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YMMV / Casablanca

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  • Actor Shipping: Because their chemistry was so natural, Humphrey Bogart's then-wife was certain he was having an affair with Ingrid Bergman. As the story goes, however, the two only met once off the set to have lunch and discuss their issues with the script (both were unhappy with the "unrealistic dialogue").
  • Adaptation Displacement: Sort of. Casablanca was adapted from a stage play called Everybody Comes to Rick's, which took place entirely in the cafe and ended with Rick and Ilsa running away together, though few people know this. They could be forgiven for not knowing, however, as the play was never actually produced in its original form. (The script was published, though, and in 1991 the play was staged in a revised version, titled Rick's Bar Casablanca, which included elements derived from the film.)
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: The movie has a lot of ambiguities, and thus has a lot of this trope.
    • Ilsa. The classic interpretation is that Ilsa is truly helpless to her feelings for Rick, and his words to Victor are a noble gesture to put his romantic rival's mind at ease and make sure they'll be happy together. However, Ilsa tries everything from reason to begging to threatening Rick with death in order to get those papers for Victor before she kisses him and finally melts his reserve. And remember, this woman has been sticking with Victor through some truly hairy situations, the willing and loyal accomplice to the most wanted spy in Nazi-occupied territories. Whatever feelings she may still have for Rick, it's no stretch to imagine that she's faking that helpless damsel act, and willing to stay with Rick if it that's her only means of getting her husband to safety once and for all. More evidence: Ferrari offers them one letter of transit, and she never says, "Honey, you're the one they're after; take this one and get out to continue your work." She doesn't float the idea of staying behind until she's tried everything else she can think of. Also, she hears a singer with a familiar voice, is told that his name is Sam and that he came there from Paris with Rick, and she's still asking who Rick is. Doesn't exactly sound like she's been pining for him, although he stipulates that the one letter of transit would only work for Ilsa. Basically Ilsa's got two totally awesome guys wrapped around her little finger here and would be perfectly happy to stay with either one if only she can be sure the other will be safe.
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    • Many viewers and even some critics are unsure about Captain Renault's sexuality. The movie even drops a few hints that he's into men. Is he pretending to obsess over women because he's a closeted homosexual? Is he simply a bisexual who's only open about what he does with women because it's the 1940s? Or is he just French? And then, at the end of the film, Renault and Rick walk off into the fog together, talking about their new and beautiful friendship. Some viewers think his hanging around Rick all the time and Rick's comment when Renault brings his latest victim and her husband suggests his sights are wider than first thought, and that Rick knows it.
      Rick: Renault's getting broad-minded.
    • Ugarte. A sociopath who killed, stole and sold illegal visas for personal gain, who Rick genuinely couldn't care less about? Or a genuine friend of Rick's, just trying to get by, who had some understandable reasons not to feel bad about killing Nazis, who Rick is secretly sorry he lost? Not surprisingly, Peter Lorre fans tend to gravitate towards the latter. And the Noodle Incident that leads to the couriers being murdered. Did Ugarte kill them for the letters? For some other reason? Or did he just pick over their bodies after someone else killed them? The beginning mentions that the suspected killer and accomplices have fled to Casablanca, and Ugarte might have been an accomplice and not the killer.
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    • The ethnicities of the refugees is left ambiguous. Some reviews complain about the lack of Jewish characters in a movie about Holocaust refugees, while others simply assume that Jan and Annina Brandel are Jews. Some think of Ugarte as Jewish because his actor was. Karl is German and is working against the Nazis so many fans of the movie believe him to be Jewish. Karl's German friends who have just gotten visas could be Jewish as well. Fanfic writers have fun getting creative with Original Characters and minor canon characters' backstories for being in Casablanca. Of course it's also important to remember at the time of the film's release, the Holocaust was not widely known and at any rate, the Endloesung proper had only just commenced a few months earlier. What reports were trickling out from Nazi-occupied Europe were not given enough credence due to heavily exaggerated atrocity stories about the Germans circulated during World War I making media gatekeepers wonder if this was another case of Crying Wolf. It's also important to remember that while the horrors of Holocaust were still almost unknown, the crude anti-Semitism of Nazis as well as massive Jewish emigration from Germany had been no secret since long before the start of WWII, so the concept of Jews fleeing German-occupied Europe (if from persecution rather than extermination) was perfectly natural for the film-makers and audiences alike. They could also be any of the many other groups the Nazis targeted. Slavs, Romani, the disabled, Communists...
  • And You Thought It Would Fail: Fail is putting it too strongly, but a big part of the movie's legend is how no one working on it thought they were making anything special and saw it as simply one more product of the studio grind. They were caught quite off guard by its gaining the reputation of one of the greatest movies in history.
  • Award Snub: Considering the movie did win Best Picture and Best Director awards, it's not a major complaint. But Humphrey Bogart - giving perhaps one of the most iconic performances in the history of the medium as Rick Blaine - lost out Best Actor to Paul Lukas for Watch on the Rhine, Claude Rains lost Best Supporting Actor to Charles Coburn for The More the Merrier, and Ingrid Bergman wasn't even nominated for Best Actress (instead being cited for her work in For Whom the Bell Tolls).
  • Awesome Music: At least twice...
    • When Victor Laszlo leads the crowd in Rick's in La Marseillaise to drown out the Nazis' "Die Wacht am Rhein". Doubles as a Moment of Awesome for Victor.
    • Start humming it people. "You must remember this / A kiss is still a kiss / A sigh is just a sigh..."
  • Designated Hero: Nobody is going to look at the Nazis as anything but villains after they invaded Europe and drove much of the cast of characters to Casablanca as refugees, but no mention is made in the film of Morocco being a French protectorate that had violently suppressed rebellions against colonial rule.
  • Director Displacement: Michael Curtiz won the Academy Award for Best Director, but that's about all the acclaim he's ever gotten for this movie. Film historians and critics usually credit the producer, Hal B. Wallis, and the various writers (Julius and Philip Epstein, Howard Koch, and the uncredited Casey Robinson) for the creative direction of the film. At times Curtiz has been called a "journeyman hack" or a "hired gun". The fiasco of one of his earlier movies, "Noah's Ark" (during which three extras were killed due directly to Curtiz's irresponsibility), no doubt also contributes to critics' reluctance to tie him to "the Greatest Movie Ever Made." His overall career was a success, however: He directed 173 films, starting in 1912, and didn't miss a year until his death in the early 1960s. Many are unremarkable, but there are at least a dozen that are still well-regarded.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Captain Renault, who extorts sex from desperate woman, even married women — a Leonine Contract of consent, at best — but is both very charming and has the card-carrying Nazi Major Strausser pushing him around to make him more sympathetic.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • With so many famous actors all over the cast, this is likely inevitable. (For instance, Peter Lorre fans will easily say their favorite character is Ugarte, despite his appearing in only two scenes.)
    • This also follows for Sydney Greenstreet who portrayed Signor Ferrari. His character had a larger role than Ugarte, but still a minor role in general.
    • Sam, for playing an iconic number, and being a close and loyal friend to Rick.
    • Yvonne is well-remembered for her role in La Marseillaise where she sang in pride with genuine tears in her eyes. Her actress being the last surviving member of the cast certainly helps.
    • For a character with more screen time, Captain Renault is well-liked for having a redemption arc similar to Rick's, and shows signs that cared about Rick even before hand.
  • Evil Is Cool: Major Heinrich Strasser isn't just you're average Nazi who barks orders at his servants, he's actually a very interesting character with as much depth as the other characters.
  • Fair for Its Day: As wince worthy as Ilsa calling Sam "boy" is, otherwise he's treated with respect by all of the other characters; of course, he is Rick's confidante, business partner, and the only one able to call Rick out on anything without getting snarked into oblivion.
  • Fridge Brilliance:
    • The average person can probably figure out that the movie is a metaphor for America joining the War. It's re-examining little details in the movie where the brilliance kicks in. Case in point; the famous scene where Rick grouses that, over in America, people are "asleep." He means it both literally, due to time differences, and metaphorically, due to their unwillingness to oppose Axis tyranny and determination to stay out of the conflict.
    • Rick being America personified adds new meaning to the last thing Ilsa says to him: "God bless you." ("God bless America.")
    • One for Peter Lorre fans. Ugarte fires four shots while trying to escape the police. Most handguns (in movies at least) contain six bullets. He already used two bullets on the two Nazi couriers.
    • The "La Marseillaise" scene becomes even more brilliant if you know that "Die Wacht am Rhein", the song the German officers were singing, had origins rooted in the historical French-German enmity.
      • It's well-known that the scene was a Shout-Out to a similar scene involving those songs in The Grand Illusion, but since Casablanca was set in the present day, it's possible that the characters had all seen The Grand Illusion (which had been a major hit in France) and were deliberately re-enacting it. (Of course, with Marcel Dalio in both films, that opens up a Celebrity Paradox).
      • Real Life Writes the Plot: Producer Hal Wallis wanted to use the "Horst Wessel Song," the official Nazi anthem, but could not because when production began, it was still protected by copyright!
      • Also, there's the fact that the Germans are playing the song on not just any piano, but Sam's piano, and almost certainly didn't ask Sam himself nicely about giving up his seat. Rick's decision to back up Victor is as much a personal reaction to the Germans snubbing his friend and business partner (and him by association, since it's Rick's cafe) as a display of sympathy for the refugees.
    • When Renault says they can't decide whether Ugarte committed suicide or died trying to escape, it's possible he was being serious. After all, Suicide by Cop is a real method for people who don't want to be in jail, but aren't willing to take their own lives. It's possible Ugarte knew he would die if he tried to escape and preferred that to being in the custody of the Nazis.
  • Genius Bonus: Bogart's eyes are brown - not that viewers could tell that, since Bogart had appeared only in black and white films until that point.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • "I bet they're asleep all over America." From the date on the marker Rick signs at the very beginning, the movie runs from December 2 to December 5, and given that all goes well, Victor will arrive in the US on December 7, 1941, just in time for America to "wake up".
    • Victor's defiant line "Even Nazis can't kill that fast." This was written before the general public knew of the millions of Jews in Nazi concentration camps being killed at an unprecedented speed via methods like gas chambers.
    • Peter Lorre's Ugarte screaming for Rick to "Hide me!" as he is about to be apprehended (and killed) by the Nazis. Lorre was a Jewish actor born in Austria, who worked in Germany until the Nazis came to power. He ended up departing for France and later to America.
    • Marcel Dalio plays the roulette table minder. His most famous role outside of Casablanca was as a Jewish businessman drafted in the French army in World War I in The Grand Illusion and shortly before his exile from France, as an ineffectual French noble in The Rules of the Game. Combined with the repeated hints that most of Rick's staff have fallen very far from their formal social station, it can be a little discomforting.note 
    • Although the war ended with both France and Norway liberated from the Nazis, Victor Laszlo's homeland of Czechoslovakia sadly traded one occupying power for another - trapped on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain until the Velvet Revolution of 1989, an event Laszlo might not even live to see (although the actor who played him, Paul Henreid, lived until 1992). What's even more tragic is that Czechoslovakia did attempt to break free of the Communist yoke in the Prague Spring of 1968, only for the Warsaw Pact to brutally put it down without any reprisals from the West, essentially the anti-World War II in that regard (although it was instrumental in finally turning most Western Communist parties against the totalitarian Soviet Union once and for all).
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Rick's advice to Major Strasser: "There are parts of New York I'd advise you not to try and invade." In two episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise, the Nazis do invade New York, and the resistance is mostly made up of all the gangs and mobsters banding together.
    • This might also have been an in-joke on Warner Brothers' part—the previous year, Bogart had been playing a New York gangster fighting a group of Nazis led by Veidt in All Through the Night.
    • The famous line "play it Sam" has often been misquoted as "play it again, Sam". In fact, when Ilsa asks Sam to play "As Time Goes By", she says to only play it once.
    • At the same time this was in production, Paul Henreid was in another film involving an adulterous Love Triangle - Now, Voyager. This time, he's the one committing adultery and ends up staying with his wife to make for a Bittersweet Ending (the famous lines affirming this are also quite similar - "We'll always have Paris" and "Don't let's ask for the moon; we have the stars"). And Claude Rains stars in both!
  • Ho Yay:
    • Louis is often interpreted as Ambiguously Gay, despite his habit of pulling the Scarpia Ultimatum on women. Even Roger Ebert called him "subtly homosexual" in his review of the film - apparently he has never heard of bisexuals and it doesn't occur to him Renault might just be In Touch with His Feminine Side.
    • Ebert would later amend his view slightly, stating in his 2007 review of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford that he thinks Renault "plays for both teams".
    • Just about every male character in the movie has at least one Ho Yay moment with Rick.
      Renault: Rick is the kind of man that... well, if I were a woman, and I were not around, I should be in love with Rick.
    • Honorable Mention must also go to Ugarte, who really loves to invade Rick's personal space. Of course, this is just part of Peter Lorre's trademark style of acting. Ugarte may not come across as exactly "gay" or "bisexual" so much as simply an eccentric who will half-consciously make love to anything that gets too close. (His cigarette got the most action.) Although...
      Rick:: First they grab Ugarte then she walks in. One in, one out...
      • ...almost seems to imply Rick had the same kind of relationship with Ugarte that he had with Ilsa.
    • Strasser seems to be checking Renault out several times during the movie. Right after their conversation about bumbling Americans and Germans, Strasser says "As for Laszlo, we want him watched 24 hours a day" and blatantly eyes Renault's crotch and licks his lips before taking a puff off his cigarette. Hard to say whether that's Strasser checking Renault out or Veidt checking Rains out, though. Conrad Veidt's bisexuality was an open secret, one reason he was on the Nazi shit-list (the other being that his wife was Jewish, and he defiantly listed himself as Jewish as well).
  • Homegrown Hero: It's set in the titular Moroccan city during World War II, where refugees from all of Europe gather to escape Those Wacky Nazis - and the main character is the American expatriate who runs the local nightclub.
  • Idiot Plot: A huge deal of needless drama could’ve been solved had Rick had the good sense to talk to Ilsa like an adult about why she’d left, or at least the good sense to stay sober enough to listen.
  • It Was His Sled: The plane scene and "We'll always have Paris" is very obvious. It was even the iconic scene shown at Disney's Hollywood Studios' The Great Movie Ride.
  • Memetic Mutation: A good chunk of lines from the film have become considerably memorable. Notable is "Play it again, Sam", but they don't say these words exactly.
    • "This looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
    • "I am shocked, SHOCKED to find that (insert not-so-shocking event)."
    • "Round up the usual suspects"... which inspired The Usual Suspects.
    • "Here's looking at you, kid."
    • "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine."
    • "Vultures, vultures everywhere!" (spoken by one of the vultures)
    • "The lives of two people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world." Hell, pretty much that entire monologue.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Peter Lorre as Ugarte (also something of a Dead Star Walking).
    • Sidney Greenstreet as Ferrari.
    • Plenty of customers trying to get out of Casablanca from the first scene at Ricks who have conversations indicating tension filled adventures of their own.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: There's a contingent of movie fans and critics - viewing the plot as contrived and the production values rather common - who cannot comprehend the sheer love people have for this film when it comes to the performances and witty banter. Granted, a lot of romantic thrillers post-Casablanca tried to repeat the same script but could never recapture the spark of this film.
  • Testosterone Brigade: There are some who just watch the movie to drool over classic screen beauty Ingrid Bergman at the height of her stardom.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: The public's consensus regarding the 1980s colorized version.
    Stephen Bogart (Humphrey's son): ...if you're going to colorize Casablanca, why not put arms on the Venus de Milo?
  • Values Dissonance:
    • In the first scene inside Rick's, Sam is singing "Shine".
    • Similarly, Ilsa referring to the adult Sam (played by an actor almost 30 years older than her) as a "boy."
    • In the scene where Rick sells the Cafe to Ferrari. To his credit, he makes sure that Sam gets a decent cut of the profits, but they way they talk about him makes it sound like Rick is selling Sam as part of the Cafe. Then again, he is on staff along with the others named in the scene — Abdul (bouncer for casino) Sasha (bartender) and Karl (cafe manager & bookkeeper). Arguably lampshaded near the beginning of the film in the scene where Ferrari tried to "buy" Sam; Rick responded with "I'm not in the business of selling people".
    • Rick having to remind Sascha to escort the drunk woman home and then come right back. Sascha's disappointed "Yes, boss" implies that he'd been hoping to take advantage of the situation.
    • Even back in the day, Renault's use of the Scarpia Ultimatum was supposed to come across as scummy and rotten. But given his charming, likable demeanour and apparently sincere Heel–Face Turn by the end of the film, it's apparent that nearly a century's worth of civil rights and feminism have made it even more scummy than that.
  • Values Resonance: Despite how much society has changed in the seven decades since this film was released, there are still millions of refugees in The New '10s trying to find their way to freedom in more peaceful lands. Many of them come from lands that aren't that far from Casablanca.
    Noah Isenberg: "Nearly all of the some seventy-five actors and actresses cast in Casablanca were immigrants. Among the fourteen who earned a screen credit, only three were born in the United States: Humphrey Bogart, Dooley Wilson, and Joy Page, Jack Warner’s stepdaughter, who plays the Bulgarian refugee Annina Brandel. At the studio, Stage 8, where Rick’s Café was assembled, was known as International House...Hailing from more than thirty different nations, the majority of refugee actors in the film served merely as day players, performing small parts—generally either as Nazis or as refugees fleeing the Nazis—most without significant dialogue. Among them, however, were many distinguished European artists with illustrious pasts on stage and screen."
  • Watch It for the Meme: Watch it for any of the most famous lines; possibly even watch it for the Beam Me Up, Scotty!, as many people now realize that it isn't "Play it again, Sam." In fact, the majority of this movie's most famous lines are in the end scene, causing it to practically overdose on Memetic Mutation in the last ten minutes or so.


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