I was watching this episode of the Mark Steyn Show on Sunday and they made mention of Casablanca. It occurred to me that it had been so long since I watched these old movies, I no longer remember much about them. My generation was probably the last to grow up seeing these old films on television. They would turn up on the UHF channels at night or on weekends. In the 70’s, black and white movies looked almost as good as the color television shows, so the old films seemed to hold up OK, at least to a ten year old.
I decided to fire up the Kodi and watch Casablanca, while I was catching up on some office work. I was a bit surprised at how well it holds up today. Being in black and white probably makes it work by tricking my brain into viewing it through the eyes of my youth, rather than as a jaded old man. The acting is the part that does not work as well today, as the old films were acted like stage plays, which required the audience to use their imaginations. Modern technology lets the audience drop into a coma while watching a film.
Anyway, Casablanca is a classic film for a reason. The story is well done and even 70 years on, the stars are still stars. Maybe it was how they made the movies back then, but Bogart fills the screen in his scenes. Of course, Ingrid Bergman was a stunningly gorgeous women, but even the lesser stars seemed to have a presence. Peter Lorre has a small role early in the film, but you remember it. It’s probably due to how they made movies back then, but the stars don’t have the same screen presence today.
The funny thing about this movie is the plot is very simple and the imagery is a bit heavy handed. In fact, everything about it is simple and rough-hewn, but there’s a moving depth to it. Watching it, I could easily imagine a 1940’s audience, sitting in the dark theater as the movie ends. The women would be teary eyes, maybe squeezing their man’s arm a little harder than normal. The men would be sitting stiff-backed and stony-faced, enjoying their date getting close, while imagining themselves as the honorable Rick Blaine.
Of course, Hollywood in that age made movies that celebrated the higher values of their intended audience. There were some commie writers trying to work their message into films, but by and large the industry liked its customers and sought to appeal to their better natures by celebrating America and American values. The point of movie making in those days was to get people to the theater. That meant making movies that appealed to the majority population, which meant the native stock. No one bothered with virtue signaling.
There was also a degree of respect for the audience. It was assumed that the people in the theater could use their imagination. They did not need a 20-minute sex scene to know that Bogart and Bergman were having a physical relationship. The audience was treated like adults, rather than teenagers. Hollywood often relied on high-brow culture in their films, even though their audience was mostly working class. People read more and they were expected to know about classic stories and characters from Western culture.
Today, the people making movies largely despise the native stock of the country and they really hate the white men. A remake of Casablanca would most likely have the story set at Ellen’s Place, rather than Rick’s Café Américain. The proprietor would have to be a gender fluid lesbian of color, hounded by white males trying to oppress her. The whole thing would be a carnival of degeneracy intended to rub the nose of viewers in a steaming pile of cultural Marxism, as a reminder of who is in charge now.
The world view of the people in charge of movie making is different too. When they made Casablanca, they knew those honkies taking their dates to see Bogie were going to be relied upon to save Western civilization from itself. The people running Hollywood today are convinced they would be better off if the honkies would hurry up and die off. It’s not just that foreign audiences are so important either. There’s a real visceral hatred that screams through the product pumped out by Hollywood today. They hate us a lot.
What I’m always struck by in the old movies is the maturity of the male leads. Bogart was in his 40’s when he made Casablanca and he looked like it. His character was supposed to be middle-aged. He was an adult. Today, the male leads are cartoons, often literally cartoons. The real flesh and blood male leads are steroidal freaks, who look like float decorations at a gay pride parade. More important, they lack maturity. Instead of playing characters that anchor society, they are emotional wrecks who need saving.
I hate this age.