Sunday, May 11, 2008


Casablanca (1942)
Directed by: Michael Curtiz
Writing credits: Murray Burnett (play "Everybody Comes to Rick's") and Joan Alison (play "Everybody Comes to Rick's"); Julius J. Epstein (screenplay) (as Julius J.) and Philip G. Epstein (screenplay) and Howard Koch
Starring: Humphrey Bogart (Rick Blaine), Ingrid Bergman (Ilsa Lund), Paul Henreid (Victor Laszlo), Claude Rains (Captain Ren-ault), Conrad Veidt (Major Strasser), Sydney Greenstreet (Signor Ferrari)

You cannot even write a sentence about this film without risking as if you have copied it. Everything possible has been written about this film, considered to be the best love story ever depicted on screen. Forget all eulogies, Woody Allen, Umberto Eco, and all, but the question remains, what is the enduring appeal of Casablanca?
Ingrid Bergman's innocent, vulnerable, mysterious femme fatale? Humphrey Bogart's tragic tough guy with a heart of gold? Paul Henreid's idealist revolutionary? Claude Rains' unflinching friendship (which today, some people may find shades of homoeroticism!)
Not actually. The greatest asset of the film is its honesty — despite the fact that you don't know what Ilsa is thinking till the end; and its crisp, straight dialogues — "Play it, Sam," — In all the gin joints in all the world, she walks into mine." — And, the chemistry between its lead players — not just Rick and Ilsa, but others, the scenes between Rick and Renault, Rick and Laszlo ooze with perfect chemistry. Otherwise, how could you believe so easily when Laszlo says, "Perhaps we are in love with the same woman."
For us in India, the film has a particular significance. In one sense, this is a mother of all triangular love stories that Bollywood is so good at dishing out.

Dialogues from the film

Between Ilsa and Rick, and "Play It, Sam"
Ilsa: Play it once, Sam. For old times' sake.
Sam: [lying] I don't know what you mean, Miss Ilsa.
Ilsa: Play it, Sam. Play "As Time Goes By."
Sam: [lying] Oh, I can't remember it, Miss Ilsa. I'm a little rusty on it.
Ilsa: I'll hum it for you. Da-dy-da-dy-da-dum, da-dy-da-dee-da-dum...
[Sam begins playing]
Ilsa: Sing it, Sam.
Sam: [singing] You must remember this / A kiss is still a kiss / A sigh is just a sigh / The fundamental things apply / As time goes by. / And when two lovers woo, / They still say, "I love you" / On that you can rely / No matter what the future brings-...
Rick: [rushing up] Sam, I thought I told you never to play-...
[Sees Ilsa. Sam closes the piano and rolls it away]
Ilsa: I wasn't sure you were the same. Let's see, the last time we met...
Rick: Was La Belle Aurore.
Ilsa: How nice, you remembered. But of course, that was the day the Germans marched into Paris.
Rick: Not an easy day to forget.
Ilsa: No.
Rick: I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray, you wore blue.
Rick: Tell me, who was it you left me for? Was it Laszlo, or were there others in between? Or - aren't you the kind that tells?
Ilsa: Rick, I have to talk to you.
Rick: [Rick is drunk] Uh-huh. I saved my first drink to have with you. Here.
[passes her a drink]
Ilsa: No. No, Rick, not tonight.
Rick: *Especially* tonight.
Ilsa: Please...
[he pours a drink]
Rick: Why did you have to come to Casablanca? There are other places.
Ilsa: I wouldn't have come if I'd known that you were here. Believe me Rick, it's true I didn't know...
Rick: It's funny about your voice, how it hasn't changed. I can still hear it. "Richard, dear, I'll go with you anyplace. We'll get on a train together and never stop - "
Ilsa: Don't, Rick! I can understand how you feel.
Rick: [scoffs] You understand how I feel. How long was it we had, honey?
Ilsa: [on the verge of tears] I didn't count the days.
Rick: Well, I did. Every one of 'em. Mostly I remember the last one. The wild finish. A guy standing on a station platform in the rain with a comical look in his face because his insides have been kicked out.
Ilsa: Can I tell you a story, Rick?
Rick: Has it got a wild finish?
Ilsa: I don't know the finish yet.
Rick: Well, go on. Tell it - maybe one will come to you as you go along.
Ilsa: It's about a girl who had just come to Paris from her home in Oslo. At the house of some friends, she met a man about whom she'd heard her whole life. A very great and courageous man. He opened up for her a whole beautiful world full of knowledge and thoughts and ideals. Everything she knew or ever became was because of him. And she looked up to him and worshiped him... with a feeling she supposed was love.
Rick: [bitterly] Yes, it's very pretty. I heard a story once - as a matter of fact, I've heard a lot of stories in my time. They went along with the sound of a tinny piano playing in the parlor downstairs. "Mister, I met a man once when I was a kid," it always began.
Rick: Well, I guess neither one of our stories is very funny. Tell me, who was it you left me for? Was it Lazlo, or were there others in between or... aren't you the kind that tells?
[Ilsa tearfully and silently leaves. Rick's face falls in his hands sadly, knowing that he's said all the wrong things]

Between Rick and Laszlo

Rick: Don't you sometimes wonder if it's worth all this? I mean what you're fighting for.
Victor Laszlo: You might as well question why we breathe. If we stop breathing, we'll die. If we stop fighting our enemies, the world will die.
Rick: Well, what of it? It'll be out of its misery.
Victor Laszlo: You know how you sound, Mr. Blaine? Like a man who's trying to convince himself of something he doesn't believe in his heart.
Rick: I stick my neck out for nobody.
Rick: I'm the only cause I'm interested in.
Rick: I congratulate you.
Victor Laszlo: What for?
Rick: Your work.
Victor Laszlo: I try.
Rick: We all try. You succeed.

A desperate Rick
Rick: Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.

Ilsa: [laughs ironically] With the whole world crumbling, we pick this time to fall in love.
Rick: Yeah, it's pretty bad timing. Where were you, say, ten years ago?
Ilsa: [trying to be cheerful] Ten years ago? Well, let's see...
[remembers, smiles]
Ilsa: Oh, yes, I was having a brace put on my teeth. Where were you?
Rick: Looking for a job.

Ilsa: Who is Rick?
Captain Renault: Mamoiselle, you are in Rick's! And Rick is...
Ilsa: Who is he?
Captain Renault: Well, Rick is the kind of man that... well, if I were a woman, and I were not around, I should be in love with Rick. But what a fool I am talking to a beautiful woman about another man.

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