At the movies · Home life · Word of the week

Word of the week: Casablanca

My 14 year old daughter suggested that we watch a film on  Christmas Eve. Much of our TV viewing involves live sport, quiz shows and “Strictly Come Dancing”, and series like “Friends”, “Big Bang Theory” and “Modern Family” on Netflix, but over the years we have made an effort to watch films on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve especially.

I suggested “Casablanca”, which the BBC had shown earlier in the week. It was (and is) still available on the iPlayer. I hadn’t seen it all the way through for at least 25 years and have always enjoyed it. It’s even better than I remembered. The only other film made before 1950 that my children have seen all the way through is “The Wizard of Oz”. They, and my wife, also enjoyed “Casablanca” enormously. I got into the Christmas mood with a couple of beers and a shot of Jameson. If I had remembered the film in greater detail I could have matched what the characters were drinking, in the following order: champagne, brandy, Cointreau, champagne cocktails, more brandy, and more champagne. If I were ever to play a film-related drinking game this would definitely be my choice of viewing, though I might be seeing double by the time Rick, llsa and Victor Laszlo make it to the airport.

One of my reasons for choosing “Casablanca” was its Oscar-winning status. It won Best Picture and Best Director for 1943. I thought it would be good for the children to see at least one Best Picture winner for every decade. They have already seen examples from the 1960s (“Oliver!”, “My Fair Lady”), 1980s (“Chariots of Fire”) and 2010s (“The King’s Speech”). As noted in this piece from earlier in the year, we started watching “Slumdog Millionaire” (a Best Picture winner from the 2000s) but switched to “Breaking Away” instead (an Oscar for Best Screenplay, but not Best Picture). We have caught the last hour, on TV, of one of the Best Picture winners of the 1950s (“Ben-Hur”) but I have two of the others on DVD: “Around the World in 80 Days” and “Gigi”. Perhaps we should watch the latter. I don’t remember it well. We could complete the set (one Best Picture winner from each decade, starting in the 1940s) with “Rocky” or “The Sting” (1970s) and “Titanic” or “Forrest Gump” (1990s). We certainly won’t be watching “Silence of the Lambs” (1991) anytime soon.

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