Lines To Love: Famous Casablanca Edition


On Monday (see post here), I spoke at length about the classic film, Casablanca. I also ended the post with a quiz, asking you, dear readers, whether you knew a few of the famous lines for which the movie is best known. I only used one in the post from last week: Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.

Today, I’m going to list those lines that I purposefully left out on Monday. They are classic. They’ve made their way into the American popular jargon; that’s how classic they are. In fact, some people quote these famous lines and don’t actually know where they came from. 

If you are unfamiliar with the ending of this film, I feel I must warn you. This post contains spoilers. That’s simply unavoidable, as some of the most well known lines from the movie occur in the final climactic scene. 

Play it, Sam

This quote comes at the scene where Ilsa has just walked into Rick’s gin joint, you know, that gin joint of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world…

At this point, we learn that Ilsa has not realized that Rick is also in Casablanca. However, when she sees Sam, the piano player and Rick’s companion and closest friend, she knows Rick is there and that their meeting is inevitable. She greets Sam and then, as only Ingrid Bergman can, asks him to play some of the old songs, wrapping it in the warm, sweet exoticism of her voice which somehow smooths the rough edges that surround her brittle past with Rick. Nervous, but obliging, Sam trots out some songs on the piano until Ilsa stops him and says the famous line:

Play it, Sam. Play As Time Goes By.

Of course, later in the film, while deep in his cups, Rick echoes this sentiment and the long suffering Sam plays the movies inadvertent anthem, As Time Goes By. (Woody Allen did an excellent parody of sorts called Play It Again, Sam, which contains numerous tips of the hat to Casablanca and well as other classics starring Humphrey Bogart.)

Here’s looking at you, kid. 

This line is quite wonderful and used several times throughout the movie. The first time we’re treated to its utterance is during the flashback to Paris when Rick and Ilsa are falling in love. Rick is toasting to their newfound happiness when Ilsa has a sober moment in which she worries about the future with the threat of the Nazi invasion looming large in the foreground. Rick dismisses her worries gently. When she drops her head, he lifts her chin and toasts with these now immortal words: 

Here’s looking at you, kid.

Of course, he says it later in the film, too, but I’ll not recount that portion for you. You’ll have to find it for yourself when you watch the movie. (There is also a rather delightful take on this line between Colin Firth and Stephen Baldwin in the film Relative Values. There's also a pretty hilarious scene in The Return of the Pink Panther with Peter Sellers where he whips this line out hilariously while in disguise as Monsieur Guy Gadbois.)

If that plane leaves the ground and you're not with him, you'll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.

In the final climatic scene of the movie, the audience is left on the edge of their seats wondering how the two lovers will make out. In the preceding scenes, the stage is set for Rick and Ilsa to fly off into the sunset, but that’s not the way of it. Aside from the fact that there’s a plethora of fog rather than sunlight, just as Captain Renault sagaciously observed, Rick is far more of a sentimentalist that he’s given credit of being. He can’t betray Victor Laszlo. Instead of stealing away with Ilsa, Rick makes her go with her husband. I believe the reason for this is two fold: 1. Rick sees the caliber of man that Victor Laszlo is. He understands how Ilsa is intrinsic to helping Laszlo continue in his mission with the resistance. 2. I believe Rick understands the fiber of Ilsa’s character; she would never forgive herself if her actions of abandoning her husband led to his inability to continue in his work. Rick lets Isla go because he loves who she is enough to realize she could never be happy on those terms, and because he knows he could never be truly happy unless Ilsa was happy. (This line is rather brilliantly parodied in the Frasier episode 'It’s Hard to Say Good-bye If You Won’t Leave.’)

Ilsa, I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.

Genius line. Why? Because the problems of these three little people amount to a microcosm of all the problems facing the world at that time. The multifaceted nature of Victor, Ilsa, and Rick allow them to stand as archetypes for the heroes of their time. Victor is the noble hero; Ilsa the noble heart, and Rick, well, Rick is the everyman who is faced with the difficult decisions of life, the man who has been hurt, who has been broken, who has every right to thumb his nose at the world, but who is galvanized to action because at his core, he is a man who prizes justice and truth. I would venture to say that for most of us, Rick is the most relatable. I can identify with him. I understand his struggles and his bitterness, his cynical humor and his sentimentalism. Furthermore, in this very moment in the film, Rick is being a paragon of nobility. Because of that nobility, the resolution of the problems of these three little people significantly impact this crazy world. 

We’ll always have Paris.

Of course, when Rick announces that the letters of transit are to be made out to Victor and Ilsa Laszlo, Ilsa realizes that Rick will not be going with her. She has to say good-bye. This breaks her heart. Tears sheen in her eyes and she implores him, What about us? Rick replies with the iconic:

We’ll always have Paris.

There’s nothing more to say. The love they had and still have is grand, but it belongs to another time and place. They may not be able to carry it into the future together, but they will always have that jewel set in the past. 

Round up the usual suspects.

I think it only fair to tell you that while Casablanca was being filmed, the actors were not certain what ending they would be required to act out. In fact, the screenwriters were equally stumped. You see, the screenplay of this film passed through many hands, all of which contributed a vital part to the whole. First there were the Epstein Brothers who were charged to take the play and transform it into a screenplay. They were best known for their ironic humor and wit when creating an array of colorful characters. However, before they could finish it, they were called away to another project and Howard Koch was brought in to finish the script. Koch laced the screenplay with a melodramatic element, believing that it was important to show the values that were worth making sacrifices for. Under his helming, Victor Laszlo’s character was more fleshed out, and, consequently, Rick as well. Then K. C. Robertson joined the screenwriting cast to bring the romance between Ilsa and Rick to the foreground. What all these screenwriters seemed to have in common was their inability to come up with a satisfying conclusions.

Well, that was true until genius struck the Epstein Brothers while they were on their way to the lot. Seated at a stop light, they both looked at each other and said, Round up the usual suspects. Between that stop light and the studio, they had conjured the iconic ending between Captain Renault and Rick. 

Louie, this looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

This is the concluding line of the film. I would say more about it, but I really, really, really want to encourage you to pull this classic out and watch it for yourself. I don’t think there are enough words to convey the awesomeness derived from watching it. 

We’ve had it all in this film. The highs. The lows. The loving. The losing. And, yet, somehow, when the credits roll, we’re left smiling. I believe that is because, at the end of the day, this movie captures the epitome of love, romance, patriotism, sacrifice, and idealism while housing it in a superb, artistic format. The images are powerful. The acting is nonpareil. The music is captivating and moving. As the playwright Murray Burnett said,  

True yesterday. True today. True tomorrow. That’s my definition of a classic.

What are some movies you consider to be classic? Why? (And, for you Casablanca fans out there, are there any other places you've come across parodies of these famous lines? Looney Toons' CarrotBlanca comes to my mind. Of all the juice joints, in all the towns, in all the counties, in all the worlds, she picks this one...)