Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Casablanca (1942)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Casablanca (1942)

In Michael Curtiz' definitive and popular Best Picture-winning classic war-time romantic drama with many memorable sequences, filmed during WWII - and one of the most-beloved films of all time:

  • the film's major setting in late 1941 was the Vichy-controlled city of Casablanca, Morocco, where hundreds of desperate, fleeing refugees were awaiting departure, after escaping from Nazi-occupied Europe; the film's story was triggered by the murder of two German couriers (with valuable letters of transit, documents signed by Gen. Charles DeGaulle); a city-wide search was being conducted by corrupt French Police Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains) and Nazi Major Heinrich Strasser (Conrad Veidt)
  • the central gathering place in Casablanca was the popular Cafe Americain nightclub and gambling casino, where its cynical owner-manager, American expatriate Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) often amused himself by playing a solitary game of chess; although Rick had fought on the side of the Republican Loyalists during the Spanish Civil War in the mid-1930s, he also vowed that he was neutral: "I stick my neck out for nobody"
  • Rick was approached by a shady, petty crook named Signor Ugarte (Peter Lorre) regarding the stolen exit visas; he asked Rick to temporarily keep the letters of transit, fearing rightfully that he would be arrested before he could sell them; the letters would allow its holders to travel freely and escape to neutral Portugal
  • unexpectedly, Czech resistance leader Victor Lazlo (Paul Henreid) (with support from the French Underground) arrived with Rick's former lover - a vulnerable beauty named Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman); she recognized the cafe's piano player Sam (Dooley Wilson) and requested that he once again play "As Time Goes By" - ("Play it once, Sam, for old times' sake...Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By.'...I'll hum it for you. Sing it, Sam")
  • Sam delivered a rendition of the song: ("You must remember this A kiss is just a kiss A sigh is just a sigh The fundamental things apply As Time Goes By. And when two lovers woo They still say, 'I love you' On that you can rely No matter what the future brings As Time Goes By"); followed by Rick's strident interruption into the room to chastize Sam for disobedience ("Sam, I thought I told you never to play.."); he glanced over and saw Ilsa for the first time
  • later that evening after the cafe closed, Rick was depressed, despairing and self-pitying while sitting alone chain-smoking cigarettes and drinking from a bottle of bourbon: ("Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine"); he asked Sam to play a repeat performance of "As Time Goes By": ("You played it for her, you can play it for me... If she can stand it, I can. Play it!")
  • a long sequence looked at flashbacks of Rick's bittersweet memories of pre-Occupation Paris, when he and Ilsa were in a whirwind love affair; the two were interrupted by the Nazi's invasion of Paris in mid-1940: ("Not an easy day to forget.... I remember every detail. The Germans wore grey. You wore blue"); they embraced at the window as the Germans approached: ("With the whole world crumbling we pick this time to fall in love....Was that cannon fire or is it my heart pounding?...I love you so much. And I hate this war so much. Oh, it's a crazy world. Anything can happen. If you shouldn't get away, I mean, if something should keep us apart, wherever they put you and wherever I'll be, I want you to know that...Kiss me. Kiss me as if it were the last time"); she advised him to flee the city and he agreed; they decided to go together and meet up at the train station
  • just before departing at the station, Rick received a goodbye note from Ilsa: ("I cannot go with you or ever see you again. You must not ask why. Just believe that I love you. Go, my darling, and God bless you") - the ink of the note was washed away in the rain before the flashback ended
  • back in the present, Ilsa suddenly appeared in Rick's cafe doorway in a shaft of light; Rick responded with sarcasm and refused to listen to her explanations or her sympathy; Ilsa attempted to explain her past history and how she met Laszlo, but was forced to leave when she was drunkenly denounced for her trampish unfaithfulness
  • the next day, Major Strasser threatened Victor Laszlo (and Ilsa) - he vowed that he had come to Casablanca to prevent them from obtaining Ugarte's letters of transit (through Rick) in order to leave for Lisbon; Laszlo refused a bribe that he would be given free passage if he betrayed the names of members of his Underground; Strasser also added that Ugarte had died while in police custody (either by suicide or during an escape attempt)
  • during another private conversation between Ilsa and Rick, she divulged the well-kept secret that Victor was her husband all along, even in Paris when with Rick, although at the time, she thought he was dead; a subdued and speechless Rick was stunned; it was his first knowledge that she was married during their aborted affair in Paris
  • when asking to buy the transit letters by the desperate fugitive Laszlo for 200,000 francs, Rick refused to sell them, telling him that there was a reason for his denial: "There is! I suggest that you ask your wife"
  • in the cafe, German soldiers (and Major Strasser) took over Sam's piano and were singing a German Nazi song Die Wacht am Rhein ("The Watch on the Rhine"); Laszlo defied the Germans by ordering the band to play the French national anthem La Marseillaise; Rick nodded to the band leader to permit its playing; a memorable duel of national anthems followed, with the crowd joining in to sing and drown out the Germans' anthem - with tears in her eyes, Rick's ex-girlfriend Yvonne (Madeleine LeBeau) gave her own proud reaction by shouting out: "Vive la France!"
  • outraged, Strasser promptly instructed Renault to punish the cafe's patrons and close down Rick's place before storming out, on the convenient grounds that people were having "much too good a time"; Capt. Renault closed the saloon, hypocritically blaming it on illegal gambling, but then he accepted his gambling winnings AFTER closing the cafe down, and gave a sarcastic exclamation: ("I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here")
  • fearing that her husband Victor might be imprisoned or killed, Ilsa decided to take matters into her own hands; while Laszlo was attending an evening underground meeting, Ilsa went to see Rick to obtain the letters - it would be her second late-night appearance to Rick; she begged him for the visas he possessed for "any price" - documents that would enable them to fly to neutral Lisbon and then on to America; Rick continued to steadfastly refuse to help, and she accused him of being a self-pitying coward; when reasoning failed, Ilsa demanded the letters of transit from Rick while holding a gun on him: ("You want to feel sorry for yourself, don't you? With so much at stake, all you can think of is your own feeling. One woman has hurt you and you take your revenge on the rest of the world. You're a, you're a coward and a weakling. No. Oh Richard, I'm sorry. I'm sorry, but, but you, you are our last hope. If you don't help us, Victor Laszlo will die in Casablanca")
  • then, she realized that she couldn't shoot Rick, and they moved together to embrace - rekindling their love for each other: ("Richard, I tried to stay away. I thought I would never see you again, that you were out of my life. The day you left Paris, if you knew what I went through. If you knew how much I loved you, how much I still love you"); soon after, she confessed: ("I can't fight it anymore. I ran away from you once. I can't do it again. Oh, I don't know what's right any longer. You have to think for both of us. For all of us"); she promised that she would go anywhere and do anything for him, and although confused, she admitted that she was passionately in love with Rick, enough to re-pledge her love and consent to living there in Casablanca with Rick; she asked for him to make decisions for both of them
  • when Ilsa and Rick learned that Laszlo had fled from the underground meeting to the cafe for refuge, Rick arranged for Ilsa to leave the cafe and sneak back to her hotel room; with a self-sacrificial offer, Lazlo asked for Rick to use the letters of transit to take Ilsa away from Casablanca to a safe location - as a favor to him, while Laszlo would remain in Casablanca and take his chances; suddenly, French gendarmes burst in through the cafe doors and arrested Laszlo
  • the next day, Rick tricked Capt. Renault into releasing Laszlo from jail; Rick made the claim that he would be leaving Casablanca and running off to Lisbon (and America) with Ilsa, and didn't want Gestapo or police interference; the deal would be to frame Laszlo on a bigger charge (of possessing the letters of transit) that would betray the Resistance leader to the police and keep him "in a concentration camp for years. It would be quite a feather in your cap, wouldn't it?"
  • then, Rick sold his cafe to rival Blue Parrot cafe owner Ferrari (Sydney Greenstreet) to prepare for his departure to Lisbon (and America) with Ilsa; the main dramatic question remained: Would Rick use the letters for himself and his lost love, or not?
  • the film climaxed with all the principal characters at the Casablanca airport, on the rainy, foggy airstrip in North Africa; in the film's final farewell scene between trench-coated Rick and Ilsa, he told her: "Here's lookin' at you, kid"; he made a decision and noble sacrifice to give up the love of his life, and let Ilsa leave with her freedom-fighter husband Victor on an airplane bound for Lisbon: ("If that plane leaves the ground and you're not with him, you'll regret it...Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life...We'll always have Paris. We didn't have - we'd - we'd lost it until you came to Casablanca. We got it back last night...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. Now, now. Here's looking at you, kid")
Airport Farewell: "Here's lookin' at you, kid"
  • Rick also explained to Laszlo that previously he and Ilsa were in love in Paris, but presently, she had only pretended that she was still in love with him in order to obtain the letters: ("She tried everything to get them, and nothing worked. She did her best to convince me that she was still in love with me, but that was all over long ago. For your sake, she pretended it wasn't, and I let her pretend"); cleverly, Rick was able to clear Ilsa of any adulterous guilt; in his fabricated explanation, she had come to him only to strengthen her marriage and to save her husband; Laszlo responded: "Welcome back to the fight. This time, I know our side will win."
  • Major Strasser arrived just as the Lisbon-bound plane was about to depart; Rick shot him when he attempted to halt the plane on the runway; Capt. Renault made two pronouncements to protect Rick from being blamed for the shooting murder of Major Strasser: "Major Strasser has been shot"; then he paused for a tense moment and ordered: "Round up the usual suspects"; he demonstrated his own anti-Nazi, pro-Allied prejudices by tossing a bottle of Vichy water into the trash
Rick's Shooting of Major Strasser at the Casablanca Airport
  • the film concluded with the camaraderie of Renault and Rick, and Rick's closing line to him: "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship" as the two walked off the foggy tarmac to an uncertain and unknown future away from Casablanca - at the Free French garrison at Brassaville in French Equatorial Africa

Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) - During a Solitary Chess Game in His Cafe Americain Night-club in Casablanca

Entrance of Victor's wife Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) into Rick's Cafe

Depressed, Rick Drinking Alone

Flashbacked Memories of Paris with Rick and Ilsa

Ilsa's Goodbye Note to Rick Blurred and Washed Away by the Rain

Ilsa Holding a Gun on Rick and Demanding the Letters of Transit Before Surrendering to Kisses

Capt. Renault: "Round up the usual suspects"

Rick: "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship"


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