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Film / Casablanca

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Rick and Ilsa as they wish they were.

"Here's looking at you, kid."
Rick Blaine

Casablanca is a 1942 Warner Bros. wartime drama film, considered by many to be one of the greatest films of The Golden Age of Hollywood if not all time.

The screenplay was written by Howard Koch, based on the unproduced play Everybody Comes to Rick's by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison and enhanced by the brilliant dialogue of brothers Julius and Philip Epstein. The film was given to ace director Michael Curtiz, and respected composer Max Steiner wrote the music score. Early press releases claimed that Ronald Reagan and Ann Sheridan were to be the leads, but this was just the WB publicity department using an opportunity to promote those actors in the upcoming Kings Row. George Raft also made a play for the lead role, but the studio had always planned the movie as an A-list picture and never considered anyone but Humphrey Bogart for its starring role.

The setting is Casablanca, French Protectorate of Morocco from December 2–5, 1941; the city is a melting-pot hotbed of refugees from Nazi oppression who are all desperately trying to make their way to the United States — and freedom — while trying to avoid the Vichy French authorities, their German masters, and all manner of opportunistic criminals. At the center of the story is protagonist Rick Blaine (Bogart), the bitter, cynical American owner of Rick's Café Americain — which professes absolute neutrality to all, from the ruthless German commander Major Heinrich Strasser (Conrad Veidt) and corrupt, cynical French police chief Louis Renault (Claude Rains) to the various refugees and criminals who employ his bar as a convenient meeting-place for dealings of all kinds.

But Rick's claims of neutrality are pushed to the limit by the arrival of Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman), the former lover who broke Rick's heart when the Germans entered Paris, and her husband Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), a Czech resistance leader and Major Strasser's current target. Ilsa had abandoned Rick upon learning that her husband, once thought dead, was still alive; now she and Victor need his help in procuring vital "letters of transit" that will allow them to leave the country and continue to fight the good fight against the Nazis. When it is gradually made clear that Ilsa — despite being with her husband — still loves Rick, he finds himself struggling with his heart, his anger, his gradually-revived sense of idealism, and the question of whether to sacrifice this new chance at happiness to assist a cause that is greater than all of them.

As an interesting side note: in his World War II espionage history Istanbul Intrigues, historian and political columnist Barry Rubin described the eponymous City of Spies as "a real-life Casablanca".

Not to be confused with the poem of the same name.

I am shocked, SHOCKED! to find troping going on on this website!!note 

  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Turns out, Victor wasn't dead, causing much angst for Rick.
  • Accidental Adultery: Rick and Ilsa have this sort of tryst after Ilsa's husband Victor is presumed dead. She leaves Rick after Victor turns up alive, but much of the film is concerned with her being torn between the two of them.
  • Actor Allusion: Possibly, Rick's quip to Strasser that there are parts of New York which the Germans should avoid invading. One year before Casablanca, All Through the Night featured Humphrey Bogart fighting against a Nazi cell led by Conrad Veidt in New York.
  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: In the original play, Rick is arrested and sent to a concentration camp at the end. In the film, he befriends Louis and they go off to fight Nazis together.
  • Adaptation Title Change: Casablanca was based on the unproduced play Everybody Comes to Rick's.
  • Adopt the Dog: Rick tells Ilsa to stay with her husband for her own good and the good of the world, and then Louis refuses to turn Rick in for shooting Major Strasser and agrees to join the resistance. "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
  • Affably Evil:
    • Louis Renault, although this is ultimately subverted (the evil part that is, not the affable).
    • Ferrari is The Don, Rick's chief competitor, and apparently has his fingers in every illegal pie in Casablanca. He is also a Big Fun-type, and while he tries to buy both Rick's café and Sam's services, he never does anything an interested legitimate businessman wouldn't.
    • Ugarte, played by Peter Lorre, is an earnest and polite man. He is also an unrepentant thief, assassin, and human trafficker.
    • Even the Nazis are relatively affable at times. Strasser in particular is almost always exquisitely polite.
  • Affectionate Pickpocket: The guy who puts his arms around visitors and warns them about thieves while robbing them.
  • Age-Gap Romance: Ilsa is noticeably younger than Victor and significantly younger than Rick. Lampshaded in Rick’s repeated line to Ilsa (‘Here’s looking at you, kid’) and when Ilsa and Rick discuss in the Flashback what they were doing 10 years beforehand — Ilsa was getting her braces, Rick was looking for a job.
  • The Alliance: The Allies. Which they go out of their way to demonstrate.
  • All-Loving Hero: Victor Laszlo. It says something about him that the only person in the entire movie who isn't in complete awe and admiration of the utterly heroic and saintly resistance leader is the Nazi officer who has been sent to capture him, which is a ringing endorsement if ever there was one. He's so noble that he doesn't hold a grudge that his beloved wife, believing that he was dead, has fallen in love with another man, and his example is so powerful that that other man is eventually quite willing to sacrifice his one chance at happiness by convincing her to stay with him.
  • Ambiguously Gay:
    • Ugarte seems a little too desperate for Rick's approval.
    • Renault, whose "broad-mindedness" is joked about and who mentions that "if he were a woman" he would be in love with Rick — although he is a womanizer.
  • Alternate DVD Commentary: RiffTrax challenged themselves, and did a pretty good job of it.
  • Anchored Ship: Rick and Ilsa.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Ilsa gets one right after failing to shoot Rick.
  • Anti-Hero:
    • Rick was once an anti-fascist Arms Dealer who supported the Abyssinian regime in its war against Italy, and later the leftist coalition in the Spanish Civil War, with the side he backed losing miserably on each occasion. This and various personal failures led to him being exiled, whether by choice or circumstance, in "neutral" French North Africa. He does the dirty work of killing Strasser and smuggling the couple out of Casablanca.
    • Renault does a Heel–Face Turn at the end and is sympathetic and even protective of Rick throughout the film, yet at the same time it's implied he may have been involved in the killing of Ugarte. And of course, he is shown throughout to be corrupt, as well as a rake.
    • There’s subtle hints all throughout the movie that Renault is quietly sabotaging Strasser’s agenda. During the scene in his office, he tells Strasser there’s no way Rick would hide the letters of transit in his cafe after Strasser suggests a raid to get them (even though the audience knows that’s exactly where they are) and subtly reminds Victor that obliging Strasser’s offer (a visa in exchange for the names and locations of anti-fascist leaders across Europe) would be helping the Nazis destroy Europe.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • Victor Laszlo has Major Heinrich Strasser, the Nazi official tasked with capturing him for his resistance activities.
    • Averted with Ferrari. The film initially depicts him as a rather sinister character (and the fact that Sydney Greenstreet had earlier played a villain opposite Bogart in another film doesn't hurt), but by the end he turns out to be an ally, providing Ilsa and Victor with important guidance regarding the letters of transit. He is only an "enemy" of Rick's by virtue of being a business competitor who wants to buy his cafe (and he oversees illegal activities in Casablanca, which is not a major plot point and doesn't seem to bother Rick); in the end, he agrees to not only buy the cafe, but agree to Rick's terms as well, which includes giving Sam a massive raise.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • "I was with them when they blundered into Berlin in 1918." No enemy soldiers entered Berlin in 1918. The Allies had just reached Germany's western border when the war endednote .
    • The playwright invented the "letters of transit" as a MacGuffin. There were no travel passes at the time that were as powerful as described — "cannot be rescinded, not even questioned." (Rick casually defuses much of the value of the letters when he points out that if he and Ilsa used them, "We have a legal right to go, that's true, but people have been held in Casablanca in spite of their legal rights.")
  • Artistic License – Music: Dooley Wilson (Sam) was a drummer, not a pianist. It's fairly obvious.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Annina Brandel (the young Bulgarian woman trying to escape Casablanca with her husband) would be an extremely unlikely name for a real Bulgarian. In fact, it's a German name and there are barely any Germans in Bulgaria.
  • Bad Guy Bar: "Rick's Cafe Americain". But then, everybody comes to Rick's.
  • Bad Liar: Sam is terrible at it.
  • Bad Samaritan: The "vultures everywhere" guy.
  • Batman Gambit: The outcome of Rick's eventual scheme depends heavily on the characters of the people involved.
  • Being Good Sucks: All three of the primaries make (or try to make) personal sacrifices for the greater good, and as often as not, it hardly matters. They all get a roughly happy ending, but none of them get what they want.
  • Berserk Button: Apparently, the song "As Time Goes By" has become this for Rick.
    Rick: (storming halfway across the cafe) Sam, I thought I told you never to play that... (sees Ilsa sitting there)
  • The Bet: Early in the film, Rick and Renault make a 10,000 franc wager on whether Victor Lazlo will escape Casablanca, Rick for and Renault against. The bet is brought up by Renault as to why Rick may want to give the stolen visas to Lazlo. After Rick does help Lazlo and Ilsa escape, he blithely mentions that Renault owes him the money. Renault agrees to pay, mentioning that it should cover their trip to Brazzaville.
  • Betty and Veronica: Victor and Rick.
  • Big Bad: Major Heinrich Strasser, head of Those Wacky Nazis stationed in Casablanca.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Rick gets one immediately after (apparently) turning Victor Laszlo over to Renault.
      Rick: Stay where you are, Louis. I wouldn't like to shoot you, but I will if you take one more step.
    • Renault gets a subtle one himself, simply by uttering an immortal line at the opportune moment, just as it looks like Rick will be arrested for murder.
      Renault: Major Strasser has been shot. [Beat] Round up the usual suspects.
  • Big Good: Victor Laszlo. Those Wacky Nazis are willing to do just about anything, even violating Vichy "neutrality" (thus risking drawing the U.S. into the war) and letting known anti-fascist fighter Rick and Laszlo's "companion" Ilsa escape to America, if it means they can stop Laszlo.
  • Billed Above the Title: Bogart and Bergman, obviously, but also Paul Henreid as Victor Laszlo. It was compensation for having to take such a thankless role.
  • Bit Character: The Bad Samaritan who appears during the opening of the film, describes the city as a Wretched Hive to some tourists ("vultures, vultures everywhere"), and vanishes with the tourists' wallet. He appears in a later scene in the bar, up to his old tricks again.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Rick lets Ilsa leave with Victor and is forced to leave Casablanca for his role in the pair's escape. On the bright side, Victor and Ilsa are able to get away from Casablanca to continue to lead the fight against the Nazis for the resistance, and Rick has his sense of idealism revived.
  • Blatant Lies: According to Sam he doesn't know where Rick is, he hasn't been in all night, he spends a lot of time at Blue Parrot and he forgot how to play "As Time Goes By". Apparently he used to be a better liar.
    • Captain Renault is more practiced..
      Captain Renault: By the way, last night you evinced an interest in Signor Ugarte.
      Victor Laszlo: Yes.
      Captain Renault: I believe you have a message for him?
      Victor Laszlo: Nothing important, but may I speak to him now?
      Major Strasser: You would find the conversation a trifle one-sided. Signor Ugarte is dead.
      Captain Renault: I am making out the report now. We haven't quite decided yet whether he committed suicide or died trying to escape.
    • But the most famous example is:
      Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
      Captain Renault: I am shocked — shocked — to find that gambling is going on in here.
      Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
      Captain Renault: Oh, thank you very much.
    • When there is only an exit visa for Elsa not Victor he assures her that if it were the other way around he'd leave her to save his own skin. Ilsa then gives several examples of him doing exactly the opposite.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The Leuchtags, the elderly German (or, at least German speaking—possibly Austrian or Swiss) couple headed for America, are trying to make the transition to using English to become better acclimated to American life. Their English is good for the most part, until they trip over the fact that the German word "Uhr" can, depending on context, mean "watch", "time", or "o'clock":
    Herr Leuchtag: What watch? ("Wie viel Uhr?" = "What time is it?")
    Frau Leuchtag: [checks her wristwatch] Ten watch. ("Zehn Uhr." = "Ten o'clock.")
    Herr Leuchtag: Such much? ("Wie viel?" = "It's that late??")
    Karl: (smiling) You will get along beautifully in America.
  • Bloodless Carnage: In the film's opening minutes, a man fleeing police is shot dead through the back, but with not a drop of blood on his person nor on the wall he was up against.
  • Book Ends: The film opens and closes with Max Steiner's arrangement of the French national anthem, "La Marseillaise".
  • Bootstrapped Theme: "As Time Goes By" has been the official Vanity Plate jingle for Warner Bros. since 1999.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • The first German dub was so thoroughly denazified (by about 25 minutes) that it told a completely different story. It took them 23 years to make a faithful dub.
    • To this day, any reference to fascism or Italy is missing from the Italian version.
    • In the first Spanish dub, the reference to Rick's participation in the Spanish Civil War on the Republican side is omitted.
    • In Ireland, all references to Rick and Ilsa's affair in Paris (including the flashback scene and a lot of dialogue in the farewell scene) were cut, because Ilsa was still married to Victor (although he was presumed dead). Needless to say, this re-cut made absolutely no sense. The uncut movie was first shown on TV in Ireland in the 1970s.
  • Brooklyn Rage: When Major Strasser hints at the Nazis eventually invading New York, Rick quips that there are parts of the city that it would not be a good idea for the Germans to invade.
  • Building of Adventure: Except for the Flashback to Paris and the climactic scenes in the airport, nearly all of the action takes place in Rick's Cafe Americain.
  • But Now I Must Go: Ilsa leaves Rick twice. The second time, it's for good.
  • Butt-Monkey: Captain Dorelli, the Italian military attache — even his allies never let him finish a sentence.
  • Bystander Syndrome: Rick appears this way for a while ("I stick my neck out for nobody"), especially when he seems willing to turn over a resistance leader to the Nazis because he is married to Rick's former lover. Eventually, however, we see that Rick isn't nearly as selfish as he lets on.
  • Call-Forward:
    • "If it's December 1941 in Casablanca, what time is it in New York?". From the date on the marker Rick signs at the very beginning, the movie begins on December 2, 1941, and ends on December 5, 1941.
    • Likewise in Ferrari's first conversation with Rick: "My dear Rick, when will you realize that in this world today, isolationism is no longer a practical policy?"
  • Central Theme: Are there some causes so worth fighting for that even love should be sacrificed to fight for them?
  • Chandler American Time: Geography aside (the film doesn't take place in America, but Rick is debatably an Anthropomorphic Personification of Neutral America), the film's timing (the first week of December, 1941) places it at the very tail chronological end of the setting.
  • Character Development:
    • Not just one, but two with Rick and Louis, who start the movie perfectly happy to drink or screw themselves to death without a care for what goes on outside Casablanca. Rick struggles to hold on to his shallow, cynical life even toward the end, when he claims he's no good at being noble while outdoing the nobility of even Laszlo (Laszlo, after all, has every reason to believe he can escape from the Nazis again; Rick was assuming he'd be summarily shot or turned over to the Nazis).
    • Louis' change of heart is more sudden but no less complete: Strasser's death was clearly caused by either him or Blaine, with Louis' lie obvious either way. His subordinates could have turned them both in for a promotion - something that no doubt influenced his decision to skip town.
  • Character’s Most Hated Song: Rick Blaine can't stand to hear the song "As Time Goes By" as it reminds him of his old flame Ilsa who, in the film's backstory, abruptly left him without explanation.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys:
  • The Chessmaster: Rick is first seen playing chess. We never see him play against an opponent, but there is an opened letter next to the board, indicating he's playing some unknown foe by correspondence.note  When finally called into action, Rick is seen manipulating other characters—even Ilsa—into setting up the final move.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder:
    • Louis, who admits as much, saying that he "blows with the wind."
    • Rick betrays most of the cast at some point or another, although he usually does it for a good reason.
  • City of Adventure: Casablanca qualifies as a Trope Codifier.
  • City of Spies: Technically, city full of refugees and smugglers. And also spies, and vultures, vultures everywhere!
  • Les Collaborateurs: The police, particularly Louis — unusually, he redeems himself. Louis is in fact all cool with his normally extremely controversial behavior of opportunism. He, for instance, at one point nonchalantly informs Rick that he will go to his Nazi superior to lick ass for his own sake.
    Renault: I blow with the wind, and right now, the prevailing wind blows from Vichy.
  • The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: "We haven't decided whether he committed suicide or died trying to escape."
  • Courtly Love: Rick is a rather complex zigzag of this. In a flashback he met her in Paris and presumably did French things with her, though of course the movie doesn't say directly. Later Rick is understandably angry at not being told she was married (though at the time of their romp she believed her husband to be dead). In the final scene he settles on being satisfied with Courtly Love because he wants his beloved to be happy.
  • Crapsack World:
    • The movie is more lighthearted about it than most, but it's there. Casablanca is filled with refugees fleeing from war zones or fascist police states, who are now targeted by all sorts of people seeking to exploit them. Leaving for a better place isn't impossible, but involves either a prohibitive cost that most refugees can't afford (and they often impoverish themselves further by trying to win the money through gambling), or, if you're a young attractive woman, sleeping with the local Dirty Cop. Organized crime thrives and the authorities are openly corrupt, with even the protagonist having to pay bribes to keep operating. The police shoots people in broad daylight and routinely rounds up large numbers of designated suspects simply for the pretense of efficiency. And all this is before the Nazis show up and start breathing down everyone's necks.
    • In a wider sense, of course, the story takes place against the backdrop of World War II, which makes the setting literally this for everyone except the US (which isn't in the war, and isn't blockaded or otherwise harmed by it — though it's not coincidental that the film is explicitly set only a couple of days before Pearl Harbor changed the game board).
  • Crowd Song: The French National Anthem scene.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: When Ilsa abandoned Rick in Paris. (Though as Louis notes, Rick's cynicism was never as thorough as he liked to believe.) When Rick and Ilsa reconcile, Rick is able to drop the cynicism and become a straight-up hero.
  • Deadly Euphemism: Played for dark humour by Captain Renault:
    Laszlo: May I speak to him now?
    Strasser: You would find the conversation a trifle one-sided. Signor Ugarte is dead.
    Renault: I'm making out the report now. We haven't quite decided whether he committed suicide or died trying to escape.
  • Deadpan Snarker: It would almost be easier to list the speaking characters who aren't. Even Victor has his moments, both on the same subject and both verging on Black Humor as well: "In a concentration camp, one is apt to lose a little weight," and "I was in a German concentration camp for a year. That's honor enough for a lifetime." Of course, most notably Capt. Renault and Rick: their glorious Snark-to-Snark Combat resulted in a movie with some of the snappiest dialogue in film history.
    Captain Renault: I've often speculated why you didn't go back to America. Did you abscond with the church funds? Did you run off with a senator's wife? I'd like to think that you killed a man. It's the romantic in me.
    Rick: It was a combination of all three.
    Captain Renault: And what in heaven's name brought you to Casablanca?
    Rick: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
    Captain Renault: The waters? What waters? We're in the desert.
    Rick: I was misinformed.
  • Dead Star Walking: Played with. With the film re-teaming Humphrey Bogart with Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre from The Maltese Falcon audiences who are familiar with Lorre's lengthy career, or who have seen that film before this one, may be expecting Lorre to have a much more prominent role in the film (Since Joel Cairo in the other film was a sizable part), and he's billed right after Greenstreet on the poster for this film. While his role and actions to get the letters of transit and then pass them off to Rick kick start the whole plot, he only has a couple of scenes with Bogart before he's arrested and killed off. His character exits the picture in the film's first act.
  • "Dear John" Letter: Rick and Ilsa were supposed to meet at the train station to get out of Paris before the Nazis arrived. Instead, she sent a letter explaining that she couldn't be with him, for unexplained reasons. Over a year later they meet in Casablanca and she explains that she had returned to her husband, Victor, whom she had believed dead before getting together with Rick.
  • Default to Good: Rick, and then Captain Renault.
  • Depth of Field: This effect is messed with to produce a Gaussian Girl filter over Ingrid. This is done by placing Victor, behind her, even when he has no speaking lines, so she's not in close-up.
  • Despair Speech: Rick's dialogue in his famous "All the Gin Joints" scene once Ilsa shows up smacks of this, despite not technically being a speech.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Rick does a heroic sacrifice and lets Ilsa go.
    Rick: We'll always have Paris.
  • Digital Destruction: The 2008 Blu-Ray had contrast boosting and digital noise reduction, which were fortunately corrected in 2012 for the movie's 70th anniversary.
  • Dirty Cop: Captain Renault. He works with Nazis, collects gambling winnings (from a fixed game) despite it being illegal and it's implied that he extorts sex from women in exchange for exit visas. Unlike most examples, his conscience comes through in the end.
  • The Don: Signor Ferrari, though a less sinister version than most. He is "the head of all illegal activities in Casablanca," but is never seen harming anyone (he'd like to hire Sam away from Rick and he'd like to take over Rick's cafe, but he doesn't try to threaten or coerce them, only making offers that would be expected from any interested businessman). He's even the one who gives Ilsa and Victor the suggestion that leads to their leaving with the letters of transit (though he may have had an ulterior motive, see Xanatos Speed Chess below).
  • Driving a Desk: This is used when Rick and Ilsa drive through Paris, then through the French countryside. Roger Ebert admitted that despite his love of Casablanca, this scene looked like the worst rear projection effect he ever saw. It looks like a scene parodied later in Airplane!.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: When Rick learns of Ilsa, he has his famous, "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine" scene, drinking rather heavily while his pianist tries to snap him out of it.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Pretty much everyone.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: Rick's Paris flashback begins with a shot of...the Arc de Triomphe.
  • The Empire: The Nazis, of course.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Early on, Rick lets Ugarte get dragged away by the authorities to his death, asserting that "he sticks his neck out for no one". However, Rick's face clearly shows a moment of sympathy for Ugarte before the tough veneer reasserts itself. The line ends up as more of an effort to convince himself and justify his seeming coldness. Allowing the young couple to win at his rigged roulette table so they could afford to pay Louis for an exit visa, rather than the young wife having to use an alternative method of payment, further establishes that Rick isn't as heartless as he claims.
    • Louis’ first meeting with Strasser has him note that they’ve rounded up twice the usual number of suspects for the couriers’ murders, showing both his open corruption and his tendency to not take his job all that seriously. In his next scene, he playfully prods at Rick’s cynical façade, showing that he doesn’t really buy his friend’s gruff demeanor.
  • Establishing Series Moment: We see a guy shot in broad daylight and no one does a thing. Enter Rick's Cafe and we see people conducting shady business.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Aside from the flashbacks, the movie spans only three days and nights.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Rick. According to Louis, anyway, who describes him as the second most desirable man in Casablanca (after himself, of course).
    "If I were a woman, and I were not around... I should be in love with Rick."
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • Played with in the case of Renault, though he's far from evil. Both he and Rick once fought on the side of the angels, with Rick running guns in Spain and Renault fighting alongside the Allies in World War I. Both drifted to Casablanca and adopted a stance of bemused neutrality. Both go through women faster than cigarettes. However, whereas Rick gruffly offers aid to a lovestruck couple here, a freedom fighter there, Renault embraced the corruption and vice that came with his police uniform.
    • Strasser is this to Laszlo. Both men are paragons of their factions. Curiously, both seriously underestimate Rick, albeit in different ways.
  • Evil Plan: Major Heinrich Strasser seeks to capture an anti-Nazi resistance leader.
  • Exotic Backdrop Setting: Native Moroccans only appear as extras in street scenes.
  • Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit: The film isn't set in the American South, but Signor Ferrari otherwise fits the description quite well.
  • Film Noir: Heavy shadows, morally conflicted and deeply wounded cynical protagonist, Bittersweet Ending, Humphrey Bogart... yeah, it counts.
  • Filming for Easy Dub: The ending of the classic final exchange between Renault and Rick — "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship" — was thought up by the producer and dubbed in by Humphrey Bogart after filming was completed.
  • Flashback: Of Rick and Ilsa's time together in pre-occupation Paris, and how exactly Ilsa left Rick.
  • Flippant Forgiveness:
    Ugarte: You are a very cynical person, Rick, if you'll forgive me for saying so.
    Rick: I forgive you.
  • Forced Perspective: That plane, with the maintenance crew working on it? A scale model, and dwarves. A cheap cardboard scale model, at that. The scene's fog, in addition to being atmospheric, was used to hide how fake the plane looked. A case of Real Life Writes the Plot: by the time production began, the U.S. had been drawn into World War II, and things like real planes were at a premium.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • During the Paris flashback, Rick and Ilsa dance to ... Perfidia.
    • Yvonne gets in bed (literally) with the Germans, before revealing she's still a proud French patriot... just like Louis in the finale.
    • The young Bulgarian couple. They appear throughout the movie going through the "stages" of trying to escape the city just like Laszlo and Ilsa, the young woman is in a similar emotional situation to Ilsa in Paris and Rick at the moment, and if that weren't enough, their plight is what pushes Rick over the edge and into sticking his neck out for somebody.
    • Louis' theory about what crime Rick committed corresponds more or less exactly with his major plot points throughout the movie.
    • Louis and Rick both comment about Rick's dead idealism. Strasser is unconvinced.
    • During the first night of Ilsa's return into his life, Rick asks Sam about the time and day as though to commemorate the moment. The conversation underscores that the film is happening in the week before the Pearl Harbor attack, making Rick's drunken comments about "America being asleep" potent.
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble: Rick as the Cynic, Ilsa as the Conflicted, Victor as the Optimist, and Louis as the Apathetic. All four start off as textbook examples of their respective philosophies, and their Character Development largely entails these philosophies being challenged by the events of the film.
  • Friendly Enemy: Rick and Captain Renault are a textbook example until the closing scene, when, impressed by Rick's heroic sacrifice, Renault does a Heel–Face Turn. Rick famously declares, "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
  • Friend-or-Idol Decision: A three-way, playing into the film's Love Triangle and the fact that there are only two Letters of Transit for the three characters:
    • Ilsa is in love with both Rick and her husband Victor. There is no way she can be with both of them, but she doesn't want to leave Rick again. She begs Rick to give Lazlo the Letters of Transit so he can escape, in return for Ilsa staying with Rick (or not, she admits she doesn't know what to do).
    • Victor is devoted to his fight against the Nazis, and knows that Ilsa loves him in no small part because of it. All the same, he's willing to give up on both his fight and his marriage to save Ilsa by having Rick take her away to safety.
    • Rick is in love with Ilsa, but can see quite well how she adores Victor. All of the above considered, he could abandon Victor, take Ilsa away, and everyone would get something they want, at the sacrifice of Victor's life and his fight against the Nazis. As he has the Letters of Transit, he is ultimately the only one who can make the decision. Rick decides to shoot Major Strasser and run off with Captain Renault to join the Free French, leaving Victor and Ilsa to escape together and carry on the fight.
  • Freudian Trio: Rick (Id), Sam (ego), Ilsa (superego).
  • Funny Background Event: After the famous "I'm shocked! Shocked!" moment under Hypocritical Humor, as Louis proceeds to close the club down Rick can be seen glaring at and looming threateningly over the usher who was foolish enough to give the police officer in the middle of closing his establishment down his gambling winnings. Said usher looks a little intimidated.
  • Funny Foreigner:
    • The Leuchtags' exchange: "What watch?" "Ten watch." "Such much?" It's a literal translation from German to English.note  Doesn't rise to the level of a "Blind Idiot" Translation.
    • The "vultures everywhere" guy (Curt Bois) uses this as a cover for his pickpocketing.
  • Gaussian Girl: Ingrid Bergman is seldom in focus, and never in close up. There are even some wider shots where this is accomplished through messing with the Depth of Field, by placing the focus on Victor, behind her, even when he has no speaking lines.
  • Gay Paree: Ilsa and Rick "will always have Paris." There a long Falling-in-Love Montage showing them there.
  • Genre-Busting: It's equal parts romance, Film Noir, spy thriller, musical and war drama, though the romance portion tends to be remembered the most.
  • Genre Roulette: It's a film noir/war movie/comedy/drama/caper/romance with a side order of adventure (and propaganda).
  • George Lucas Altered Version: The film was colorized in the 1980s.
  • Glamorous Wartime Singer: Rick's Cafe has a female singer-guitarist.
  • Going Native: Sydney Greenstreet wanted to wear full Moroccan attire to show that Ferrari had fully assimilated into the local culture. Michael Curtiz wouldn't allow it, emphasizing that like all the other principals, Ferrari came from outside. Greenstreet settled for a fez and the traditional salaam or temena gesture (touching heart, lips, brow) when he first enters.
  • Good-Guy Bar: Rick's Cafe Americain is simultaneously this and a Bad Guy Bar; everyone comes to Rick's.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Victor Laszlo has a classic Good Scar: a thin, dark line crossing ris right eyebrow.
  • Greater Need Than Mine: As pointed out above, Ilsa and Victor are both willing to give up something they want for the sake of someone they love, and it falls to Rick to make the decision of who has to sacrifice what they want for a loved one. Famously, it's Rick.
  • Guile Hero: Rick. His professed neutrality allows him to skirt trouble with every competing faction in Casablanca. On the rare occasion he does take an honest stand, he does so in a low-key way that offers him plausible deniability.
  • Handshake Refusal: When Renault meets Strausser at the airport, an Italian officer is snubbed as part of the Passive-Aggressive Kombat.
  • Head-Turning Beauty: Ilsa, according to Rick, Victor, and Louis.
    Louis: Ms. Lund, I was told you were the most beautiful woman who had ever come to Casablanca. That was a gross understatement.
  • Healthy Country Air: Well, Water, not air, but still the country:
    Louis: And what in heaven's name brought you to Casablanca?
    Rick: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
    Louis: The waters? What waters? We're in the desert.
    Rick: I was misinformed.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Louis and Rick. A tad different and late in the latter's case.
  • Heroic BSoD: Rick gets two. First when Ilsa leaves him in Paris, and again when she reappears in Casablanca.
  • Heroic Neutral: Rick, since he represents America at the beginning of World War II. His idealistic younger self fought alongside those resisting fascism, but the expansion of Axis authority and being suddenly abandoned by the love of his life made him cynical and apathetic. He doesn't take sides with the Vichy authorities, the Nazis or the resistance, until the plot of the film awakens the hero within. Major Strasser, equipped with "a full dossier" on Rick, is smart enough that he doesn't attempt to convert Rick, just keep him neutral. It doesn't work.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Rick and Sam. At the end, it may be that Rick and Louis will be heterosexual life partners, as Sam is (probably) staying in Casablanca, and the other two are going to Brazzaville to fight Nazis.
    "Louis, I think this might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
  • Hollywood Kiss: Rick and Ilsa
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • "I'm shocked — shocked! — to find that gambling is going on in here." "Your winnings, sir." "Oh, thank you very much."
    • A more subtle example is Rick's repeated claim that he "sticks his neck out for nobody," and then spends pretty much the entire movie sticking his neck out for one person or another.
    • And, once again, the "vultures everywhere" guy, who is, himself, one of the vultures he is warning you about.
    • Early in the movie, Renault tells Rick, "In Casablanca, I am the master of my fate." He is then immediately summoned to kowtow to Major Strasser. The realization that he is not truly the master of his fate, at least as long as the Nazis have anything to say about it, may be part of what motivates his Heel–Face Turn at the end of the movie.
  • Iconic Song Request: "Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By'."
  • Idiosyncratic Wipes: While the film itself was fairly staid in its transitions, its original trailer used every wipe known to the science of the time.
  • Implausible Deniability: After Rick blatantly gives instructions to the roulette croupier and the same number comes up twice in a row, Karl answers a customer's reasonable questioning of the casino's honesty with, "Honest? As honest as the day is long!" (Also Hypocritical Humor, since Karl knows what happened as well as anyone.)
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Ugarte, a villain — he has a couple of couriers murdered, he's looking to sell the letters of transit — but also a hapless loser. He is played by Peter Lorre after all.
  • Insistent Terminology: Renault emphasizes Third Reich every time he says it.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: When the gambling activities are exposed at Rick's Café:
    Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
    Louis: I am shocked — shocked — to find that gambling is going on in here!
    Emile: [handing him a stack of bills] Your winnings, sir.
    Louis: Oh, thank you very much. [shouting to casino patrons] Everybody out at once!
  • Irrevocable Order: The letters of transit "cannot be countermanded or revoked in any way". This is rather implausible, but lets everyone get on with the story. Anyway, as the cynical Rick points out, even with letters of transit there are still ways that travelers can be hindered from leaving. He holds Renault at gunpoint near the end and makes him call the airport to ensure there will be no delays. And even after this, there's quite a bit of tension up until the last minute about whether the plane will be allowed to leave Casablanca.
  • It's a Small World, After All: Referenced but not played straight as there's no coincidence; everybody involved has a good reason for being in Casablanca, and in Casablanca, everybody comes to Rick's.
    Rick: Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: A defining theme of the movie. Although this is justified more than the trope typically is. "If that plane takes off and you're not on it, you'll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life." Also, he was talking about the work Laszlo was doing more than just being with him. Both men care more about her safety and happiness than which of them "wins". At this point Rick believes he's going to be arrested and sent to a concentration camp once Strasser arrives and it's as much about Ilsa's safety as it is her happiness.
  • Jade-Colored Glasses: Happened in Rick's past.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold
    • Rick Blaine: "I stick my neck out for nobody." Sure you don't, Rick. Sure you don't.
    • Signore Ferrari, to a much lesser extent: "I am moved to make one more suggestion; why, I do not know, because it cannot possibly profit me, but, have you heard about Signor Ugarte and the letters of transit...?"
    • Renault plays up the Dirty Cop bit and is outwardly cordial to Major Strasser but it’s pretty clear he has no love for the Nazis and never goes all that far out of his way to help them out. By the end, he’s actively running off to join the war effort against them. He’s also notably sympathetic to Rick and the others.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Technically Major Strasser has no authority in Casablanca, as it was at the time governed by Vichy France which was (nominally) independent and neutral, albeit German-leaning. Of course, given that large chunks of France were under German occupation and the Vichy regime was a German puppet in all but name, it's a pretty big technicality, enabling Strasser to throw his weight around regardless. None of which particularly endears him to Louis.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Rick is a jaded and weary man who projects a selfish façade, but he's also a romantic with noble goals.
  • Lady of War: Ilsa seems to be a Damsel in Distress trying to be a Lady of War. More important, what she really is, is every soldier's favorite princess. Which might make this a successful attempt at inspiring the World War II version of Courtly Love from fans.
  • Lampshade Hanging: From p. 372 of the screenwriting book Story by Robert McKee:
    Ferrari is the ultimate capitalist and crook who never does anything except for money. Yet at one point Ferrari helps Victor Lazlo find the precious letters of transit and wants nothing in return. That's out of character, illogical. Knowing this, the writers gave Ferrari the line: "Why, I do not know, because it cannot possibly profit me..." Rather than hiding the hole, the writers admitted it with the bold lie that Ferrari might be impulsively generous. The audience knows we often do things for reasons we can't explain. Complimented, it nods, thinking, "Even Ferrari doesn't get it. Fine. On with the film."
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Rick asking "Are my eyes really brown?" It is a black and white film, after all. note 
  • Leitmotif: Three:
    • Most famously, "As Time Goes By", which symbolizes the romance between Rick and Ilsa.
    • "La Marseillaise", which, in addition to representing Paris and France, also symbolizes La Résistance, and the Allied cause as a whole.
    • The opening of the Deutschlandlied (the German national anthem, here played in a minor key to make it sound more sinister) represents Nazi Germany, and Major Strasser in particular.
  • Lost Love Montage: We see the Paris relationship between Rick and Ilsa.
  • Loveable Rogue: Captain Renault, although he turns honest at the end.
  • Love Triangle: Victor loves Ilsa who still loves Rick but whose duty lies with Victor...
  • MacGuffin: The letters of transit are never used in the context of the movie, since before the plane leaves, Strasser is dead and Renault is sympathetic.
  • Manly Tears:
    • It's perfectly okay to tear up when Rick gets that letter at the train station.
    • It's also perfectly okay when Rick performs his noble speech at the end telling Ilsa to go with Laszlo.
  • Meaningful Name: "Victor" means "Winner". See Messianic Archetype just below.
  • Messianic Archetype: Victor Laszlo, the one man who will single-handedly save the resistance.
  • Mook Lieutenant: Captain Heinz, who is Strasser's Aide.
  • Music for Courage: The French national anthem scene "La Marseillaise" is played as a beautiful answer to "Die Wacht am Rhein". A Nazi at the back in the shot where Maj. Strasser is conducting accidentally sings a bar of the Marseillaise, then looks embarrassed. Part of the reason that scene is so powerful is that many of the extras were actual European refugees who had come to California. When you see Yvonne crying during the song? She was French, hearing her country's anthem for the first time in years. Not just Yvonne — but the actress.
    "Vive la France! Vive la démocratie!"
    • Her name was Madeleine Lebeau. She and her Jewish husband Marcel Dalio had really taken the terrible journey described in the opening narration of the film, fleeing France ahead of the occupation, obtaining letters of transitnote  and being stranded in Mexico with bogus Chilean passports before finally getting to the U.S. She was the last credited cast member of Casablanca to die, in 2016.
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: Laszlo tries to use this to scare the Nazis, but Strasser doesn't buy it.
  • Mysterious Past:
    • For all that is revealed, we still don't know why (and exactly when) Rick left America or why he can't return.
      Major Strasser: Richard Blaine, American. Age, 37. Cannot return to his country. The reason is a little vague.
    • Rick's past was such a mystery, even the writers didn't know. They spent a lot of time trying to come up with something appropriately cool; they failed. One finally suggested 'unpaid parking tickets.' That was the point when they gave up and left it "a little vague."
  • Neutral No Longer: Rick in the finale, which Strasser had suspected might happen. Also Renault, which he didn't.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Major Strasser is threatening mainly for what he represents: the might of the German authorities. Personally, he is just an aging policeman with no extraordinary fighting skills, and goes down extremely easily when it does come to a fight.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • The reason Rick can't return to America is never disclosed in the film. The Neutrality Acts of the 1930s were in play and the writers apparently attempted to come up with the exact reason numerous times, but eventually decided to leave it to our imaginations, and hung a lampshade on it by having Renault bring up various theories (see Deadpan Snarker above) of either stealing money, seducing another man's wife, or killing a man. By the end of the movie, Rick does all three: cheats on his bet with Louis about Victor's escape, rekindles the love affair with Ilsa (even as she leaves with Victor), and shoots Major Strasser.
    • Also whatever may or may not have happened between Rick and Yvonne that has her so upset with him. Did they sleep together? Did Rick lead her on? Or is she just hurt that he doesn't return her feelings?
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: he says.
  • Not So Above It All: Rick tells Ilsa that he'd rather see the world burn, but the glibness subsides when he meets Lazlo in person.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Several, but perhaps most noticeably Claude Rains as a Frenchman.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: The last shot of the film is Rick and Louis walking off into the fog and an uncertain future.
  • Old Flame: Ilsa and Rick.
  • Oops! I Forgot I Was Married: Ilsa in the Backstory doesn't so much forget she is married as think her husband is dead.
  • Percussive Pickpocket: Used for a Brick Joke. At the start of the movie, we see a pickpocket at work. Later the pickpocket (really) accidentally bumps into Karl, who frantically checks his pockets to make sure his wallet is still there.
  • Persona Non Grata: Rick is an unwilling ex-pat from the United States, and just about everybody there is also displaced from their homeland for one reason or another providing several examples of The Exile and You Can't Go Home Again.
  • The Place: Casablanca is set in Casablanca.
  • The Power of Rock: Victor Laszlo overhears Those Wacky Nazis singing the patriotic (and anti-French) German song "Die Wacht am Rhein" around the piano, goes over to the band, and gets them to play "La Marseillaise", with Rick's approval (which Rick is more than happy to grant, as the Germans have chased Rick's good friend Sam off of his piano). The entire bar joins in, drowning out the Germans and emphasizing the passionate political undertones of the refugees.
  • Properly Paranoid: Karl, after the slightest contact with the "vultures everywhere" pickpocket, checks himself thoroughly for his valuables. Also Laszlo: when Ferrari points out that he and Lisa are being followed, Victor smiles, "Of course; it becomes an instinct."
  • Punch-Clock Hero: Rick tries to paint himself this way when discussing his previous anti-fascist activities, but Renault punctures this by pointing out the other side would have paid better.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Captain Renault, who makes it clear he's happy to cooperate with the Nazis as long as they remain in power, without caring about their ideology one way or another.
  • Ransacked Room: Alluded to when Rick tells Captain Renault his men were so thorough in searching for the letters of transit that the staff just barely got the mess cleaned up in time to open that night.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Ilsa gives Rick one when she’s in his office and refuses to give her the letter, calling him out on his choice to screw over the Resistance just for being snubbed. She quickly apologises, though.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Victor Laszlo has been reported as having been killed by the Nazis no less than five times, the first time being upon his escape from the concentration camp where he was being held.
  • La Résistance: Lazlo is a key player in European Resistance movements. By the end of the film, it's implied that Rick and Louis Renault join the French Resistance.
  • Romantic False Lead: An unusual twist: Either Victor or Rick could be considered a False Lead once you know the Backstory. In the DVD commentary, Roger Ebert points out that no matter with whom Ilsa leaves at the end, she's leaving with the wrong man. Ingrid Bergman claims that she consciously attempted to avoid this trope by presenting Ilsa as having to decide between two men she genuinely loves, each in his own way. In addition, the outcome wasn't written in the script while they were filming it and The Hays Code wouldn't have allowed the showing of a movie in which she left her husband for another man in that fashion.
  • Rousseau Was Right: See Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • It's suggested that in Casablanca, it's usual for there to be a gambling room built into the back of a club or restaurant. But the fact that there's one at Rick's might hold a bit of symbolism. There's a recurring theme of luck in Casablanca. Take Ilsa's arrival at Rick's joint out of all places for instance. Pretty unlikely right? Ugarte hands the letters of transit off to Rick a matter of minutes before he's arrested. That was lucky. Strasser arrives at the airport just as the plane door has closed and the aircraft starts down the runway. Also lucky. There are quite a bit of close calls like this throughout the film, perhaps hinting that the events are being guided by another hand.
    • Rick's bar is the one central location in the film, And right in the middle of the bar is Sam's piano. When you also consider the fact that the piano is where the letters of transit are hidden — the one thing on which the entire plot hinges — you know that piano is important. The piano also provides a link to Rick's and Ilsa's past. It's where Ilsa first goes when she enters the café; she asks Sam to play for a song that used to be "their" song, a song that Rick has refused to let Sam play because it just hurts too much to hear it. And then, One of the most essential, stirring scenes in the movie is when the German officers are singing their anthem, and then Laszlo swoops in and gets the orchestra to start playing France's anthem. It's representative of the whole political struggle that's embedded in this story. Music is the expression of the soul; it steps up to the plate when words are insufficient. And there are so many times in Casablanca where, despite all the brilliant dialogue, something can only be said with a look, or a touch, or a kiss.
    • Rick Blaine himself is a walking piece of symbolism. For example, Rick's an American, and pretty much the only one in the movie. He holds out for a long time, doing whatever he can not to get involved in the war, or to take sides. He only inserts himself at the last minute, when it begins to threaten his own personal interests, and is finally inspired enough to make waves. America acted exactly the same way when it was considering becoming engaged in World War II. It wasn't until Japan bombed Pearl Harbor that we were compelled to join the fray.
    • "La Marseillaise", the French national anthem, is more than just an emotional scene, it's also an important one. Victor Laszlo, fed up with the Nazis singing their Nazi song in their Nazi manner, tells the band to start playing "La Marseillaise," to counter it. Everyone joins in, the Germans look cranky and Rick's bar ends up getting closed down. This is important partially because it's a big step forward for Rick actually picking sides in the fight. La Marseillaise" is the French national anthem, But the Nazis largely occupied France in the early 1940s when the movie was made, and nobody played that song on German turf as it was banned: Vichy France, which technically ran Casablanca, used a song called "Maréchal Nous Voilà" as its anthem. As a result, "Le Marseillaise" became a theme of the French Underground, and of similar French Resistance forces trying to free their country from German rule.
    • There's a brief scene at the end where Captain Renault dumps out a bottle of Vichy water and tosses it in the trash. The motivations are hinted at in the movie but it doesn't go into a lot of detail, and may be a skippable scene for modern-day viewers. When the Germans defeated France, they divided the country into two. They themselves occupied the northern half of the country—including Paris, the actual capital— and the Atlantic coast, but because they had bigger issues (including Communist Russia), they set up a puppet government in the southern half of the country, with a capital in Vichy. Technically, Vichy France was neutral in the war, but they basically danced to the Germans' tune... and because they controlled Casablanca and other French colonies, we can see that playing out in the film. So basically, Renault's dumping his Vichy water signals that he's no longer willing to be the puppet. He's ready to fight the Germans just like Rick is. But on a subtler level, it also makes a very pointed statement about the U.S. government's position on the whole thing.
  • Running Gag:
    • Ferrari swatting flies in his rathole club.
    • Vultures. Vultures everywhere.
  • Scarpia Ultimatum: The scene with the young Bulgarian newlyweds, the Brandels, trying to buy passage to Lisbon from Captain Renault. He wants either a very large sum of money or sex with the wife. In the end, Rick helps them to raise the money by cheating to let them win at roulette. In contrast to most examples of this trope, Renault is willing to take the money if they do happen to have it, and apparently always keeps his word if they don't. It's what lets him keep the 'Affable' in Affably Evil.
    Renault: (to Rick, after the Brandels leave) I'll forgive you this time. But I'll be in tomorrow night with a breathtaking blonde, and it will make me very happy if she loses.
  • Screw the War, We're Partying:
    • Until Victor's arrival, the majority of Rick's clients.
    • If you presume that Rick is the Anthropomorphic Personification of the United States, it applies to him too. He tries to stay out of the conflict of the plot, despite his personal history with Ilsa, and run his business. Now consider that the film takes place in the first week of December, 1941.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
    • When Rick and Ilsa start talking the first time, Sam immediately packs up the piano and slips away. In fact he flees the scene like the club has caught fire.
    • The outcome of Captain Renault's Heel–Face Turn in the finale, when he finally grows tired of toeing the Nazi/Vichy line and decides to join La Résistance with Rick.
  • Sequel Hook: Renault's line about joining a French garrison in Brazzaville was meant to lead into a thankfully unmade sequel called ''Brazaville''.
  • Signature Line: Almost everyone knows the classic line, "Play it again, Sam." ...except the line never appears. It's simply "Play it, Sam." With the "again" later on. Hence the title of Woody Allen's film Play It Again, Sam, which has Allen's neurotic Jew being given advice on how to pick up ladies from the ghost of Bogart. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: Rick starts out nursing this view. It doesn't last, though.
  • Slasher Smile: Conrad Veidt (whose face was the original model for The Joker) has still got it.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Pretty much the point of the movie. "I suspect that under that cynical shell you are at heart a sentimentalist." Of course, Louis is right when he says that of Rick. And because Rousseau Was Right, it turns out to be true of everyone, even the local crime lord and corrupt, lecherous Louis himself. Except Strasser, of course.
  • Slut-Shaming:
    Rick (to Ilsa) Tell me, who was it that you left me for? Was is Lazlo, or were there others in between? Or aren't you the kind that tells?
  • Smart People Play Chess: Rick is introduced playing chess-by-mail. This came from Bogart himself, who was an avid chess player.
  • Smug Snake: Renault, although Louis is really just too cool to remain a bad guy through the whole picture, so he reforms at the end so he and Rick can fight Nazis together.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Rick and just about everyone, but especially Captain Renault and Major Strasser.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: The Third Man uses similar characters and story elements to invert that sentiment right back into cynicism.
  • Stealth Insult: A beautiful one by Renault: "Major Strasser is one of the reasons the Third Reich enjoys the reputation it has today."
  • Stepford Snarker: Rick comes off as an uncaring wiseass, but we soon learn he's covering up deep pain over being exiled from his home country and losing the love of his life.
  • Stood Up: Rick at the train station at the end of the flashback.
  • Supporting Leader: Victor Laszlo. The resolution to the romantic plot revolves entirely around Rick acknowledging that Victor is way, way more important than he is.
  • Take That!: When Captain Heinz asks Rick if he could imagine Nazis being in London, Rick replies, "When you get there, ask me." At this time, both in universe and real life, Germany had already abandoned any plans to invade Britain.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Sam's expression after Laslo and Ilsa walk in for the first time screams this.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Not insane or a mustache-twirlingly cartoonish version of evil, but very much the villains, obviously.
  • Threat Backfire: Downplayed but present when Rick holds Louis at gunpoint, ordering him to call the airport to hold the last plane to Lisbon for Victor Laszlo (Louis was actually calling Strausser to alert him to Rick's plan).
    Rick: And remember, this gun is pointed at your heart.
    Louis: That is my least vulnerable spot.
  • Threshold Guardians: Rick, who has the letters of transit that Victor and Ilsa need to leave Casablanca. Rick is perhaps one of the few Threshold Guardians in fiction to be The Protagonist.
  • Title Drop: Here of the (unproduced) play it was adapted from. Captain Renault's "Everybody comes to Rick's". The word "Casablanca" is spoken many times, too. Justified, being the city in which the story is set.
  • Token Black Friend: Sam is a prototypical example. An interesting distinction, however, especially considering the context and culture of the time, is that Sam is never portrayed in a clownish or stereotypical way, nor is he a Magical Negro type, or anything other than a concerned and loyal friend to Rick. Sure, he tends to defer to Rick and addresses him as "Boss," but Rick is, in fact, his Boss, and he doesn't seem to be treated unfairly by the other characters or portrayed as inferior in any way, except perhaps in the sense that he's treated as a human juke box at times — but, again, that is his job. He's also one of the most highly regarded members of Rick's staff, getting a percent of the gross from Rick and a job offer — and a 15% raise — from Ferrari. Rick's line is notable in positioning him as True Neutral: "I don't buy or sell human beings". The only moment where true racial stereotyping comes into play is when Ilsa refers to him as "the boy playing the piano."
  • Train-Station Goodbye:
    • The film that made this scene famous. Ironically, no one is there to say goodbye to Rick — just a note.
    • The movie then ends on an Airport Goodbye, the other famous scene.
  • Travel Montage: Right at the beginning, where it is used to show the refugee trail from Paris to Casablanca. It even starts with a shot of the globe and then zooms in.
  • Triumphant Reprise: The film ends with a reprise of "La Marseillaise".
  • Truce Zone: Casabalance, also Truth in Television.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: For a refugee travelling with a wanted resistance leader, Ilsa has an impressively varied wardrobe, appearing in a different dress in practically every scene, including a hat large enough to make you wonder what sort of luggage she has.
  • Underling with an F in PR: When Louis Renault closes Rick's Cafe early, Rick's croupier Emile undermines his stated reason for shutting the establishment down:
    Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
    Louis: I am shocked, shocked, to find that gambling is going on in here!
    Emile: [handing him a stack of bills] Your winnings, sir.
    Louis: Oh, thank you very much. [shouting to casino patrons] Everybody out at once!
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Rick keeps his plan to get Victor and Ilsa on the plane to Lisbon close to his vest, not letting the audience in on the plan until it's enacted. He doesn't even let Ilsa in on all of it; she thinks Victor will be leaving without him.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The band contest. There was an actual Bar Brawl in a neutral Balkan establishment between a visiting American adventurer and some German visitors over whether German or Allied themed music would be played. It caused a political incident, but was well known enough for President Roosevelt (who thought the whole thing rather funny) to hear of it.
  • Vile Vulture: Invoked when a pickpocket warns his marks that there are "vultures, vultures everywhere!", as he takes their valuables from underneath their noses.
  • Villain Song: Strasser and his men briefly sing a patriotic German tune in Rick's club, but it is then drowned out by "Marseillaise," sung by the club's other patrons led by Victor.
  • Villainous Breakdown: When he's captured by the police in Casablanca, Ugarte has a brief but memorable breakdown.
    • Only Peter Lorre could get away with that and make it sound genuine and even heartrending, and not like Narm.
  • War Refugees: Most of the characters.
  • War Was Beginning: "With the coming of the Second World War..."
  • Weapons Understudies: Major Strasser arrives in Casablanca in a Fokker Super Universal instead of a Junkers Ju 52, which was the preferred transport aircraft of the Luftwaffe but obviously very rare outside of Germany during the war.
  • We Work Well Together: Rick ends the film by telling Louis:
    "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
  • What the Hell, Hero?: One of the other refugees has a very pointed reaction to Rick's callousness over letting Ugarte get dragged away.
    Refugee: When they come for me, I hope you'll be more of a help.
    Rick: I stick my neck out for nobody.
  • What You Are in the Dark: When it comes time to make a stand, Louis effectively condemns himself to death to do the right thing.
  • What's an X Like You Doing in a Y Like This?: Rick puts a negative spin on this trope:
    "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world — she drops into mine!"
  • Wild Card: Renault agrees to do whatever will help maintain his cushy position. He leaks word of Laszlo's escape to Strasser, but once the Major is shot dead, Renault figures that his law enforcement career is up in smoke, too — and there's no point to turning Rick in.
  • Womanliness as Pathos:
    • Despite ostensibly being a film about cynical nightclub owner Rick Blaine getting over his bitterness to help resistance leader Victor Laszlo escape from Nazis during World War II, the majority of the film's angst is about a woman: Ilsa, who fell in love with Rick a year ago after believing Laszlo (her husband) to be dead but left him out of obligation once she learned he was alive. From the moment Ilsa walks in, all of Rick's angst and turmoil come bubbling right to the surface, with Rick's loyal musician Sam even telling his boss that dealing with the woman is nothing but trouble, as she was the cause of Rick's bitterness. When Ilsa and Rick meet again, it becomes clear that the two still harbor strong feelings for each other, and as the person with the only two passes out of Axis-controlled Casablanca, everything rides on Rick. For reference, when Rick and Laszlo discuss who should use the passes, Ilsa is the only one they both agree on for the purposes of keeping her safe and happy. Laszlo wants Rick to go with her because it's clear he's the one she loves, while Rick wants her to go with Laszlo because he's her lawful husband and a very important man. Rick finally cements himself as a hero when he gives the passes to Ilsa and Laszlo and then persuades her to leave with her husband at the expense of his own happiness.
    • In addition to the main plot between Rick and Ilsa, the movie demonstrates the corrupt and apathetic nature of Dirty Cop Captain Renault by introducing a young, beautiful and sympathetic Bulgarian refugee named Annina whom Renault has agreed to help escape to America with her husband if she performs sexual favors for him. Before she makes her choice, the desperate Annina comes to Rick to ask if she can trust that Renault will keep his word and if (as a man) Rick could forgive a wife who slept with someone else even if it was for his own happiness. The young, innocent woman's plight persuades the usually-cynical Rick to rig the roulette tables in her husband's favor and allow them to leave the country without giving in to Renault's demands.
  • Woman Scorned: Rick is a male example, refusing to give Ilsa and Victor the letter out of a grudge he holds for Ilsa for leaving him. She calls him out on it.
  • Wretched Hive: The city of Casablanca itself.
    "This place is full of vultures, vultures everywhere."
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Possibly Ferrari, behind the scenes. We know he wants Rick's Cafe and all of the talent Rick has running it. So, when Ilsa and Victor approach him, he offers: "I am moved to make one more suggestion; why, I do not know, because it cannot possibly profit me, but, have you heard about Signor Ugarte and the letters of transit...?" In the end, he gains Rick's Cafe and most of the talent running it, so it did profit him. He also has little to gain from the Nazis closely watching the black market.
  • You Cannot Kill An Idea: Victor Lazslo tries to assert this about La Résistance against the Nazis. The film itself does a good job of illustrating the concept. Unfortunately Those Wacky Nazis also have ideas, and ones that Laszlo is kinda, you know, trying to kill.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me:
    • Ilsa visits Rick to try to get him to give her the letters of transit, when he refuses, she picks up his gun and threatens to shoot him. Rick's response: "If Laszlo and the cause mean so much to you, you won't stop at anything." Ilsa hesitates. He steps right in front of the gun, saying "All right, I'll make it easier for you. Go ahead and shoot. You'll be doing me a favor." She doesn't shoot. Variation because Rick is saying (paraphrased), "If you're the Ilsa I knew you won't shoot me, but if you will, then I have no desire to live."
    • Rick threatening Major Strasser. Strasser doesn't say anything, but continues his (phone) call and seems to be calling Rick's bluff. He gets shot. It's awkward to observe from the angle, but Strasser also attempts to shoot Rick.

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


Video Example(s):


Captain Renault

Captain Renault turns his back on the Nazis and Vichy France and instead begins a beautiful friendship with Rick.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / HeelFaceTurn

Media sources: