CASABLANCA – OF ALL THE GIN JOINTS, IN ALL THE TOWNS, IN ALL THE WORLD …

Last night, we watched Casablanca. This is the pre-Academy Awards month, when Turner Classic Movies does “31 Days of Oscar.” Every night, they present another great movie. Last night, it was Casablanca, arguably the best of breed. The greatest of the great.

There are other, more exciting movies, more thrilling movies, though I find Casablanca pretty thrilling. What Casablanca gives us is the reality of war that never was, but which we want. Need. The passionately dedicated French underground. The anti-Nazi heroism of ordinary people, willing to put their lives on the line for the greater good.

“What if you killed all of us? From every corner of Europe, hundreds, thousands would rise up to take our places. Even Nazis can’t kill that fast.”

Not the way it was, but the way we wanted (maybe needed) it to be. Even now, we want the grandeur of people at their finest. Truth be damned.

And love. Undying love that lasts through war and loss, no matter what the world brings. As we watched — and we know the movie well enough to hear the line coming — Garry looked at me and I grinned back. Wait for it … wait for it … Ah, there..

“Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine…”

There’s the first of many great lines, There are many more. We went to the movies to see Casablanca on The Big Screen when TCM sponsored a release of the 1943 Oscar-winning classic a few years ago.

“We’ll always have Paris. We didn’t have, we, we lost it until you came to Casablanca. We got it back last night.”

The filming of the movie was a crazy time. The script was written — and it’s a great script — page by page. The actors didn’t know what they’d be doing any day until the pages arrived. The set was chaotic and Ingrid Bergman wasn’t happy. Bogie was underpaid — a bad contract with Warner’s he had signed before he was a big star. Casablanca went a long way to fix that. Claude Rains earned more than Bogie, and he was arguable worth it.

(Standing in front of the plane in the fog.) “I’m saying this because it’s true. Inside of us, we both know you belong with Victor. You’re part of his work, the thing that keeps him going. If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not with him, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.”

“…But what about us?”

However it happened, Casablanca is movie magic. Brilliant, witty script that plays even better on the big screen than it does at home.

“…When I said I would never leave you…”

“And you never will. But I’ve got a job to do, too. Where I’m going, you can’t follow. What I’ve got to do, you can’t be any part of. Ilsa, I’m no good at being noble, but 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. Someday you’ll understand that.”

(Ilsa lowers her head and begins to cry.)

“Now, now…”

(Rick gently places his hand under her chin and raises it so their eyes meet, and he repeats–)

“Here’s looking at you, kid.”

Maybe it’s something about how differently we focus when we watch it in a theater than when we see it at home, with the dogs, the refrigerator, and a “pause” button. A difference in the “presence” of the film. The clarity of the visual presentation.

“Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

I’m sure it was and somewhere, it still is.


DAILY PROMPT: Silver Screen — Take a quote from your favorite movie — there’s the title of your post.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

39 thoughts on “CASABLANCA – OF ALL THE GIN JOINTS, IN ALL THE TOWNS, IN ALL THE WORLD …”

  1. Ralph Bellamy: “You son of a bitch!”. Lee Marvin: “Yessir, in my case an accident at birth. You–you’re a self made man”. (Music up full) “The Professionals”.

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      1. Robert Ryan – “Looks like a whirling dervish”. Lee Marvin – “And, that Gentlemen, is the whirlingest dervish of them all”. Again, “The Professionals”. Richard Brooks directed from his own script. He’ll do.

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    1. That is one of everybody’s favorites. So much a favorite that it has become a kind of shorthand. I’m always surprised when Casablanca isn’t on someone’s “best and/or favorite” movie list. It never gets old. So what if it has nothing to do with reality? Reality is overrated anyway.

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  2. Oh those memories, I grew up with the film on and off, from a kid in the East End where I watched it with mum and dad up to today where Mr. Swiss watch it. I still think the best scene is the last where he walks into the fog and rain with Claude Rains celebrating their friendship. My son No. 2 is gifted with a sort of photographic memory if it interests him. If they do a repeat movie on the TV and he liked it, he would be saying the words before the actors said them. I am sure he would be a step ahead with Casablanca.

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    1. Garry does that when he watches. It’s like having an echo in the room. Some movies (this is one of them) he knows ALL the line, so you can hear him muttering the lines a second or two before the actors say them. Sometimes, I can do a few of the lines … but Garry can do whole movies 🙂 Mind you, Garry can’t remember anything I tell him … but he can remember every movie, who produced and directed it, the entire cast, and if it’s a favorite, most of the lines.

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    2. Ms. Swiss, Back in the early 70’s, we were still using film in TV News. I did a fanciful piece about a dreary weather day. We shot at Boston’s Logan Airport. I wore my trenchcoat and we filmed with an empty plane in the background on the tarmac. We used “As Time Goes By” (The Dooley Wilson version) as music under the entire piece. We had to overexpose the film to achieve the foggy look. In retrospect, it was a pretty hokey piece but I enjoyed doing it. Our viewers also liked it. BTW: I’m sure I’ve mentioned meeting Julius Epstein, one of the co-writers of “Casablanca” who gave me some first hand anecdotes about the making if this classic. Here’s looking at you, Kid.

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  3. I love, love, LOVE that movie! We used to go to the old Central Sq. Theater to see those great old films. I saw Casablanca, To Have and Have Not, the Philadelphia Story, all at that theater. Great films, with so much grace to them.

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    1. It is always in my top five and I think I like it even better now than I did years ago. Instead of getting old, it has gotten better. We watched Philadephia Story a couple of days ago. Another classy flick.

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    1. Garry would have known who you were talking about, but I had to look him up. He is one of those people I recognize, but never know his name. Garry knows all that stuff. It’s his thing 🙂

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  4. This is my top film of all time. I love it for all it’s imperfections. But the one thing that really annoys me are the drinks. During the space of one visit to Rick’s Cafe Victor Laslo orders, A champagne cocktail. champagne, Quantroe and cognac. No one drinks like that! And to make matters he worse – he never drinks a single one of them! All those lovely drinks just left untouched. (At least Rick knocks back a few during the film). Every time I watch the movie I think that today, maybe today, just once, Laslo will quickly down one of the drinks before moving onto the next.

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    1. Depending on where you live, maybe they will release again. They did a few years ago and we got to see it in the theater, which was great. Local art movie house or places that show classic movies show it periodically. Keep an eye out. You might have a chance. I was really surprised how good it was on the big screen.

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      1. I’m in a little city in Spain. I don’t know if I’ll have the chance, because we don’t have movie houses that show classic movies, just the last releases. Nevertheless knowing that exist the possibility I’ll be vigilant.

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  5. And the most mis-quoted quote from this movie, “Play it, Sam.” (Not, “Play it again, Sam.”) That’s probably the extent of my knowledge of movie trivia. 🙂

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  6. A very good post about a great film! I did not know some of those historical tidbits about the making of Casablanca – thanks. Claude Rains, so smooth and detached here…I LOVED him in several movies, Mr. Skeffington is probably my fav…
    Love the classics!!

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  7. Hmmm…I have never seen Casablanca somehow. From the videos you posted and the lines you quoted, its something that needs to be a little higher up on the list!

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  8. Casablanca is my favorite movie of all time. Of course I have it on DVD and watch periodically. I also have the version where Roger Ebert talks over most of the movie, explaining the scenes and various cinematic elements. I have only watched some of that so far.

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    1. I think we have a couple of DVDs of it (I think one is an anniversary version and has extra features), it being one of our top five movies too. It was GREAT seeing it in a theater on a big screen, almost a different experience. There is something about The Big Screen that really does change the experience.

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