I was just musing about the film, Casablanca, in the thread about Ebert and then realized that the key to turning a bunch of random footage of varying quality into something really good probably comes down to the editor.
The editor for Casablanca was a man named Owen Marks:
From the brevity of his entry, I take it that no one has ever given him much love in terms of his work product. He’s just some guy who cranked out a bunch of films a long time ago.
But, a significant number of Marks’ films seem to have been top-shelf. Casablanca won three Oscars, of course.
Beyond that, though, he has three separate films that have been specially selected to be preserved in the National Film Registry:
The Treasure of the Sierra Madres
East of Eden
And, more impressively, all of the following of his movies were nominated for Oscars:
Angels with Dirty Faces
The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex
Pride of the Marines
He did do a lot of films, so maybe that’s just happenstance. But it might be worth looking through his films - if anyone’s that sort of person - just to see if it might have been him bringing the magic, more than the other people who were in those films.