Sunday, November 29, 2009

Casablanca and Casablanca (1942) @ the Brattle

My favorite theatre The Brattle in Harvard Square (Cambridge, MA USA) happens to be situated in the same building as a restaurant called Casablanca. I have been to both places many times but always thought it would be cool to dine at Casablanca the restaurant and watch Casablanca (1942) the movie at the theatre on the same evening. The restaurant is inspired by the movie and the Brattle just happens to show that film on occassion. In talking about our mutual admiration for classic films and for the Brattle, I proposed this idea to Carlos early on in our relationship and I always had it in the back of my mind as a future date. Finally, The Brattle posted that this weekend they would be showcasing Casablanca (1942) as part of their Epstein Brothers Centennial series. This was the perfect opportunity to fulfill my dream so I gathered up a few friends, asked them to dress in their finest and we all headed over to Cambridge on a cold dreary November night to an event that I fondly dubbed "Casablanca Squared".

It was imperative that I go the whole nine yards and wear a really nice outfit that night. I was very inspired by the Ginger Rogers outfit Kate Gabrielle put together in her fabulous A Classic Movie Halloween post on her blog Silents and Talkies. I really liked the coat she listed and I had bought it a while ago from Forever 21. I dug into my closet for the rest of the pieces. I wore my Target cloche hat and gloves, my black skirt from TJ Maxx, my seamed nylons from Victoria's Secret, a pair of fabulous pumps from DSW and a white short-sleved collared shirt from H&M. This was the result:

I also wore my Robert Mitchum trenchcoat but unfortunately I don't have any pictures of that. If you want to see what the trenchcoat looks like, check out my Retro-Ware post.

We all met the Brattle got our tickets and headed to Casablanca. This restaurant has fabulous cocktails and good, albeit expensive food. I did a review about them on my food blog and it's funny to read back on it because I had said:
"It is very possible to watch the film Casablanca (1942) and then head downstairs to Casablanca to discuss the movie over drinks. I still dream of doing just that one of these days."
We did this but in reverse. It was Black Friday and with Carlos working at retail and not getting out until late, we had to go to the 9:30 pm showing of Casablanca. So we ate dinner before watching the movie.

Casablanca has these wonderful murals with different scenes from the movie. This one happens to be my favorite and I wanted to make sure we sat in front of it for our meal. I highly suggest taking a moment to stop by the restaurant's website and reading about the history of it came about.

My wonderful friends Gina, Lisa and Kevin came along. They all dressed up and looked fabulous. Check out Kevin with his fedora and his Humphrey Bogart-esque trenchcoat! This happened to be Gina's first time seeing Casablanca and I was excited to hear her reaction to the film. Lisa is my partner-in-crime and is always coming with me to various classic film showings and for that reason, and many others, she is awesome.

Carlos works with men's clothing so it is very easy for him to dress up and he always looks impeccable. Maybe I'm looking at him through girlfriend eyes, but he seemed to exude a Clark Gable quality that night. Casablanca (1942) happens to be Carlos' top-favorite film. It even beats out The Hustler (1961). He was really looking forward to sharing this film with me and I was excited to give the film the second chance I truly believe it deserved.

After our meal and our drinks, we headed to the Brattle. We sat way up in the balcony which happens to be my favorite spot in the theatre. It had been a good 7 years or so since I had seen Casablanca and back then I wasn't impressed. I've grown as a person and as a classic film buff since then so I came with an open-mind and lots of enthusiasm.

The film was wonderful. I loved watching Carlos mouth several lines of dialogue that he knew by heart. He also pointed out some of the fun goofs and squeezed my hand at various romantic moments during the film. I was very moved by the ending and got a little emotional. But who doesn't? The love story of Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) and Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) is one of the most moving in cinematic history. I thought it was interesting how both Bergman and Bogart expressed emotion. Bogart doesn't emote in his face at all and he has a veriratble stone face with only his lips in motion and the occasional brow lift. But you never once, not even for a single solitary moment question the love Rick feels for Ilsa. He expresses his emotions in his words, his actions and his gestures and in those beautiful sad eyes. Bergman has a more expressive face but she concentrated so much of her expression in those wonderful glossy eyes of hers. Her eyes spoke volumes.

I really enjoyed the cast which many have said is one of the great elements of this movie. Humphrey Bogart is just so cool and Ingrid Bergman's beauty takes your breath away. Claude Rains'  ambiguity makes you have wonderfully mixed feelings about his character. Paul Henreid's gentle expression makes you sympathize for him when really you want to hate him for keeping Rick and Ilsa apart (something Gina pointed out to me). Dooley Wilson's Sam is the epitome of loyalty and he's such an iconic figure in the movie. I have a special place in my heart for both Sydney Greenstreet and S.Z. Sakall both of whom are in my favorite Christmas classic A Christmas in Connecticut (1945). And Peter Lorre makes any film better! At one moment during the film, I heard a very familiar French voice. It dawned on me! That guy was in Pillow Talk. Marcel Dalio plays Croupier in Casablanca and the distraught Interior decorator Pierrot in Pillow Talk (1959). Ha!

This was a wonderful night and I'm really happy that it worked out so well. Thank yous go out to several folks. Thanks to Gina, Lisa, Kevin and Carlos for enthusiastically joining me to Casablanca Squared. Thank you to Mercurie at A Shroud of Thoughts for your encouragement. Thanks to Caitlin at Fire and Music for your wonderful post on the film. Be sure you take a look at Alexi's blog Ingrid Bergman Life and Films for her post on the Casablanca.


  1. Sounds like a lovely evening, made all the more fun by dressing up, and having such great friends along. I've got to go to that restaurant sometime.

  2. I am so glad that you had such a wonderful time! I cannot imagine how cool it must have been to watch Casablanca on the big screen and then go to a restaurant inspired by the film (if I'm ever in Massachusetts, I'll definitely have to go there). I think it is really cool that all of you dressed up as well. Your outfit looked smashing. And I have to agree with you about Carlos. He looked impeccable.

    Anyhow, I really enjoyed this post. You clearly love Casablanca and it is so nice that you got to see it on the big screen!

  3. You look so stylish! It sounds like you had a really great evening!

  4. First time I watched Casablanca I experienced a long string of "so that's where that line's from." Has any other film in the history of filmdom been pilfered from as much as this one? (Well, yes... Wizard of Oz and, structurally, Citizen Kane.) A remarkably solid film, considering how haphazardly it was put together.

    A great idea and well carried out. I can only imagine what you'll do next time Freaks is playing.

  5. oooo I am GREEN with envy. You guys really made this a big event. I love the outfits. I would love to see Casablanca on the big screen! I just moved from Memphis, where the historic Orpheum Theater often showed classics. Now I am in little Kingsport, TN....hope I can find a serious movie buff. Its all about football and church here. Nice blog post. Thanks for sharing your experience.


  6. The post is wonderful! (I found the link lol)
    I love your outfit, totally Casablanca!! I think it took it to "Casablanca to the 3rd"
    Your friends and bf looked great too!
    I'm so jealous- it looked like some of my favorite stuff all rolled into one!!
    hope you had an absolutely amazing time! :)

  7. What fun! I love Casablanca, & your restaurant outing & dressing up all must have made the evening very special--& you & your beau Carlos both looked great!

  8. Sounds like you had a lovely evening. I hardly ever have time to dress smartly anymore. The movie is one of my favorites, especially for Claude Rains' excellent role and how the film manages to be deathly serious, romantic, patriotic and knowing and cynical all at the same time. I love how it plays at being noir but remains idealistic, which is part of what makes it unique.

  9. That sounds like an incredible evening! I have to admit, I'm jealous -- both of your proximity to such a cool restaurant, and your opportunity to see Casablanca in what looks like a really nice theater.

    Your outfit was fabulous, by the way. Everyone in your pictures looks stunning, but you hit that classic-movie-star note perfectly!

  10. Now that's what I call a night out!
    On top of that you look absolutely smashing!

  11. Thanks for sharing this experience, Raquelle. Casablanca is my favorite movie of all time and though I have been fortunate to see it on a big screen my dream is to be able to see it one day at the Brattle, the theater where the Bogart cult got underway.

  12. I love your outfit. Especially the jacket--sooo cute! I also love Bergman's understated acting in Casablanca. It always amazes me how much she can do with her eyes. I'd never thought about how Bogie accomplishes the same feat in this movie, but now that you've brought it up, he really does.

  13. Casablanca Squared sounds like it was a ton of fun! :D

  14. Jacqueline - Do you come out to Boston often? It's worth the trip to go to Casablanca & the Brattle. And maybe also the Harvard Film Archive, Coolidge Corner Theater and some other places too!

    Mercurie - Thanks! I passed on the compliment to Carlos and he thanks you.

    Elizabeth - Thanks! It's fun to dress up.

    CrayolaThief - Ha ha. I can imagine lots of strange pairings. If I ever see Nancy Drew on the big screen, I might dress up and bring my wrench with me.

    TCManiac- I hope you can find lots of like-minded folks in your new town and a repertory house close by!

    Alexis - Casablanca to the third! I like that! Thanks for stopping by and thanks for that great Casablanca post.

    John - I had been looking forward to this for weeks and was happy with the result.

    Tommy - Claude Rains was excellent in this film and I agree that the film has a range of themes and characteristics that make it really rich.

    Caitlin - I have to thank YOU for your excellent Casablanca post. It got me even more excited for Casablanca Squared.

    Ivan - The Brattle started the Bogart Cult?! Please explain! I'm curious.

    KC - I loved the jacket too, I'm so glad that Kate Gabrielle pointed it out on her blog.

    Sarah - I wish you were there!

  15. My boyfriend and I saw Casablanca at the Brattle on Valentine's Day 2009. We purchased a "couple's admission," which got us two reserved seats, a Brattle mug and a book of classic Hollywood couples. I too, had only seen the film once before and long ago and hadn't been totally won over, but I fell in love with it the second time around. The crowd was packed with couples of all ages, laughing, crying, and swooning in unison. And they even showed a Pepe Le Pew short beforehand! It was a great evening. Oh how I miss the Brattle!


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