Last night, we watched Casablanca. We watch a lot of old movies, but 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 immersion into the war where the passionately dedicated French underground is fighting for freedom and the world is full of 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 — arguably 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.)
(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.