There is nothing new that I can honestly add in the praise of Casablanca, arguably one of the greatest films ever made. So in case you have been living under a rock, the Academy Award winning Casablanca is a story about political espionage and romantic interlude that is set against the backdrop of World War II. It is an exciting story where Humphrey Bogart sets the standard as the tough-minded hero and Ingrid Bergman with her warmth and tenderness. With a host of great supporting actors – Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Paul Henreid, Peter Lorre, and Sydney Greenstreet – Casablanca doesn’t seem to miss a beat. Though what is most remarkable about the film during the production process was that no one, not even the writers, knew exactly how the film would end. Was Ilsa (Bergman) supposed to stay with her husband or was she supposed to run off with Rick (Bogart)? Spoiler alert! Bogart doesn’t get the girl but everyone can appreciate and identify with Rick and Ilsa’s ill-fated love affair.
Over the years since its release in 1942, we have all come to adore this timeless classic and we will still be talking about in fifty years from now. Why ? Because it has managed to weave itself into the fabric of our culture and being with such great affection. Casablanca will go down in Warner’s history as arguably its quintessential picture, encapsulating the spirit of great romance, patriotism, intrigue and idealism.
Funny enough, all these attributes are best remembered in a dozen or more instantly recognisable scenes and quotes. In fact, many of them are so iconic that for example the mere mention of “Here’s looking at you, kid” and “We’ll always have Paris” without fail conjures up images of Rick (Bogart) and IIsa (Bergman) in Casablanca; or who could ever forget hearing As Time Goes By played for the first time, as IIsa insists that Sam (Dooley Wilson) play it for her, only for an infuriated Rick to storm by the piano to put a stop to a sore memory. Equally unforgettable is, only a few scenes later, a devastated Rick who sits alone with Sam as he hits the bottle and says, “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.” However Bogart and Bergman are not the only scene stealers in Casablanca, some of my favourite memorable scenes revolve around Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains). One scene in particular always comes to mind when Renault must shut down Rick’s bar for illegal gambling. When Rick asks Renault “How can you close me up? On what grounds?”, Renault sarcastically replies “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” Seconds later he takes his cut of the winnings from a croupier. Scenes like that whether they are comedic or heartbreaking have made Casablanca (and if I have to say it again) a timeless masterpiece.
Photo credit: The header image is a production still from the film Casablanca (1942) is courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures. I make use of the images under the rational of fair use. It enables me to makes an important contribution to the readers understanding of the article, which could not practically be communicated by words alone by placing the key characters of the film, played by actors Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman into the frame. I am not the uploader of the YouTube clip embedded here.
I originally wrote a different version of this article for Sean Munger’s website. You can view it here.