There are a few films that are so famous that everyone has heard of them even if they haven’t seen them. Casablanca is one such film. It is beloved even by those who are not usually fans of classic cinema. Thanks to a great script, fabulous actors in memorable parts and well earned hype, it is an indelible work of cinematic art.
Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) is the owner/manager of a café in Casablanca, Morocco. Casablanca is a stopping place of sorts, for those fleeing war-torn Europe on their way to the United States. Rick is an American with a complicated personal and political history. His café helps entertain weary emigres as they wait for their visa papers. Rick is pretty weary himself, a cynical, hard-hearted character who “sticks his neck out for nobody.”
Though Casablanca is a free and unoccupied French territory, there is an intricate mix of politics and nationalities. The recent murder of two German soldiers in possession of incontestable letters of transit ushers in the arrival of the German Major Strasser. Strasser (Conrad Veidt) is on the hunt for the murderer. He is also tasked to ensure that Victor Laszlo (Paul Henried), a leader of the Resistance does not come into possession of those letters.
Into this delicate balance (and Rick’s Café) walks Laszlo and his companion Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman). Lazlo is an international hero seeking help to escape, but Rick isn’t inclined to be helpful. Particularly, when he sees his former love Ilsa on the arm of Laszlo. Not only is he bitter, but Rick is also caught up in a more personal game of politics with the French police captain Louis Renault which allows him to successfully operate his café. He is not willing to jeopardize his business, especially for the woman who abandoned him in Paris on the eve of the German occupation. But Ilsa has a different memory of her abandonment. When she discovers that the letters of transit which she and Laszlo need have found their way into Rick’s hands, she uses every weapon in her arsenal to get them. But not everything or everyone is as it seems in this place of shifting alliances.
To read my full review, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.
Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.