Probably the most quoted movie ever to come out of the hey-days of Hollywood, ‘Casablanca’ is an extraordinary movie. (photo courtesy Normal Theater)
By Dawn Riordan
Of all the top ten lists by all the top ten critics in all the world, ‘Casablanca’ is always, well, at the top.
Forgive me for re-writing a classic quote from a classic movie, but it’s true. The film is always top-listed and with good reason; it has wedged itself permanently into the American and to some extent, world pop culture as a timeless account of an unforgettable era in history when the whole world was at war. The quote I’m referring to was voiced by Humphrey Bogart, in the role of Rick in the movie - “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.” He is, of course, referring to his lost sweetheart Ilsa, played moistly by the porcelain-skinned beauty Ingrid Bergman, who has always been misquoted in the movie. She didn’t say, “Play it again, Sam”; she said “Play it, Sam. Play “As Time Goes By”.”
Probably the most quoted movie ever to come out of the hey-days of Hollywood, ‘Casablanca’ is an extraordinary movie. The true product of committee, the film was swapped to and fro by two high-profile directors, William Wyler and Michael Curtiz; it’s cast bounced around Hollywood until a few of them settled for something to do in between bigger projects; it’s script the result of three writers and a plethora of line tweakers - it’s a wonder the thing got made. But it did, and it was the tweakers who brought about some of the most quotable lines in today’s American lexicon.
From the beginning of the film, memorably quoted lines spew forth. “Round up the usual suspects,” is a line that was paid homage in the 1995 film title, ‘The Usual Suspects”. It’s also something we bandy about the theater lobby after we open the box office for ticket sales; the ‘usual suspects’ being our frequent movie goers.
And there are other lines that stick out from “Casablanca”. These are the ones that come in handy, can be used during an average day for your own movie-style satisfaction. Lines such as:
‘Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” said at the end of the film as what was actually an overdub/afterthought as the actors walk away from the camera, the set and the end of the story. You could use this line after making a plumb business deal or getting the kids to finally take out the garbage (especially if your kid’s name is ‘Louie’).
“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,” - another timeless line that would probably come in handy when trying to solve life’s problems - try it at your next staff meeting (especially if you work in a bean factory).
“We’ll always have Paris”; what a great pick-up line; any one would swoon over that (and maybe a couple of airline tickets to the city mentioned…) creating images of a fedora-ed Bogart standing on a tarmac, about to lose the love of his life.
“Play it, Sam” - often misquoted but never misused - a line that will always top the ‘best of’ lists - I don’t care how many times Arnold threatens to ‘be back’. I can think of multiple uses, but it was a timely reminder when I booked this film for another showing at the Normal Theater this weekend.
And of course, “Here’s lookin’ at you, kid,” - a line Bogart improvised on the set; good for toasts, eye-doctor visits, and the perfect vague answer for when your loved one says, “Does this trench coat make my hips look too big?”.
Captain Renault (Claude Raines) - the French prefect of police, brilliantly showing his sterling character with lines such as when he’s trying to figure out why Rick cannot return to America, he conjectures - “I’d like to think you killed someone, it’s the romantic in me”. Or when he is being held at gun-point, the gun leveled at his heart, he snorts, “That’s my least vulnerable spot!” Another fun line is in his discussion when Rick is talking about leaving Casablanca, and Renault says, “Ricky, I'm going to miss you. Apparently you're the only one in Casablanca with less scruples than I.” What a knack for the apt phrase!
Great lines, amazing cast, a fast paced story full of intrigue, espionage and romance - ‘Casablanca’ is one of the world’s most perfect movies. If you’ve never seen it on the big screen before, you have never really seen it. I can nearly guarantee you’ll see in it something you’ve never noticed before. It’s great on the big screen and it is best with a crowd.
‘Casablanca’ shows this weekend, Friday (11/2) through Sunday (11/4) at 7 pm each evening.