Casablanca (1942)

Major Strasser: Are you one of those people who cannot imagine the Germans in their beloved Paris?

Rick: It’s not particularly my beloved Paris.

Heinz: Can you imagine us in London?

Rick: When you get there, ask me!

Captain Renault: Hmmh! Diplomatist!

Major Strasser: How about New York?

Rick: Well there are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn’t advise you to try to invade.

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Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman

Yvonne: Where were you last night?

Rick: That’s so long ago, I don’t remember.

Yvonne: Will I see you tonight?

Rick: I never make plans that far ahead.

Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz based on Murray Burnett and Joan Alison’s unproduced stage play Everybody Comes to Rick’s. The film stars Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid; it also features Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Dooley Wilson. Set during contemporary World War II, it focuses on an American expatriate who must choose between his love for a woman and helping her and her husband, a Czech Resistance leader, escape from the Vichy-controlled city of Casablanca to continue his fight against the Nazis.

Story editor Irene Diamond convinced producer Hal B. Wallis to purchase the film rights to the play in January 1942. Brothers Julius and Philip G. Epstein were initially assigned to write the script. However, despite studio resistance, they left to work on Frank Capra’s Why We Fight series early in 1942. Howard E. Koch was assigned to the screenplay until the Epsteins returned a month later. Principal photography began on May 25, 1942, ending on August 3; the film was shot entirely at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California with the exception of one sequence at Van Nuys Airport in Van Nuys, Los Angeles.

Although Casablanca was an A-list film with established stars and first-rate writers, no one involved with its production expected it to be anything other than one of the hundreds of ordinary pictures produced by Hollywood that year.  Casablanca was rushed into release to take advantage of the publicity from the Allied invasion of North Africa a few weeks earlier. It had its world premiere on November 26, 1942, in New York City and was released nationally in the United States on January 23, 1943. The film was a solid if unspectacular success in its initial run.

Exceeding expectations, Casablanca went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, while Curtiz was selected as Best Director and the Epsteins and Koch were honored for writing the Best Adapted Screenplay – and gradually its reputation grew. Its lead characters, memorable lines, and pervasive theme song have all become iconic, and the film consistently ranks near the top of lists of the greatest films in history.

Rating 8.5 in IMDB

Watch the Trailer (just click)

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Dooley Wilson and Humphrey Bogart

PLOT:

In December 1941, American expatriate Rick Blaine owns an upscale nightclub and gambling den in Casablanca. “Rick’s Café Américain” attracts a varied clientele, including Vichy French and German officials, refugees desperate to reach the still-neutral United States, and those who prey on them. Although Rick professes to be neutral in all matters, he ran guns to Ethiopia during its war with Italy and fought on the Loyalist side in the Spanish Civil War.

Petty crook Ugarte boasts to Rick of “letters of transit” obtained by murdering two German couriers. The papers allow the bearers to travel freely around German-controlled Europe and to neutral Portugal, and are priceless to the refugees stranded in Casablanca. Ugarte plans to sell them at the club, and asks Rick to hold them. Before he can meet his contact, Ugarte is arrested by the local police under the command of Captain Louis Renault, the unabashedly corrupt Vichy prefect of police. Ugarte dies in custody without revealing that he entrusted the letters to Rick.

Then the reason for Rick’s bitterness—former lover Ilsa Lund—enters his establishment. Spotting Rick’s friend and house pianist, Sam, Ilsa asks him to play “As Time Goes By.” Rick storms over, furious that Sam disobeyed his order never to perform that song, and is stunned to see Ilsa. She is accompanied by her husband, Victor Laszlo, a renowned fugitive Czech Resistance leader. They need the letters to escape to America to continue his work. German Major Strasser has come to Casablanca to see that Laszlo fails.

When Laszlo makes inquiries, Ferrari, a major underworld figure and Rick’s friendly business rival, divulges his suspicion that Rick has the letters. Privately, Rick refuses to sell at any price, telling Laszlo to ask his wife the reason. They are interrupted when Strasser leads a group of officers in singing “Die Wacht am Rhein” (“The Watch on the Rhine”). Laszlo orders the house band to play “La Marseillaise”. When the band looks to Rick, he nods his head. Laszlo starts singing, alone at first, then patriotic fervor grips the crowd and everyone joins in, drowning out the Germans. Strasser has Renault close the club.

Ilsa confronts Rick in the deserted café. When he refuses to give her the letters, she threatens him with a gun, but then confesses that she still loves him. She explains that when they met and fell in love in Paris in 1940, she believed her husband had been killed attempting to escape from a concentration camp. While preparing to flee with Rick from the imminent fall of the city to the German army, she learned Laszlo was alive and in hiding. She left Rick without explanation to nurse her sick husband. Rick’s bitterness dissolves. He agrees to help, letting her believe she will stay with him when Laszlo leaves. When Laszlo unexpectedly shows up, having narrowly escaped a police raid on a Resistance meeting, Rick has waiter Carl spirit Ilsa away. Laszlo, aware of Rick’s love for Ilsa, tries to persuade him to use the letters to take her to safety.

When the police arrest Laszlo on a minor, trumped-up charge, Rick persuades Renault to release him by promising to set him up for a much more serious crime: possession of the letters. To allay Renault’s suspicions, Rick explains that he and Ilsa will be leaving for America.

When Renault tries to arrest Laszlo as arranged, Rick forces him at gunpoint to assist in their escape. At the last moment, Rick makes Ilsa board the plane to Lisbon with Laszlo, telling her that she would regret it if she stayed—”Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.” Strasser, tipped off by Renault, drives up alone. Rick shoots him when he tries to intervene. When policemen arrive, Renault pauses, then orders them to “round up the usual suspects.” He suggests to Rick that they join the Free French in Brazzaville. As they walk away into the fog, Rick says, “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship”.


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