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No contest: Bogart wins "Romance Rumble"

Posted by Ty Burr  February 20, 2013 09:41 AM

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bogart.jpgClass wins out: How about that? After the dust settled on the third annual "Romance Rumble," Humphrey Bogart in "Casablanca" stands tall as the greatest leading man in movie history, besting contenders like Steve McQueen, Harrison Ford, and Jack Nicholson, not to mention such Johnny-come-latelies as Ryan Gosling and Robert Pattinson.

Now, see, Meredith's pretty annoyed at me, because when I suggested Bogie and "Casablanca" as part of my initial 16-man squad, she mentioned that the film had won the very first Rumble, for "Most Romantic Film," two years ago. No way he could win a second time, I said, clearly underestimating the eternal charisma that makes everybody come to Rick's sooner or later. So, yes, we're screening "Casablanca" at 7 p.m. on Monday, February 25th, at Theatre 1 at the Revere Hotel Boston Common, with both Meredith and myself in attendance. And, yes, maybe I should have picked "The Maltese Falcon" or "To Have and Have Not" or "The African Queen."

But, still, how often do you get to see the single greatest product of the Hollywood studio era on a big screen? And it's not just Bogart, but the incandescent Ingrid Bergman and the heroic (and, admit it, kinda dull) Paul Henreid and all those marvelous Warner Brothers character actors, from slick Claude Rains to loyal Dooley Wilson to Peter Lorre going out in a screaming fit, his preferred mode of exit. "Casablanca" is classic Hollywood cinema firing on all cylinders, and at its center is a unique star: A prep-school drop-out who kicked around the film industry for years before he finally matured -- like a good scotch -- into the last honorable man in the movies. Come to Theatre 1 on Monday and bring a Bogart newbie. It'll be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

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Ty Burr is a film critic with The Boston Globe.

Mark Feeney is an arts writer for The Boston Globe.

Janice Page is movies editor for The Boston Globe.

Tom Russo is a regular correspondent for the Movies section and writes a weekly column on DVD releases.

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