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Rick Blaine owns a nightclub in Casablanca during World War II. Ilsa, a woman Rick was once in love with when he lived in Paris and never quite got over, walks into his nightclub. She’s in town with her husband, Victor Laszlo, a resistance leader with Nazis hot on his trail.
For more about Casablanca and the Casablanca Blu-ray release, see Casablanca Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on March 20, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 5.0 out of 5.
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Peter Lorre
Director: Michael Curtiz
» See full cast & crew
Casablanca Blu-ray Review
"Play it once, Sam, for old times' sake." Play it twice, cinephiles, for Warner's new AV presentation...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, March 20, 2012
"They don't make movies like Casablanca anymore." So opened our 2008 review of one of the greatest screen romances -- and arguably one of the greatest films -- of all time. It was true four years ago, and it will be true four years from now; it was true in the decades following its modestly successful theatrical debut, and it will be true decades from now, when fewer and fewer moviegoers are familiar with director Michael Curtiz's classic wartime drama. Say what you will about Warner's habit of remastering, repackaging and re-releasing the same films again and again, but it's this practice that grants films like Casablanca a fighting chance at immortality. Thankfully, the studio's 70th Anniversary Limited Edition release is no mere repackaging, and certainly nothing I'd call a double dip. Minted from an all-new 4K scan, presented with a magnificent new video transfer and, for the first time, backed by a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio track, Warner's LE Giftset is officially the definitive version of Casablanca on the market. Here's looking at you, indeed.
Casablanca Blu-ray, Video Quality
I expect nothing short of high definition perfection when dealing with new theatrical releases. But catalog titles? So much can go wrong, so much can be misunderstood about the process, and so much can be taken for granted that anything can (and sometimes does) go wrong. Whatever criticisms videophiles occasionally launch at Warner, though, let one thing be known: the studio that helped sire the modern film industry knows how to treat a catalog classic. Casablanca joins a growing list of remarkable catalog releases thanks to a fresh 4K scan, a meticulous frame by frame restoration, and a stunning 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer that orbits perfection. You don't even have to be a film preservationist to appreciate everything the film's dazzling new presentation offers. Faithful to whatever few faults there are and revealing in every sense of the word, it left me quite speechless. Oh, there's some inherited softness here, a bit of negligible print damage there, but all of it traces back to the film's original source elements (which look about as pristine as they come). Detail is excellent (insofar as Arthur Edeson's early '40s black and white photography allows) and grain, refined and unobtrusive as it is, rarely falters. Moreover, edge definition is crisp and clean (without any significant halos or ringing to report), shadow delineation is sound, and finer textures, when apparent, deliver.
Contrast is dialed in more beautifully than ever before too, with rich black levels, striking whites, vastly improved midrange tones, absorbing shadows and more natural gradation. Yes, the film's grain field drifts off course every so often, and yes, a few shots are a bit worse for the wear (chief among them portions of Isla's iconic departure), but there's simply nothing to suggest any of these exceptions could look any better than they do here. The presentation even strolls past its 2008 Blu-ray counterpart, which earned accolades and high marks when it arrived four years ago (even though, in hindsight, it's now clearly the inferior transfer). Suffice it to say, Warner's restoration and new encode are nothing short of extraordinary. Those who answer Casablanca second call to high definition arms will be glad they did.
Casablanca Blu-ray, Audio Quality
While the 2008 Blu-ray release of Casablanca didn't offer a lossless audio option, the new 70th Anniversary Limited Edition release breezes into Rick's Café Américain with a strong, steady DTS-HD Master Audio Mono (1.0) track. Just don't let the word "mono" set your expectations unnecessarily low. For every purist who whispers "original mono" as if he were in the presence of the Almighty, there's someone muttering "that's it?" But I'd take an authentic, carefully restored single-channel mix over a stocky, innately artificial 5.1 remix any day, and tracks like Casablanca's only solidify my stance on the matter. Dialogue is clear, impeccably prioritized and well-grounded, and hardly ever sounds as if it were captured in a studio. (As even the film's final scenes were.) Effects, though a tad thin, are in keeping with the age and era of the production; Max Steiner's score, though confined to the front of the soundstage, follows suit without any major mishaps or missteps to speak of; and there isn't any distracting noise floor, prevailing hiss, or other debilitating oddities worth mentioning. Casablanca still sounds like a film released in 1942, of course, but it also sounds restored and rejuvenated, just as it should. Could LFE support and rear speaker involvement improve the experience? Perhaps. Would two lossless tracks -- one being a mono track, the other being a 5.1 remix -- amounted to a best-of-both-worlds dream come true? Sure. Should anyone avoid Casablanca because it lacks multi-channel audio? Absolutely not. Lifelong fans will be thoroughly pleased with its humble but hefty swing.
Casablanca Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Similar to the recently released Ben-Hur and Willy Wonka box sets before it, the 70th Anniversary Limited Edition Blu-ray release of Casablanca comes packaged in an attractive but oversized rectangular box (11½ w x 8 h x 2 d) loaded with bonus collectibles. Inside, you'll find a 3-disc Digipak that contains two BD-50s and a standard DVD, a 62-page hardcover book with production notes and behind-the-scenes photos and drawings (11 w x 7½ h), a faux-leather keepsake box (4½ w x 4½ h x ½ d) with four drink coasters (4 inches in diameter), and a 21 x 15-inch 1942 French theatrical mini movie poster. More importantly, you'll find more than thirteen hours of special features spread across the set's two Blu-ray discs, including a variety of content making its Blu-ray debut. The only downside? Most of the extras (all but three documentaries and one Merrie Melodies short actually) are presented in standard definition. Other than HD video and lossless audio all around, though, I'm not sure what more anyone could ask for.
Casablanca Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If you've never seen Casablanca, make Warner's 70th Anniversary Limited Edition Giftset the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Between its all-new 4K scan and restoration, fantastic video transfer, fully capable DTS-HD Master Audio mono mix, and bevy of extras (many of which are new to this release), the studio has gone above and beyond with an ultimate edition that makes the 2008 Ultimate Edition look inadequate. Price is really the only roadblock to consider. If that isn't an issue, add the latest release of Casablanca to your cart post haste.
Casablanca: Other Editions
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Casablanca Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Amazon Blu-ray Deal of the Week: Casablanca (Expired) - December 16, 2012
Amazon's Blu-ray Deal of the Week affects Warner Home Entertainment's 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition of Casablanca. This beloved film centers around an American expatriate who finds his protestations of neutrality during the Second World War tested ...
• This Week on Blu-ray: March 27-April 3 - March 26, 2012
This week, Warner Home Entertainment releases the 70th Anniversary Edition of Casablanca, and every aspect of its design seems carefully calculated to stave off cries of double-dipping; Warner gave the film a new 4K scan, fancy Ultimate Collector's Edition packaging, ...
• Casablanca: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition Blu-ray - January 17, 2012
In March, Warner Home Entertainment will release a 70th Anniversary Casablanca Blu-ray edition. This drama follows Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre), an American expatriate tested when his old flame Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman, Spellbound) ...
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