Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Unnecessary Sequels - Casablanca

"Casablanca" is one of my favorite movies. Aside from being one of Hollywood's greatest romances, I also consider it one of the early buddy movies. First there is the friendship between Humphrey Bogart's Rick Blaine and Dooley Wilson's Sam. They escape together as the Nazis march on Paris, taking up residence in Casablanca, Morocco. There they build a comfortable life together, with Sam as Rick's pianist. And when Rick sells his bar to Signor Ferrari, he makes sure that Sam is taken care of, receiving an ample share of the daily intake. Even Rick's relationship with Claude Rain's Captain Renault is very nuanced. It may seem that Captain Renault has the upper hand on Rick, but that is not always the case as evidenced by the scene in which Rick helps a young couple win enough money to buy their way out of Casablanca, much to Renault's chagrin. They are often pitted against each other as adversaries in the film, but as is quite clear by the finale, they are simply forced into their roles by the external pressures of their lives. In fact, they share a friendly rapport throughout the film, and although Rick says to Renault at the end of the movie that "this is the start of a beautiful friendship," they really have been friends all along. Thus the spark of the sequel, "Casablanca 2: Blood Reckoning."

A direct sequel to "Casablanca," "Blood Reckoning" finds Rick and Captain Renault together several months later fighting the Nazis in Northern Africa. More of an action/adventure/mystery/buddy comedy/revenge flick, Rick and Captain Renault, along with a ragtag band of French and Moroccan freedom fighters, launch guerrilla strikes on Nazi encampments, attack convoys, and even do battle with the Desert Fox himself, Erwinn Rommel. Partway through the film, lost and wandering in the desert, the two discover that they are not that far from Casablanca, and decide to sneak in and take up refuge. There, Rick discovers that Sam has died under dubious circumstance, and that Signor Ferrari now controls 100% of Cafe American. Through keen detective work along with Captain Renault's help, Rick learns that it was Ferrari that had Sam killed. Rick conceives of a plan to not only rob Ferrari of everything, but that also ousts the Vichy Regime from Morocco once and for all.

Neither Ilsa nor Victor Laszlo would be featured in the sequel, although they would be referred to by other characters as well as mentioned in news stories. Carl and Sascha return as employees working in Ferrari's Cafe American, and are instrumental in Rick's investigation into Sam's death. Instead of Rick having a love interest this time around, Captain Renault is lovestruck by a young Parisian woman named Amandine who finds herself stranded in Casablanca. Ultimately he has to decide between his love for Amandine and his friendship with Rick (with a very surprising outcome). This sequel boasts considerably more action than the previous film, with a very twist-filled ending that cannot be missed. People who love action/adventure with a little bit of buddy comedy and a tad of mystery, or vice versa, will love this film.

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