Casablanca: Michael Curtiz knew enough to don’t use anything to distract from the story he had at his hands (or maybe it was the happiest of accidents, not that it matters either way): the film has not aesthetic frills (which doesn’t mean it’s not a fine piece of film craft: Arthur Edeson’s cinematography is efficient, Orry-Kelly’s gowns are incredible, as are Carl Jules Weyl’s sets). Not to mention, of course, all the songs used throughout (some scenes are as stirring as they get because of the use of music). What really matters is the story, and it’s famously good (great romance, great intrigue), the dialogue is sparkling. The cast is simply perfect for this one, from the smaller roles (no one else could play the characters that Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet play) to the larger ones (Claude Rains is incredible; there’s a reason Humphrey Bogart made a career out of playing the soft-hearted cynical; Ingrid Bergman was never prettier and rarely as good as in this vehicle). There aren’t many films that are perfect, but this is one of them.