Thursday, July 17, 2008

The enduring effect of Casablanca

After the showing of Casablanca last night, I bumped into Barrie Robbins-Pianka who told me she had scored a hat trick last night in Middletown, attending three important events in a very busy Wednesday evening. Barrie had run in the Not Your Typical 5K Road Race on and around Main Street. She had attended a part of the contentious informational meeting about the proposed construction of an Army Reserve Training Center in Westfield, and she made it to the Goldsmith Family Cinema to see Casablanca.

I only made two out of three (knowing the Westfield contigent was a powerful voice in City Hall).

At the Wesleyan film center, actor, and friend of Wesleyan, Edward Herrman gave some interesting insights into the film we were about to see. Herrman, who first saw the film in New York City in 1971, at a time he described as "most cynical" and full of antipathy for anything that was associated with "the establishment." To his own astonishment, in a revival movie house filled with marijuana smoke, he was among an audience who fell in love with a film that is admittedly romantic, idealist and, in fact, patriotic. Herrman read from screenwriter Howard Koch's book on the film (and who better than Herrman to read in his sonorous baritone), which seems to indicate that the film that emerged from a chaotic film process has turned into a classic which still works its magic on an audience.

On this evening, laughter and applause filled the room. I sat rapt, thinking once or twice in amazement, that this old relic once again had me by the neck.

Here's looking at you kid.

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