Jun 17, 2009
Casablanca at noon
Today, I took myself to see a midday showing of "Casablanca" at the Prytania. The owner, Rene, an elderly gentleman, genially collected my ticket, and proudly announced that "we have Air-conditioning in here!" As with "Gigi" the theater was packed. It's a small theater, one of the few remaining one-screen neighborhood theaters in the country I think.
I luckily got a seat across from a woman with a whimpering infant and an old lady who wheezed like she was sighing and coughing at the same time. She kept the rhythm and the baby kept the beat.
The crowd was an interesting mix, a young Pakistani woman alone eating a contraband hamburger from her purse, a few young couples, a young gay boy and his mom, both of whom walked exactly the same way, a cute gal with her Bettie Page bangs, a number of college hipsters, and, up in front, a couple celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary.
The owner introduced them to the audience, and they shared a toast of champagne. The husband announced (while his wife cowered in embarrassment) that they'd had their first date at showing of "Casablanca".
The overwhelming majority of the audience, however, was, of course, elderly. I could hear them chattering before (and some during) the movie. There seemed to be a large contingent of British scattered about for some reason. I don't know why "Casablanca" drew them out. Odd.
In fact, next to me was a tall, beautifully dressed patrician British woman, with her (New Orleanian) husband. She'd lived here, she told me, for the past 40 years but thankfully hadn't picked up her husband's accent. She told me all about her childhood during the war just outside of London and complained about the crying baby. She was also thoroughly displeased with the delay in showing the movie, but I think she was alone in that regard.
Before the movie, we were entertained first by our host who shared a story about how he'd never heard of Casablanca until the movie came out, and how not long afterward he'd been drafted and a few other anecdotes. One of his young workers had to cut him short or he'd have continued to talk forever I'm sure.
After his introduction, there were a number of vintage candy ads and then the old trailers for the upcoming films in the series: "Some Like it Hot", "King Kong" and "The Sound of Music".
But, best of all was a cartoon before the film: Bugs Bunny, in "Carrotblanca"
Of course it's a cliche to say how great "Casablanca" is, but seeing it on a big screen (with a flawless picture, by the way) I was amazed at how beautiful the photography was. There's no comparison to seeing a movie on the big screen. It had never occurred to me, for instance, how funny the movie is. There's just something about sharing it with a large audience, even if they do wheeze and cry.
And of course, who can't help but fall in love with Ingrid?