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Casablanca - 70th Anniversary 3-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Edition

by David Foucher
EDGE Publisher
Wednesday Mar 28, 2012
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As always, releasing a film to DVD and/or Blu-ray merely once is folly - why give away the cow when you can dole out the milk over decades? Such is the case with Warner Bros.’ "Casablanca 70th Anniversary 3-Disc Blu-Ray + DVD Combo Edition," which somehow missed the opportunity to add "Limited Edition" to its name but succeeded in purporting to be the "ultimate" version of the beloved film for fans... at least for now.

With few exceptions, however, the modern experience of "Casablanca" has been marred by inferior transfers to digital media - or, even worse, videotape. With this 70th Anniversary set, Warner Bros. has managed an undeniably brilliant 4K transfer; although it’s nearly impossible to deliver the type of deep-bass surround sound we expect from our 2012 speakers, the film’s enhanced audio is a welcome upgrade. As for picture, I worked quite hard to find the significant level of defects I’m used to experiencing when watching this film - they’re just not there. The picture will not, of course, expand to the full 16:9 ratio of your widescreen television, but it’s clear and crisp. For modern moviegoers, this is as close as you’ll get to experiencing "Casablanca" as it was in 1942.

The film is a Hollywood standard, and simply must be watched (or I’ll take your card away right now, thank you very much). It’s a period-based theatrical piece, of course, but thematically it’s relevant in any age; and as a methodology for exploring - or reliving - the days of World War II and the golden age of cinema, "Casablanca" is the gold standard. For the uninitiated, the film tells the story of a classic love triangle between cynical expatriate club-owner Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), his beautiful and principled ex-lover Lisa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) and her new husband and ideological Czech fugitive Victor Laszio (Paul Henreid). With Nazis attempting to track down Laszio, Rick’s possession of a pair of treasured letters offering the chance of escape to America pits his love for Lisa against his bitter drive for self-preservation.

As explained in a new documentary on this new set, nobody involved with making the picture in the early 1940s expected "Casablanca" to be extraordinary; it was merely a cog in the Hollywood machine that spat out hundreds of movies per year. It enjoyed an unremarkable first run, but then won the Academy Award for Best Picture - and over the ensuing decades has grown into one of the world’s most beloved celluloid stories. This combo pack includes a replica of the original poster art (fun) and a few coasters from Rick’s CafĂ© AmĂ©ricain - and it also features more than 14 hours of bonus material including documentaries, commentary and trailers. The documentaries are entertaining, but anyone who has previously purchased the Special Edition DVD, the Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray, or any number of other such products over the years, will learn little that’s new. The star of this package - and the reason to shell out $45 for it - is the brilliant new picture clarity.

Tons of special features including ::

-Commentary by Roger Ebert
-Commentary by Rudy Behlmer
-Introduction by Lauren Bacall

Two NEW Documentaries:

-Michael Curtiz: The Greatest Director You Never Heard Of
-Casablanca: An Unlikely Classic

Three Feature-Length Documentaries:

-You Must Remember This: The Warner Bros. Story [2008 Documentary]
-The Brothers Warner [2008 Documentary]
-Jack L. Warner: The Last Mogul [1993 Documentary]

Additional Bonus Content:

-Now Voyager Theatrical Trailer-Warner Night at the Movies
-Newsreel-Warner Night at the Movies
-Vaudeville Days - Warner Night at the Movies
-The Bird Came C.O.D.-Warner Night at the Movies
-The Squawkin’ Hawk -Warner Night at the Movies
-The Dover Boys at Pimento University or The Rivals of Roquefort Hall
-Great Performances: Bacall on Bogart
-You Must Remember This: A Tribute to Casablanca
-As Time Goes By: The Children Remember
-Deleted Scenes
-Outtakes
-Who Holds Tomorrow?
Carrotblanca - Vintage Cartoon
Scoring Stage Sessions
4/26/43 Lady Esther Screen Guild Theater Radio Broadcast
11/19/47 Vox Pop Radio Broadcast

Casablanca 70th Anniversary 3-Disc Blu-Ray + DVD Combo Edition
Blu-ray/DVD Combo
$64.99
http://www.wbshop.com

David Foucher is the CEO of the EDGE Media Network and Pride Labs LLC, a member of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalist Association, and is accredited with the Online Society of Film Critics. David lives with his husband and daughter in Dedham MA.

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