|Michael Curtiz Director||previously directed Yankee Doodle Dandy|
Intended only to be a run-of-the-mill romantic drama shot over two weeks, Casablanca capitalized on a legendary screenplay, star power, musicality, and current topics of nationalism, Nazism, and love sacrificed to the grip of World War II, and is commonly regarded as one of the finest American movies ever.
During the final scene, mechanics are shown working on a plane in the background. To keep down production cost a small model plane was used, and small actors were hired to make the scale look appropriate.15 More Trivia
|Julius J. Epstein||Screenplay|
|Philip G. Epstein||Screenplay|
|Humphrey Bogart||Rick Blaine|
|Ingrid Bergman||Ilsa Lund|
|Paul Henreid||Victor Laszlo|
|Claude Rains||Captain Louis Renault|
|Conrad Veidt||Major Strasser|
|Sydney Greenstreet||Signor Ferrari|
|See Full Credits|
A voice-over opening explains that refugees from throughout Europe trying to escape the Nazi advance come to Casablanca in neutral French Morocco in order to get to Lisbon and then to the United States. Unfortunately, due to Nazi influence, it is very expensive to get out of Casablanca, and the corrupt city is a dangerous place to stay.
A group of Nazis begin searching people on the street who might have exit visas, or passports that immediately and without question get people onto a plain ride to Lisbon. The exit visas were stolen off two Nazi spies, who had been murdered. A man tries to flee because he has a criminal past with the Nazis and is shot, shocking the people in the crowded marketplace.
Police Captain Louis Renault welcomes Major Strasser, a high-ranking Nazi official visiting from Germany. Strasser says he has come to Casablanca because a man known as Victor Lazlo is there. Lazlo was put in a concentration camp for distributing papers condemning the Nazi occupation of Paris, and is a well-known member of the resistance. He escaped the concentration camp and managed to evade the Nazis numerous times. He has finally come to Casablanca in the hopes of fleeing to the US before a Nazi assassinates him. Though Lazlo is wanted in Germany and France, Morocco is technically neutral, so Strasser can't arrest him. However, Strasser tells Rennault that the consequences will be dire if he signs a regular exit visa for Lazlo. This means that, even though Lazlo has a great deal of money, his only way to get out of Casablanca is with the stolen exit visas that say no questions asked. Strasser says he is also looking for the exit visas and the murderer of the spies.
Rennault and Strasser go with a group of Nazis and police officers to Rick's Cafe, a bar and casino run by an American named Rick Blaine. The Cafe is a hotspot for all black market trade in Casablanca, and they know this is where Lazlo will come to try and purchase the exit visas.
Rick Blaine is busy running the bar, and refuses to sit with a group of customers, even though they are wealthy and powerful and could reward him. He is strictly into business. A woman with whom he had a brief fling approaches him to try and renew their relationship, but he casually rejects her.
A smugger named Ugarte approaches Blaine and says he has the stolen exit visas and was in on the murder. Blaine says he doesn't want to be concerned with such a political crime as he is completely neutral. Ugarte gives Blaine the visas saying Strasser has been tracking him and he needs it. He says Blaine will be richly rewarded.
Rennault approaches Blaine. The two are good friends who are not in any way loyal to the Nazis (or anything else for that matter). Rennault turns a blind eye to all illegal activity in Blaine's cafe, and Rick lets Rennault win at the (unlicensed) casino. Rennault tells Blaine that he is going to arrest Ugarte for the murder and he wants Strasser to be present for it. Renault also says that a high ranking member of the resistance named Victor Lazlo will be visiting the cafe, and Strasser is making sure the man can't leave Casablanca. Rick bets $10k that he will be able to and Renault takes the bet, though Renault says that if Strasser finds out Rick is helping Lazlo Rick will be assassinated. Neither Rick nor Renault believe that Rick is going to help Lazlo--it is merely a casual game of chance.
With Major Strasser watching, Rennault's men arrest Ugarte, who tries to flee and fires a gun at the Nazis. He begs Blaine to help him, but Blaine says he can't do anything. Besides, he tells Rennault, "I stick my neck out for no one."
That same night, Victor Lazlo shows up looking for exit visas. With him is his beautiful companion Ilsa Lund. Ilsa Lund asks the cafe's pianist--Sam--to play "As Time Goes By." When he does, Rick bursts in demanding he switch the songs. He then sees Ilsa and is shocked. The two know each other.
After the bar closes, Rick gets drunk. Sam comes and tries to put him to bed, refusing to leave (possibly in fear Rick will commit suicide). Ilsa then visits and says she wants to explain what happened between then, but Rick says she is a flirt and she leaves in a rage. Rick then has a flashback to Paris a few years before. Rick and Ilsa has been madly in love, but when the Nazis came Rick had to leave because they wanted him for smuggling guns to enemies of the Italians. Rick and Ilsa agreed to meet at the train station to leave, but at the agreed time, Ilsa wasn't there. She sent him a letter saying she couldn't be with him and couldn't explain why. Miserable, Rick left.
In the present day, Victor and Ilsa go to Rennault's police station as he asked them to. He explains he isn't going to give them exit visas and that they should follow Major Strasser's orders. Strasser says he will only release Victor if Victor gives a list of the people working for the resistance in Paris.
Rennault's men go to Rick's cafe and ransack it looking for the visas, though Rennault tells Strasser very clearly he thinks Rick would have hidden it too well.
Victor goes to a powerful crimelord to see if he can get illegal visas while Ilsa looks around at the market. She meets Rick, who had just left the crimelord (who had been trying to purchase the exit visas, which Rick denied he had). Rick apologizes for the night before and asks that she say what she meant to, but she says their is no use because he isn't the man she fell in love with. Rick asks her if she left him for Lazlo, or if there were other men in between. As Ilsa storms off, Lazlo says she was married to Lazlo before she even met Rick.
Ilsa goes to the restaurant where Victor and the crimelord have been talking. The crimelord says he can't get Victor out of the country but might be able to do it for Ilsa. Ilsa refuses to go, telling Victor that she loves him to much and that he stayed for her several times when it risked his own life. The crimelord then says he believes Rick has the special exit visas (letters of transit) and they should go find him.
That night, Strasser tells Renault that he thinks that even though he can't let Victor Lazlo leave Casablanca, he is a famous revolutionary and might stir up trouble if he stays. He implies he is strongly considering sending an assassin to kill Victor.
Rick is sitting in the cafe when he is approached by a girl who is about seventeen years old. The girl says that Renault said he would get her and her husband out of the country if she agreed to have sex with him. She feels she can't tell her husband but thinks the shame of the act and the guilt of lying to him would ruin their lives, but she says she needs to leave. She then says she thinks she probably will agree to do what Rennault wishes, but says Renault sent her to Rick so Rick would assure her that Renault would keep her promise to sign an exit visa. Rick says Renault would keep his agreement.
Rick then, on an impulse, goes to the casino where the girl's husband is gambling in a desperate attempt to make the money so they can leave. He fixes the game so the man wins, effectively giving the man his own money (since he owns the casino). Everyone who knows Rick congratulates him and says it is wonderful what he did, and the girl thanks him profusely. Renault says that he'll let it slide this time, but the next day he will have a gorgeous blonde that Rick mustn't help (Renault's friendship to Rick keeps him from being particularly angry, though he is surprised at Rick's selflessness).
Victor approaches Rick and asks that they speak privately. In Rick's room, Victor says he has a great deal of money with which to buy the letters on transit. Rick refuses to give it to him. When Victor asks why, Rick says "ask your wife!"
As Victor and Rick exit Rick's room, they see a group of Nazis have taken the piano and are boisterously singing a Nazi march song. Most of the other guests, many of whom are French, are uncomfortable and angry, but aren't acting out of fear. Victor rushes up to the band and orders them to play the French national anthem. The band members look to Rick, their boss, who nods that they should do so. Victor and the band play the anthem and entire cafe joins in, bringing tears of patriotism to their eyes. Enraged, Strasser orders Renault to shut down the cafe. Renault says he has no reason, but Strasser says he must find one (even though Strasser has no official power of Renault, it is implied he would have Renault assassinated if he refuses). Renault then closes the cafe due to unlicensed gambling, but before he leaves he stops to collect his winnings from that night.
As everyone exits, Strasser tells Ilsa that should encourage Victor to tell him the information or Victor will die.
That night, Victor goes to a meeting of the resistance. Ilsa then goes and visits Rick. Rick tells her that she needs the letters of transit and tries to kiss him. He refuses and orders her out. She then pulls out a gun and threatens to kill him. Rick says he will be doing her a favor, and encourages her to shoot him. Ilsa then says she can't because she still loves him.
Rick then lets her explain why she left him. She says that before she met Rick she was married to Victor, but because he was such a powerful member of the resistance and privy to many secrets, it wasn't safe to let anyone know. Then Victor was captured and sent to a concentration camp, and Ilsa received word he had died. Distraught, she wandered around Paris contemplating suicide where she met Rick. Though she was really in love with him, she didn't dare tell about her past since she didn't want to put him or herself in danger. Then, on the day she was supposed to meet Rick at the train, she got word that Victor was alive and had escaped the concentration camp and was hiding in Paris, but that he was very sick. She knew if she told the truth to Rick he would be so distraught he wouldn't leave Paris and would be arrested by the Nazis, so she just abandoned him.
Ilsa then says she can't stop pretending and says she really loves Rick and kisses him. Then she says she can't decide her fate anymore and Rick can choose what to do, and she says that most of her wants him to marry her and have her stay with him in Casablana while Victor is given a letter in order to escape. Rick thinks, and then says he has made his decision.
Victor and a waiter who works for Rick burst into the cafe trying to hide, since the resistance meeting was broken up by Strasser. Since Ilsa is upstairs, Victor doesn't see her, and she is able to slip out. Rick then goes to Victor and asks why he is such a patriot. Victor replies says it is what is needed and that he believes everyone can and should be. The Nazis then burst in and arrest Victor.
Rick goes to the crimelord and sells him the cafe with the understanding the crimelord keeps all the employees with their current wages. Rick then visits Renault at the police station. He says that Renault can't keep Victor very long since he doesn't have much evidence. He then offers Renault a deal: Renault releases Victor and Rick tells Victor that he will sell him the visas (which Rick admits he has), but instead has Renault eves-drop on the deal. Renault can then arrest Victor for a crime serious enough to hand him over to Strasser. Renault asks what Rick gets and he says he plans to leave Casablanca with the tickets along with Ilsa, who he loves. Renault agrees.
Victor and Ilsa go to the cafe to pick up the letters of transit. As the deal is made, Renault bursts out and arrests Victor. While Renault is doing this, Rick pulls out a handgun and tells Renault that he WILL shoot. He then orders Renault to take Victor and Ilsa and him to the airport.
Under Rick's orders, Renault calls the airport so the officials will let them in. Strasser is informed of this call and becomes suspicious, and rushes to the airport.
Rick and his company arrive first. Rick says to Victor that Ilsa didn't love Rick anymore and only visited to get the visas and pretended to lvoe him(Victor is not angry to hear Ilsa visited Rick when Rick tells it that way). Ilsa knows Rick doesn't believe this, as it is not the truth, but she stays quiet. Ilsa and Victor then leave Casablanca on the plane using the visas.
Rick says Renault can arrest him now. As Renault does so, Strasser rushes up. He says to Renault that the plane can still be stopped if Renault calls the air traffic control tower before the plane leaves its range. Renault is hesitant, so Strasser rushes over to do it himself. Rick objects and the two get into a gunfight. Rick succeeds in killing Strasser, but the shots alert a group of Nazis and police officers. They run over to see what is amiss, but Renault says that they just found the body and they should "round up the usual suspects." When this lie is discovered, Renault will be wanted by the Nazis, but he is okay with it.
Renault and Rick then leave Casablanca together (using the money Rick got from selling the cafe to live comfortably elsewhere). As they walk into the mist, Rick tells Renault "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
Casablanca was a huge hit at the Academy Awards. It was nominated for (bold indicates a category it won in):
Outstanding Motion Picture (Best Picture) - Win
Best Director--Michael Curtiz - Win
Best Film Editing
Best Actor--Humphrey Bogart
Best Writing, Screenplay - Win
Best Supporting Actor--Claude Rains
While nowadays, the movie is considered a classic, it was not an easy win. Several of the other nine nominees, such as For Whom the Bell Tolls, had been predicted by some as the most likely to win.
The American Film Institute (AFI) is a collection of film lovers who pay for membership to honor movies. The society's most recent list of the hundred greatest American films of all time has Casablanca at number 3, behind only The Godfather and Citizen Kane.
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