by Julian Spivey
Fathom Events and Turner Classic Movies offered up the chance of a lifetime for true classic film buffs when they brought “Casablanca,” named by the American Film Institute as the second greatest American film of all time, to theatres across the nation for one night only in celebration of the film’s 70th anniversary.
The 70th anniversary showing was shown locally at the Cinemark Towne Center in Conway, Ark. on Wednesday (March 21) at 7 p.m. and offered this film buff an opportunity that he thought he’d never get to cherish … seeing Michael Curtiz’s 1942 Oscar best picture-winning film, starring the legendary Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, on the big screen.
I had seen “Casablanca” before, as any true film buff should, twice in fact, but seeing in on the big screen in its original aspect ratio was like seeing it for the first time. Despite the film obviously not changing from the first to third viewings it was indeed better than the first two times I had seen it, which is really saying something as I already agreed with it being one of the greatest films ever made.
Why was it better? It’s one of those things that I just can’t put into words (probably because I’m in the middle of a small writer’s block), but I’m sure it had to do mostly with it being a big event shared with a theatre full (well, fuller than I expected) of fellow cinema lovers and a potential once in a lifetime opportunity.
It was such a once in a lifetime opportunity that dedicated fans came from over 100 miles away just to see the film on the big screen. My father, who is not nearly the classic film buff that I am, but is quite the Humphrey Bogart movie buff, came all the way down (along with my mother) from the Mountain Home, Ark. area, a good three hour drive away from Conway and paid for a hotel room to stay overnight just to see “Casablanca” in its natural glory. Conway was the closest showing of the film from where they lived, and one of only three showings in Arkansas.
That’s the type of film that “Casablanca” is … it’s can’t miss.
I’d love for the local theatre here in Conway to show other classic films on the big screen for us movie lovers to see. Imagine seeing Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane” or Victor Fleming’s “Gone with the Wind” on the big screen. Imagine how breathtaking those would be, or “The Wizard of Oz” or “Singin’ in the Rain” or “The Searchers.” You could go on and on …
One classic that I’d love to see on the big screen is David Lean’s 1962 classic “Lawrence of Arabia” … the desert is so breathtakingly beautiful on the small screen just imagine its wide expanse on the gigantic screen. This is that film’s 50th anniversary, so what better time than now, right?
Seeing those films on the big screen would be to quote another Bogart film “The Maltese Falcon,” the stuff dreams are made of. But, for now those other films will have to remain just that, dreams. Thanks to Fathom Events and TCM, though, at least one dream did come true.