the reason, i think, that i was so impressed was that she had so obviously leap-frogged my own cultural stagnation, and reached back and preserved something culturally relevant, (at least if my theater-aware friends are to be believed about mr. williams), that most of us here (i'm going to presume) have forgotten, even if we ever knew it in the first place.
which brings us forward to last night, during which i became aware that an entire table full of people who are generally culturally aware in this kind of way about a lot of things, one of which would include film, as demonstrated by this same person's appreciation for gable and colbert in "it happened one night", might never have seen casablanca.
to explain my bias right up front, i'll say that i think citizen kane is a sometimes tiresome exercise in artistic brilliance that one has to study more because its good for you than because its entertaining in and of itself. i'll also say that, nodding to my friend's clark gable fetish, that gone with the wind (which these folks also had not seen) is a going-on-4-hour soap opera of inarguably-grand style and epic sweep that hardly excuses itself beyond the fact that it's a ball to watch, and there's something to be said for that, too. (though its literally going-on-4-hour--with a 222 minute running time that doesn't even include the overture music, the entr'acte music, or the exit music that goes along with it does try the seat of ones pants after awhile).
again, my bias here, but i'd say, though it's not technicolor, that casablanca is one of the most colorful black and white movies you'll ever want to see. (it's literally a ball to watch from the first cheesy opening animation to the very last fog-enhanced final "here's looking at you kid"). the writing is great, the acting is great, the directing is great, the art directing is great (etc. etc. etc.) and you can study it to death in film school (did i tell you that my degree in finance and quantitative methods from babson college is augmented by a second qualified minor in film studies, but that i chose to keep that off the diploma cuz it seemed a little non sequitur?) and be amazed at every turn, no less so than citizen kane or any number of other "good for you" films that, unlike casablanca, bore you to tears, and you'll like it even better for all that. but, let's face it, movies are entertainment as much as (hopefully more so than) they are art, and that's the beginning and end of the argument for me. casablanca is a movie you enjoy to see, and not just because bogart looks so iconic with that white dinner jacket, cigarette, and ever-emptying glass of scotch. ("of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine...")
for one thing, the entire screenplay is quotable, and not just "you played it for her, now play it for me" and "here's looking at you, kid". ("major strasser has been shot--round up the usual suspects"... "i'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here"... "you know, rick, i have many a friend in casablanca, but somehow, just because you despise me, you are the only one i trust"... "tell me, who was it you left me for? was it laszlo? or were there others in between? or aren't you the kind that tells?"... or, my personal favorite: "yvonne, i love you, but he pays me"...) of course, there are the romantic ones, too: "kiss me as if it were the last time..." "louis, i think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship"... and we can go on and on about the casting and the music and everything else.
so how is that people can live their whole lives and cheat themselves out of the experience by never getting around to it???
i don't know--i've never seen a tennessee williams play.
but i am going to make sure i share casablanca (and "to have and have not", because i love that one even better) with my friends at my first available opportunity.