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?


ayem8y said...

Everything you said!

I too shared the Casablanca experience with a large audience at the Saenger theater a couple years ago. The audience was a little more reverent and more like fanatics about the film. Come to think of it now it was kind of scary.

mrpeenee said...

SOME LIKE IT HOT?!?!?!? You have to go, promise me. One of my favorite movies of all time. I know all the words to Runnin' Wild and will now sing it for you.

How'd ya like it?

Elizabeth said...

Ditto what penee said! It shares the title for best ending EVER with Casablanca.

MJ said...

I just went to the Prytania's web site and they're showing the "Let's All Go to the Lobby" video!

I love that!

At my local rep cinema, they have a "Crying Room" that's soundproof and separate from everyone else to seat parents and babies.

Ur-spo said...

a glorious movie, as it is about sacrifice for a higher good.
Not many people would do that nowadays, I think.

govtdrone said...

Remember the Avalon Theater in Algiers? I saw On the Waterfront there one saturday night. That was a great experience.

TJB said...

Love it (the film and your post)! Casablanca may be ever-so-slightly overrated in the canon of All Time Great Films, but what ATGF isn't? And you're so right about the breathtaking photography. It's a MOVIE, in all caps, and looks like a movie - the way the damn things are supposed to.

I've seen Some Like it Hot on the big screen a few times, and it's wonderful! A completely different experience from watching it on TV.

"You must be quite a girl."

"You wanna bet?"

Muscato said...

OMG OMG OMG The "Marseillaise" scene! Of course the ending is fabulous, but when that French doxie gets up and starts singing, I plotz.

Scooter said...

One of my favorite movies ever. It helps that Ingrid is my favorite actress.

The part where the patrons on Rick's drown the Nazi singers with La Marseillaise always gives me moves me.

larry said...

i love carrotblanca!!!