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“Casablanca”: National Film Registry #1

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This year marks the 30th anniversary of the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.  Begun in 1989, the Registry annually recognizes American-made films, encompassing all genres, which are of such aesthetic, historic or cultural importance to the United States that they are worthy of preservation by copyright holders or archives such as the Library of Congress.  (For more information on the Registry and the selection and voting process, see this link).

As we gear up for this year’s  big announcement (and this big birthday), which will happen on December 12, 2018, for the next 30 days we are going to look at 30 different films already named to the Registry, one from each year’s selection group, and we are starting with “Casablanca.”

Often cited as, perhaps, the greatest film ever made, it was without much surprise that this classic tale of Rick’s Café was among the inaugural picks by the Library of Congress for its first inductees to the National Film Registry in 1989.  Featuring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and a litany of enduring, quotable lines from its timeless script, the film would go on to win the “Best Picture” Oscar of 1943.

The late Jay Carr, a film critic and a former member of the LC’s Film Preservation Board, wrote of the film:

“It’s still the same old story. Maybe more so. ‘Casablanca’ was never a great film, never a profound film. It’s merely the most beloved movie of all time. In its fifty-year history, it has resisted the transmogrifica-tion of its rich, reverberant icons into camp. It’s not about the demimondaines washing through Rick’s Café Americain – at the edge of the world, at the edge of hope – in 1941. Ultimately, it’s not even about Bogey and Ingrid Bergman sacrificing love for nobility. It’s about the hold movies have on us. That’s what makes it so powerful, so enduring. It is film’s analogue to Noel Coward’s famous line about the amazing potency of cheap music. Like few films before or since, it sums up Hollywood’s genius for recasting archetypes in big, bold, universally accessible strokes, for turning myth into pop culture.”

See the rest of Carr’s ”Casablanca” (PDF) essay.


Title:  “Casablanca”

Year of Release:  1942

Year Added to the National Film Registry:  1989  (See all films added to the Registry in 1989)

Trivia:  Michael Curtiz directed “Casablanca” and “Casablanca” is just one of several of his films on the National Film Registry.  Some of the others:  “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “Mildred Pierce,” and “The Adventures of Robin Hood.”

This blog post is the first of 30 in our “30 Years of the National Film Registry” series which was launched to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Registry.  The National Film Registry selects 25 films each year showcasing the range and diversity of American film heritage to increase awareness for its preservation.  The 30th National Film Registry selections will be announced on December 12, 2018.


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