Two Hal Wallis productions in two nights. First, Anne of the Thousand Days (1969), which I hadn’t seen before (as much as I adored “Becket” and as many Burton costume pix as I saw…), then Cacablanca (1943) for the nth time.
Having read Round Up the Usual Suspects (by Aljean Harmetz), I knew that Wallis was most responsible for “Casablanca,” along with many lucky accidents. It has to be the film with the highest number of quoted lines (the last one is the only one Wallis had some part in; “Here’s looking at you kid” may have come from Bogart). Lorre and Greenstreet really are on screen very little (and there is a “Maltese Falcon” carryover) though there separate scenes are important to the plot.
I now see that Dooley Wilson, who I learned could not play the piano, is pounding the keys a few times, but is mostly not shown from angles where his hands on the keyboard are visible.
Paul Henreid has more presence than I remember, and Bergman really is radiant. The flashback to the romance in Paris is very dangerous. She looks like she has given herself to Bogart but not that she is in love with him, but it is worthwhile for the waiting in the rain at the train station finale.
Claude Rains seems more effete and enamored with Bogart (not just the puzzle of him). His character and/or performance lift “Casablanca” to a higher level of ambiguity (than, say, “To have and to have not” which has more romantic sizzle and the same Humphrey Bogart unsuccessful trying to resist political commitment on the margins of WWII).
It is Bogart who carries the film, however. As well photographed and filled with vivid supporting characters as it is, his gamut of emotions has to be credible for the film to work. Just how wide a range is in this one role has, I think, not been appreciated (even by Harmetz, who is more focused on the studio system and war propaganda, in both instances going considerably beyond the film the making of which is her subject – and, yes, I could have lopped off as much as 50 pages of repetition and irrelevance from the book).
Richard Burton did not have to carry the later Wallis project. The title character is Anne, and Genieviève Bujold holds her own. There are fewer dimensions to Henry than that are to Rick. Bujold is not as beautiful as Bergman was and far less passive (though eventually a victim). Both Anne and Henry have one goal they press (not the same one, though the focus of both is on the succession).
The Capt. Renault here is Cardinal Wolsey, underplayed deftly by Anthony Quayle (who was not fat enough, but otherwise very convincing-more convincing than Orson Welles, who certainly was fat enough-in the anachronistic “A Man for All Seasons” mad eonly four years earlier). Both he and Anne go out with dignity (panache not being an option for them). Anne gets her way posthumously in the glory of Elizabeth’s reign, though the succession was “Bloody” Mary first (which many viewers probably do not know).
Irene Papas as Catherine of Aragon (wife # 1, the only one in the Roman Catholic view) has little to do, but does it flawlessly and sympathetically.
For cinematography, as for emotional complexity, “Anne” poses no challenge to “Casablanca” (or, for that matter, “Becket,” where the urbane sophistication detached from the main emotional bond was supplied by John Gielgud-have I stumbled on a pattern for the Wallis as an auteur claim?).