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We'll always have 'Casablanca' -- on DVD

Among the myriad mysteries of Casablanca are the specifics of the deal Rick Blaine makes with Laszlo to get the freedom fighter and his wife, Ilsa -- Rick's former lover -- out of French Morocco, thick with Nazis and collaborators. If you would just as soon not know, you can skip the deleted and alternate-scenes section of the essential new two-disc special edition of Casablanca (Warner, $26.95) -- but I'm betting you won't.

Though true movie-lovers probably own one of the previous DVD versions of the 1942 drama that shows up on nearly anyone's list of the greatest movies ever made, few should resent shelling out again for this sterling upgrade. It boasts not only the best transfer yet, along with Dolby-improved mono sound, but also an astounding array of extras.

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Along with the outtakes -- which had to be outfitted with subtitles, since the audio has disappeared -- there are a number of breakdown takes (takes that were muffed or not used because of some other problem), two commentary tracks, an entertaining look-at-that companion piece by Roger Ebert and a historical analysis by scholar Rudy Behlmer.

The supplement disc includes the condensed Screen Guild Players radio production of Casablanca with Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Paul Henreid reprising their roles as Rick, the owner of the Cafe Americain; Ilsa, the old flame he never quite extinguished; and Victor Laszlo, the principled man she married. Also on the supplement disc is a true oddity: the pilot for the 1955 TV series based on the film, which resets the story during the Cold War.

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Then there are two documentaries, the excellent 1988 PBS special Bacall on Bogart and a 1992 doc made by Turner Entertainment to promote the brief theatrical rerelease, also narrated by Bacall. Also included are audio-only selections from vocalist Dooley Wilson and Max Steiner's score, a Bugs Bunny spoof called Carrotblanca, assorted production notes and such, and an interview with Bogart's son Steven and Bergman's daughter Pia Lindstrom. And for once, you are likely to watch all of it.


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