New South (Head)African church celebrates drinking alcohol. “A pool table served as the altar, adorned with bottles of whiskey and beer. Six ministers at the altar solemnly blessed the chilled jumbo bottles of beer bought by most churchgoers. A few drank whiskey, brandy or other beverages, all of them similarly blessed. The congregation sang hymns praising the positive effects of drinking. Three new Gabola members were baptized with beer which covered their foreheads and dripped down their faces.”
Even Pauline Kael called it “a movie that demonstrates how entertaining a bad movie can be":
This is a movie that has transcended the ordinary categories. It has outlived the Bogart cult, survived the revival circuit, shrugged off those who would deface it with colorization, leaped across time to win audiences who were born decades after it was made. Sooner or later, usually before they are 21, everyone sees “Casablanca.” And then it becomes their favorite movie.It is The Movie.
Curtiz was no Oskar Schindler-like saviour. Casablanca was the result of alchemy by acrimony, with the Epstein brothers supplying its snappier dialogue (“I am shocked, shocked, to learn that gambling is going on in here”), its politics coming courtesy of Howard Koch, its love story and ending fleshed out by Casey Robinson, with ad libs from the actors (“Here’s looking at you, kid”) while they stood waiting for the day’s pages to be handed over.
“Casablanca is best described as cinematic magic that occurred accidentally on purpose,” writes Rode in pointed rebuke of the film critic Andrew Sarris, for whom the picture was merely the “happiest of happy accidents” and Curtiz “the most divisive exception to auteur theory”. Auteur theory’s point-man in America, Sarris could no more countenance the idea that it might be the theory rather than Curtiz that is at fault – placing him in the “Lightly Likeable” category – than the old communist apparatchiks could conclude that their system was at fault rather than the people.