Ultimate Collector's Edition, Collector's Edition
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Casablanca: easy to enter, but much harder to leave, especially if you're wanted by the Nazis. Such a man is Resistance leader Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), whose only hope is Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), a cynical American who sticks his neck out for no one - especially Victor's wife Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), the ex-lover who broke his heart. Ilsa offers herself in exchange for Laszlo's transport out of the country and bitter Rick must decide what counts more - personal happiness or countless lives hanging in the balance.
Winner of three Academy Awards including Best Picture, the Casablanca Ultimate Collector's Edition marks nearly 70 years as a beloved favorite with many bonuses that no matter how often you've viewed the film itself - this gift set provides a most compelling reason to foster a whole new beginning of our continuing friendship with this unforgettable classic.
Included in this very special edition of Hollywood's most unforgettable classic is a bonus disc of the featurette "Jack Warner: The Last Mogul" - a rare glimpse into the public and private life of one of the most respected names in the entertainment industry.
If you think that an old film can't benefit from Blu-ray, take a look at Casablanca. Already remastered and looking great through Warner's Ultra-Resolution process back in 2003, the film on Blu-ray is even more sharp and vivid, from the creases on Humphrey Bogart's world-weary face to the delicate wisps of hair around Ingrid Bergman's. The excellent bonus features are retained from the two-disc DVD (and the HD DVD): commentary tracks by Roger Ebert and Rudy Behlmer, documentaries on Bogart and the film's anniversary, brief outtakes, production notes, memories from the stars' children, and the premiere episode from the short-lived 1955 television show.
New to this edition on a standard DVD, not a Blu-ray disc (presumably so it can be in the Ultimate Collector's Edition DVD as well) is Jack L. Warner: The Last Movie Mogul, an hourlong documentary from 1993 about the youngest and most powerful Warner brother, partly about the rise of the studio and partly how Jack took control of it. The history of Warner Brothers mirrors the history of film, from its silent days to WB's introduction of The Jazz Singer as the first talkie. The studio then developed its own style over the years, with gritty pictures and gritty stars--Cagney, Robinson, Bogart--that seemed to reflect Jack himself, then faced the crises of World War II and Communist blacklisting. Interviews with family members, industry insiders, and actors provide insight into a man who played a tremendous role in shaping the industry and also into an era of that industry that will never be duplicated.
The rest of the Ultimate Collector's Edition is less important than the film and features, but still beautifully presented: 10 postcards of original poster art, reproductions of studio letters pitching Bogart as the ideal romantic hero for the project, a photo book with stills and more art (and text from Behlmer, presumably from his book), a passport holder, and a luggage tag. --David Horiuchi
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The only noticeable issues with the transfer are small things that I would attribute to the master being decades old. Nothing that takes away from the film at all, and still much better than some of the imperfections you see watching a movie in the theaters near the end of its run.
The only hangup I have is with the aspect ratio which is why this release gets 4 stars instead of 5. Casablanca was shot in 1.375:1 (sometimes abbreviated to 1.37:1). 'Widescreen' in movies didn't come around until about 10 years later. This release is in 1.33:1, which is your standard 4:3 non-widescreen TV ratio. Because of the cropping you lose about 2-3% of the image (depending on how it was cropped). Granted, you'd be hard-pressed to notice a big difference without watching them side by side, but I would think they could have done a little better with a new release. The Blu-ray release is advertised to be in the full 1.37:1 ratio.
With the exception of the cropping, it's a good copy and I'm mostly happy with it.