Since the first silent films were released to the public, romance and love stories have been at the center of the medium. “The Kiss”, made in 1896, was an 18-second film of the end of the Broadway musical “The Widow Jones.” As is true with each genre of movies, there have been debates among audiences and critics about the greatest film love story of all time.
Among the most widely regarded lists of best films are those from the American Film Institute. Its “100 Years of Film, 100 Movies” is a cornerstone of conversations about great films. “Citizen Kane” directed by Orson Welles, has been at the top of this list for most of the time the list has existed. Welles also starred in “Citizen Kane”, which was made when he was 25. Welles went on to make another movie on the AFI list–“The Third Man”–released in 1950.
Second on the AFI list of the 100 Greatest moves, behind Citizen Kane” is “Casablanca” released in 1942. It also ranks No.1 on the AFI list of “The 100 Greatest Love Stories Of All Time.” The lead character in the movie, nightclub owner Rick Blaine, is played by Humphrey Bogart. He tops the list of male stars on the AFI “The 50 Greatest American Screen Legends”.
Bogart starred in two other movies on the AFI list of 100 Greatest Films. These are “The Maltese Falcon” (1941) ranked 23rd and “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (1948) ranked 30th.
“Casablanca” also starred Ingrid Bergman, who plays Rick’s love interest Ilsa. Bergmanranks 4th on the female list of “The 50 Greatest American Screen Legends”.
“Casablanca” is not just considered a tour de force today. It won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Michael Curtiz was selected as Best Director.
“Casablanca” also places high in other rankings of films. MetaCritic gives it a score of 100. Its score by critics at film review site Rotten Tomatoes is 99%. Among audiences polled a the same site, its figure is 95%.
Famous film critic, Roger Ebert summed up some of the sentiments of audiences, for a film which is now eight decades old, but an enduring classic:
Seeing the film over and over again, year after year, I find it never grows over-familiar. It plays like a favorite musical album; the more I know it, the more I like it. The black-and-white cinematography has not aged as color would. The dialogue is so spare and cynical it has not grown old-fashioned.