Casablanca: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition Michael Curtiz

Casablanca: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition Michael Curtiz
At this point, there's absolutely no doubt that Casablanca is a classic. Its reputation has only strengthened since it was released in 1942, and the onscreen romance between Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman is still one of the most wonderful love stories ever committed to film. Directed by Michael Curtiz, Casablanca is the story of Rick Blaine (Bogart), the owner of a nightclub in the Moroccan port. With the onset of World War II, Casablanca has become a haven for people trying to escape Nazi-occupied Europe or get their hands on papers to allow them to move elsewhere. Rick's club sees a mix of both, plus both Nazi and Allied officials, but when an old flame, Isla Lund (Bergman), shows up with her new husband, who just happens to be on the run from the Germans, things get complicated. Casablanca isn't an obvious romantic movie ― the wartime setting brings with it suspense and intrigue that initially seem out of place. But as the story develops, the tone changes and once Sam is asked to play "As Time Goes By," there's no doubt what the movie is about. Bogart was never better than when he was playing Rick, with the perfect balance of coolness and vulnerability, and Bergman has a sophisticated allure that makes the relationship between the duo so very plausible. Add to that the most perfect ending that Hollywood has ever produced and it is clear why Casablanca has such a timeless quality. Quite simply, it's a superb film. At the moment, it's only possible to get this new version of the movie in a box set. The transfer is definitely the best one to date, even if it isn't a huge step up from the previous Blu-Ray version. The set does come with an incredible collection of extra material; it is hard to believe that there will ever be a more comprehensive edition of Casablanca than this. First of all, the box also houses a hardcover book of behind-the-scenes photos and other publicity materials, a reproduction of the original French movie poster and four drink coasters that are supposedly from some of the establishments in the movie. While none of these bits and pieces in the set are worth the price of admission individually, there isn't anything that feels like it's there just to take up space in the box. But it's the exhaustive number of documentaries that make this edition a must-buy for fans ― there is more than 13 hours of extra stuff in total, although quite a bit of it's not in hi-def. The first Blu-Ray focuses on the movie, with documentaries centring on Bogart, the career of director Curtiz and Casablanca from every possible angle, including a television adaptation, a Bugs Bunny cartoon, a commentary track by Roger Ebert, a radio play featuring the original movie cast, plus some more odds and ends. The second Blu-Ray is dominated by the massive You Must Remember This: The Warner Brothers Story, which clocks in at nearly five hours. Narrated by Clint Eastwood, it covers pretty much everything the studio did from its inception in the '20s up to the Harry Potter movies. Add to that another two-and-a-half hours about the actual Warner brothers and it becomes clear that nothing at all has been overlooked. This is one of the most impressive box sets available and an absolutely essential purchase. (Warner)