Monday, February 21, 2011


It is almost mandatory to watch Casablanca at least once in one’s life. Released in 1942 and directed by Michael Curtiz, the movie stars Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. I do not know what to say to do it justice, it is such a beautiful story I was left speechless.

Rick (Humphrey Bogart, magnificent) is a bitter, cynical man who owns a café in Casablanca in 1941. The city is controlled by the Vichy government, and is a platform where people can escape Europe and go to the US. He finds himself at odds when former love Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) and her husband Victor, a pillar of the resistance, show up in his café, needing his help to escape. It has all the elements for a great movie: romance, love triangle, danger, suspense, drama, humour. Bogart and Bergman are just amazing, although I have to confess a slight preference for Bogart’s character, more subtle, deeper. Paul Henreid (Victor) plays a hero and seems pale in comparison to Humphrey Bogart. Poor guy does not stand a chance!I A fun fact: apparently Ronald Reagan was briefly considered to impersonate Rick - thankfully, briefly!

It seems the movie was filmed with a half scenario, written by the Epstein brothers, with no specific end in mind, up until the very last moment – at first the end disappointed me but, thinking about it, it was the only logical choice, and very likely what makes this film unforgettable.

I loved that there is so much subtle, clever, funny quotes in the movie, that release the tension

Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?

Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

[a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]

Croupier: Your winnings, sir.

Captain Renault: Oh, thank you very much.


Rick: And remember, this gun is pointed right at your heart.

Captain Renault: That is my least vulnerable spot.


Also, in spite of the fact that it is war time, I loved the atmosphere at Rick’s Café, to the point where I almost wish it still existed: Sam is a great piano player and the general spirit is fantastic.

On Rick’s character, I could see some parallel with Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind: a cynic, still able to show a human side. Here the similarity is obvious:

Casablanca / Rick: I'm the only cause I'm interested in.

Gone with the Wind / Rhett: I believe in Rhett Butler, he's the only cause I know


The second confrontation between Rick and Ilsa particularly caught my attention: I remember being shown this scene a few months ago as part of a class, and the only thing we were asked after was: “Did they do it?” – strangely enough not everybody agreed! The DVD supplement (narrated by Lauren Bacall, Humphrey “Bogey” Bogart’s wife in real life) tells us that all explicit sexual references have been deleted, to be just hints and innuendo.


Some more intense scenes include the scene with The Marseillaise, beautiful and very emotional, especially when placed back in the context of WWII – remember, the film was released during the war! 


The movie has an incredible amount of quotes that everybody uses at some point, some times without quite knowing where it came from:

-          Here's looking at you, kid.”

-          "Usual suspects", from Captain Renault's phrase:Major Strasser has been shot. Round up the usual suspects

-          Play it once, Sam. For old times' sake.”

-          Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine

-          And a personal favourite: “We’ll always have Paris

I just could not put every scene, every quote, every picture in this post, otherwise the entire movie would have been shown here!

To finish on a less serious note, Casablanca was such a success that it was imitated many times, without success. However, a funny version is the Looney Tunes’, Carrotblanca:

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