Casablanca – 80th Anniversary Edition (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

The immortal classic and one of the best stories ever captured to celluloid in the film medium turns 80 this year. Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman has found audience and love with every passing generation. To celebrate its milestone birthday, Warner Bros will be debuting the film on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray for the very first time. Included with the release, in addition to a digital copy, are a host of commentaries, featurettes and more to load up your passion for wanting every piece of Casablanca you can feast your entertained eyes on. The film arrives on the format on November 8th and you can order a copy from the paid Amazon Associates link that follows the review.



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.

Michael Curtiz has an insane resume for his career. Not only just in length, but the amount iconic staples for the medium, the star performances he directed and the artful touches he brought forth in the era of the workman director. While many of his films can be reflected as all timers or significant pinpoints in film history, Casablanca remains his most eternal. A fantastic story that pulls from almost every genre’s elements to culminate in such a lightning in the bottle effort of technical prowess, engaging story and characters, and performances that would echo for a lifetime.

That lifetime turned into the film entering the pop culture lexicon in some of the most incredible capacity any film has ever seen. Not only a success critically, financially and with hardware acquisitions (Winner for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay), the film entered everyone’s vocabulary and discussion. The film is one of the most endlessly quoted ones to the point where lines said in this movie are just normal everyday life with many a generation likely not knowing where it came from. And with both film and television the film has been endlessly parodied or given homage thanks to its memorable performances and visuals.

Inspiration came to many a filmmaker from the film that would continue to ripple, like the quotables, through to artists who may not realized their work is an extension or evolution of what Casablanca set a precedent for. From the white jackets worn by James Bond or Indiana Jones to the Cantina scene in 1977’s Star Wars, the film has created or influenced all sorts of walks of film life no matter the genre. The filmmakers that came after most definitely hold this film to the highest of degrees. This recent viewing had me recognizing how much this film has informed Steven Spielberg in his technical craft for just how to visualize a scene with framing, blocking and camera movement. You’ll also notice he treats the characters and performances of the Nazis (Heck there’s even plenty of Renault in Belloq) in his Indiana Jones films, very similar to the ones we meet in Curtiz’s Casablanca. This isn’t just limited to him as the likes of De Palma, Scorsese and loads from the film brats of the late 60s and 70s can showcase in their work.

Many films will always play great when you revisit them, but few will magically whisk you away like Casablanca does. Everything here doesn’t have to land perfectly, but it does so and then some. Michael Curtiz is more of an artist than some may realize, but this film is “the one” to truly showcase that the man was a standout among workhorse directors and a master among the best of all time. The story, the characters and the performances sweep you away like no other, as does some of the suspense and slight mystery. Casablanca is beautiful, bold and timeless and worthy of its spot o n the pedestal of truly greatest films of all time.


Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review from the standard Blu-ray, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Casablanca, to the surprise of no one, looks excellent on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray. The film moves so confidently and now showcases an even more defined image than one could have imagined. Like many classic black and white films when coming to 4K, the tone of the blacks, whites and grays take on a whole new look and have a much more rich, silver screen appearance to them. More textures, patterns and such are easily visible. Personally, this leaves little room for complaints on this highly anticipated title.

Depth: Depth of field improves wonderfully here in the image as there’s much more pushback and space felt in the frame. Camera movements are super smooth and natural that really help the dynamic and spacing be felt even more than ever.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and natural and really paint the picture of the film better than they ever have. They craft some excellent contrast to really define the sharpness and texture of the image. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: N/A

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are black/white/gray with good saturation and consistency from the start to the finish of the film. Facial features and textures come through better than ever and are cleanly discernible from any reasonable distance in the frame.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.


Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA, French 2.0 Mono Dolby Digital, German 2.0 Mono Dolby Digital, Italian 2.0 Mono Dolby Digital, Spanish (Castilian) 2.0 Mono Dolby Digital, Japanese 2.0 Mono Dolby Digital, Spanish (Latin American) 2.0 Dolby Digital, Czech 2.0 Mono Dolby Digital, Hungarian 2.0 Mono Dolby Digital, Polish 2.0 Mono Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, German SDH, Italian SDH, Spanish (Castilian), Netherlands, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Spanish (Latin American), Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Romanian

Dynamics: Casablanca retains its lossless mono track that arrived with the Blu-ray release many moons ago. And that’s a fine choice as it very much still holds to today’s standards. The mix has some surprisingly modern nuance as well as good clarity and depth in its presentation. With this being a highly regarded film and successful film since its release, the source materials have been kept in good shape and are able to continue to showcase a great touch while also capturing the genuine moment of the era.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Vocals are crisp and clean. Only a faint analog hiss remains underlaying the vocals.


Casablanca – 80th Anniversary Edition comes with the previously releases 70th Anniversary Edition standard Blu-ray and a redeemable digital code. Aside from the commentaries and Lauren Bacall introduction, bonus features are found on the standard Blu-ray disc.


Audio Commentary

  • By Roger Ebert
  • By Rudy Behlmer

Introduction By Lauren Bacall (HD, 2:09)


Audio Commentary

  • By Roger Ebert
  • By Rudy Behlmer

Introduction By Lauren Bacall (HD, 2:09)

Warner Night at the Movies

  • Now, Voyager Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2:19)
  • Newsreel (SD, 2:19)
  • Vaudeville Days (SD, 20:18)
  • The Bird Came C.O.D. (SD, 7:43)
  • The Squakin’ Hawk (SD, 6:41)
  • The Dover Boys at Pimento University (SD, 8:58)
  • Casablanca

Behind the Story

  • Great Performances: Bacall on Bogart (SD, 1:23:27) 
  • Michael Curtiz; The Greatest Director You Never Heard Of (HD, 37:20)
  • Casablanca: An Unlikely Classic (HD, 34:59)
  • You Must Remember This: A Tribute To Casablanca (SD, 34:38)
  • As Time Goes By: The Children Remember (SD, 6:45)

Additional Footage

  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 1:40)
  • Outtakes (SD, 4:58)
  • Who Holds Tomorrow? (SD, 18:37)


  • Scoring Stage Sessions (HD, 15:22) – Knock On Wood Alternative Version, As Time Goes by Part One Alternate Take
  • 4/26/43 Lady Esther Screen Guild Theater Radio Broadcast (HD)
  • 11/19/47 VOX POP Radio Broadcast (HD)


  • Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2:16)
  • Re-Release Trailer (SD, 2:52)


Casablanca will forever be cinematic perfection. And its home video releases have followed suit. Warner Bros 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray debut of Michael Curtiz’s masterpiece looks amazing on the format. The video transfer and restoration is the only difference between this and the previous Blu-ray release (included in this package). The audio remains top notch and the extras are elite with nothing really left to include. Its the perfect upgrade of an absolutely perfect movie at the perfect time of year (Great gift for the holidays).

This is a paid Amazon Associates link


Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com). He is also the Moderator/MC of the Live Podcast Stage and on the Podcast Awards Committee for PopCon (popcon.us). In the past 10 years at Why So Blu, Brandon has amassed over 1,500 reviews of 4K, Blu-ray and DVD titles.

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