Saw CASABLANCA and THE MALTESE FALCON on the big screen

Random thoughts, because after a double feature this good, that’s all I can muster:

  1. During the opening credits of Casablanca, the music briefly becomes La Marseillaise, and someone in the crowd yelled out “Viva la France!” That was my favorite audience reaction, though of course everyone in the theater was highly appreciative of Claude Rains’ moments.
  2. The 35mm film print of Casablanca was gorgeous, in great condition, though the projector lightbulb went out during the third or fourth scene (something, anyway, went wrong and caused the screen to go dark). They fixed it in about a minute, though.
  3. I enjoyed Casablanca more than ever before, and that’s saying something, since it’s always been among my ten favorite movies. I could watch it again tomorrow, it’s that good and that enjoyable. I think I’ve noticed just about everything there is to notice at this point (including the fact that if Ilsa would have explained her situation to Rick in Paris, the whole movie would have been needless), but this time I more closely observed the running gag in the opening scenes with the French officer lecturing the Italian officer.
  4. The Maltese Falcon, well-cast and well-paced as it is, really is a silly little movie. It probably suffers from being watched immediately after the endlessly rich Casablanca, but on the other hand, it’s interesting to think about how its DNA found its way into later films. Other John Huston movies, Chinatown, and many of the Coen brothers’ movies all owe a lot to it. And Sydney Greenstreet’s comedic chops are all the more apparent when projected at a theatrical scale.
  5. The Paramount showed a digital restoration of Maltese Falcon, and for most or all of the double features during this year’s Summer Classic Film Series they’ll be pairing a film print with a digital restoration to show off their new digital projector. I always prefer film when possible, but the fact is that not all movies are readily available in that format, so I’m happy to expand the pool.

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