(Dir. Michael Curtiz) (1942)
We recall this classic-of-classics in the wake of the horror in Paris. The soccer fans leaving the bombed-out stadium did it: Marchons, marchons! Qu’un sang impur Abreuve nos sillons ! (Take note, Australia: La Marseillaise – now, that’s a national anthem for you).
And in the best ‘B’ film ever made*, Paul Henreid leads the band and crowd in Rick’s Café in a rousing version, drowning out nasty Conrad Veidt’s Teutonic warbling.[*David Shipman (“The Great Movie Stars”) called Casablanca “probably the best bad film ever made”].
What a cast – Humphrey Bogart as Rick (nationality: drunkard – disposition: noble), Ingrid Bergman (his luminous ex-flame, Ilsa), Paul Henreid perfect as driven and brave anti-fascist crusader Victor Lazlo, Claude Rains as the silky, unscrupulous and ultimately patriotic French Captain, Conrad Veidt (magnificently haughty and menacing as Major Strasser), Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, Dooley Wilson, et al) – and what a script. Director Curtiz gets the look just right, doesn’t fuss too much with the plot, lays into the Nazis at every opportunity and lets a hail of killer lines do the work:
“I came to Casablanca for the waters.” “But there are no waters.” “I was misinformed.”
“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world…she walks in to mine.”
“You despise me, don’t you?” “If I gave you any thought, I probably would.”
“I don’t object to a parasite; I object to a cut-rate one”.
“Here’s looking at you, kid.”
“We’ll always have Paris”
“You’ll have to think for both of us.”
“It doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”
Captain Renault is “just like any other man only more so.”
“I told my men to be especially destructive.”
“Round up the usual suspects.”
“I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”