incredible has been said by people who are far better than me. There's a reason why this film has been one of the most famous films of all time for 75 years. Romance, drama, comedy, and a war they thought would never end - it is all combined so beautifully to create a masterpiece. Somehow it manages to represent so many genres effortlessly. Most directors cannot even pull off making a film centered around one genre. Never has a film been released where one second you are laughing and the next moment you are crying. This film gives the audience so many emotions that by the end I was a mess.
This film has one of the best casts of all time, if not the best cast. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman's chemistry is undeniable. Seeing the way Bogart reminisces over his relationship with Bergman is heartbreaking. His vulnerability breaks through his hard exterior, and it is one of the few instances in film where we see a man emotional over a relationship. He was so in love with her that he closed his heart forever, only caring about himself and never letting anyone see his true side again. The supporting cast is equal to our main stars in terms of performance. I absolutely love Claude Rains in this film, and he is seriously a comedic genius. Some of my favorite scenes were him and Bogart's banter. Peter Lorre and Conrad Veidt, two veteran German Expressionism actors, showed how they can takeover American cinema. I honestly wish Peter Lorre was on the screen longer. No matter if he is the main character or only on the screen for a couple of minutes, he gives everything he has in his performance.
The black and white is gorgeous to say the least. I noticed so many subtle lighting and camera angle choices that really capture the essence of the film. I especially love it in Bogart's infamous "of all the gin joints" scene as well as the ending scene. It really shows the power of simple lighting and how it can change a scene. Modern films need to step back and watch this, because Hollywood does not understand cinematography and lighting and how it plays into a story.
This film is one of a kind. There will never be a film like this again. I always have yearned to live in the 1940s and 1950s to see the epitome of cinema, but I was able to take a step back in time and watch it on the screen like viewers in 1942 did.