Bogart movies are almost as bad as Shakespeare and the Bible for having familiar quotes that no one quite remembers the sources or contexts of.
Casablanca won three Academy Awards.
I have always loved wild, exotic, chaotic border cities, cities with bazaars and belly dancers, bargaining and bribery. I keep my wallet in my front pocket, don’t drink the water, and float through the human flood, taking in sounds, smells and lilting tongues of a thousand cultures and histories.
The fictional Casablanca* is just such a place. Bogey plays an ex-pat American, calloused over emotionally, and while everyone knows he has a soft, romantic heart inside him, he does his gruff best to hide it and pretend stoney-faced neutrality.
The past never sleeps, though, and the one love of his life, the source of the heartbreak that raised the scaffolding of his walls, comes into his cafe. “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine,” as he famously says to a bottle.
It is not entirely coincidence. The Nazis are marching across Europe, and many people fleeing toward America are funneled through the town of Casablanca, Morocco, and “Everybody goes to Rick’s.”
Her breaking of his heart makes sense, when he hears her story, but the heartbreak is no less for it. He must make choices, any of which will crumble the defenses he has built to protect his wounded soul.
Ultimately, he does the noble thing, but still maintains a rapscallion swagger and a thumbing of his nose at the authorities, even if it risks his life. And all throughout, he talks in the noir similes that make dialog of the time so memorable. Hard-boiled poetry. Handy with a gun, handy with the ladies, taking no guff from anyone.
“The stuff that dreams are made of,” to quote another Bogey flick.
Casablanca (1942) directed by Michael Curtiz, starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre and Dooley Wilson as “Sam.”
*I am aware Casablanca is a real city in Morocco — but it’s not the movie Casablanca.