Casablanca quotes still resonate in real life

The following post was written abut five years ago, but the real life references still resonate with the quotes. Please share with me your thoughts and overlooked quotes.

One of my favorite movies is “Casablanca” and, from its ranking on the list of greatest movies, I am not alone in my admiration. A love triangle is set in the context of the outset of World War II after Germany took possession of France. But, it is also filled with an interesting plot and characters played by marvelous actors who say some wonderfully written lines primarily written by Julius and Philip Epstein.

In another list of the 100 greatest movie quotes, lines from “Casablanca” appears six times. These and other lines from the movie still resonate today as a reflection of our times. Here are a few from memory, so I will likely misquote them.

We will always have Paris – Rick (Humphrey Bogart) says this a couple of times to Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) as a reminder of their relationship where they met. To me, this reminds us of our own special places that mean so much, whether it is a love interest or a special time in our lives.

Louie, I think this is the beginning of beautiful friendship – A key subplot is the relationship between Rick and Captain Louie Renault (Claude Rains), which is friendly, but with some distance. When they come together at the end to go fight the Germans, it lifts your spirits to see the two walk off together with a mission and true bond of kinship.

I am shocked, shocked there is gambling going on here – Captain Renault is asked to close Rick’s (a bar) at the behest of Nazi Major Heinrich Strasser (Conradt Veight) and used gambling as the reason, even though it is routine. The line is followed by the pit boss handing him his winnings. This reminds me of politicians, who know or allow a problem to occur, and then act shocked when the problem does occur.

Human life is cheap – This evil line is uttered by Major Strasser and gives me chills. People traveled to Casablanca to get transport to America, but must wait to bribe or pay heavily for papers to get out. This reminds me of the refugees who are being exploited by opportunist to sell them unsafe passage to Europe. Whether they get there is irrelevant.

Round up the usual suspects – This is a key line in the movie that is used often. Captain Renault uses it several times to convey that he is doing something about a crime, but actually is doing nothing. It is also how the writers figured out the ending, which they were struggling with. I find this line is also indicative of politicians who are good at pretending to do something, when they are actually doing nothing. Over 50 repeal votes of Obamacare is too easy an example.

Here’s looking at you kid – Rick, who is older than Ilsa, uses this line to show great affection, usually touching her chin lightly to look into her eyes. It plays an important part in Rick’s journey back. It reminds me of lines we use with each other that mean more than the words themselves. In the movie “Ghost” the line “Ditto” had huge meaning in the plot, e.g.

Play it for me Sam. Play “As Time Goes By” – I probably misquoted this misquoted line from Ilsa, which usually is seen as “play it again Sam.” Sam (Dooley Wilson), who has a velvet voice sings this melancholic song which lilts often through the movie. Like Paris, it reminds the two lovers of better times, as Sam who has always accompanied Rick when he sets up a bar, would play it for the two of them. We each have milestone songs that take us back in time. This may be music’s greatest gift.

Play it. Play La Marseillaise – To me, this is the most powerful moment in the movie. You see first hand the leadership and bravery of Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) as he asks the band to play the French national anthem to drown out the Nazi bar singers. In an interview, the Jewish writers said it gave them chill bumps as they wrote it. Leaders like this are few and far between and are much needed, as their quiet fortitude speaks louder than any bombastic chest beater.

Welcome back to the fight – This line is uttered by Victor to Rick as they say goodbye. It is a major moment of recognition of the noble efforts of Rick that are not unnoticed by one who does them all of the time. Today, we need more folks who are willing to speak their mind against tyranny, bigotry, disenfranchisement and hatred.

I realize I left off several key lines for space reasons. I also recognize I left off the contributions of Peter Lorre* and Sidney Greenstreet who added so much color to the movie. Let me know what you think and please share your favorites. As time goes by…

*Note: A very underrated singer/ songwriter is Al Stewart, whose opening stanza to “Year of the Cat” is a reference to Lorre who appeared in a couple of Bogart movies. This is what I remember most about Lorre in Casablanca.

“On a morning from a Bogart movie
In a country where they turn back time
You go strolling through the crowd like Peter Lorre
Contemplating a crime”

23 thoughts on “Casablanca quotes still resonate in real life

  1. Note to Readers: One of the neat things about Casablanca is the use of shadows in the filming. One character would be offscreen talking, but you could see his/ her shadow from the streetlights coming in through the window. Then, the characters would alternate and you’d see the other one while the previously shown actor would be seen by his/ her shadow. Another neat item is the use of humor by Bogart to deflect scrutiny from the Nazis or the prefect. A good example is:

    Rick: “I came here for the waters.”
    Louie: “There are no waters in Casablanca.”
    Rick: “Well it seems I was misinformed.”

  2. “We will always have Paris”, this amazing classic quote!
    I did not know that stanza in “Year of the Cat” referred to the movie. Thank you, I learned something new today 👍

    • Erika, thanks. Although, it was not specific, he would most likely be “Casablanca,” although “Maltese Falcon” would be a possibility. Keith

      • True. I like to think of him in “Casablanca” in the song as he had stolen the letters of transit and killed the courier.

  3. One of the reasons why Casablanca is one of my favorites is because it captures the tension and worldwide conflict of its times and crystalizes them perfectly. Watching Casablanca feels like opening up a time capsule that also tells a timeless story of love and duty.

  4. A man after my own heart, for this is indeed among my favourite movies! My most oft-quoted (and mis-quoted) line is: “Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday and for the rest of your life!” And then there’s: “Here’s looking at you, kid” … another classic. Thanks for stirring these great memories!

  5. Pingback: ♫ Marrakesh Express ♫ | Filosofa's Word

    • Thanks Cindy. I agree on both counts. I just wrote on Jill’s post that many of the actors hurried through “Casablanca” as they did not think it would be very good. They wanted to get to their next film. The may have been off on that conclusion. I think many of the next films did not fare near as well as they thought. Keith

  6. Note to Readers: There are many sidebar stories in the movie, some involving actual refugees from he Nazi invasions. One of the stories is where a young woman is speaking with Rick to see if she should trust the Prefect if she sleeps with him to garner an exit visa for her and her husband. This is where Rick allows her husband to win at his gambling tables to pay the Prefect for the exit visa. The Prefect is not happy with this result, but admires Rick for his valor.

  7. When I first heard “Year of the cat” in 1975, I couldn’t understand the lyrics. ‘You go strolling through the crowd like Peter Lorre contemplating a crime’ is what it sounded like he’s singing, but why? No one else understood the lyrics, either, but no one else seemed interested. These were pre-Internet days when answers came fitfully. I was sure that he was singing, ‘You go strolling through the crowd like Peter Lorre contemplating a crime’. WHY? Eventually I read the background somewhere in a Sunday newspaper, bringing illumination at last.

    I always liked the shadow and lighting to this movie, and the subtle way the actors used their expressions, especially their eyes, and their body language. I think the movie was brilliant in that way. The other movie where I think so much is spoken with eyes and expressions is “The African Queen”, especially when Charlie Allnut must go into the leech infested waters to fix the propeller.

    Returning to “Casablanca”. Such a brilliant movie. Simple, complex, and basic, at once. It’s a net trick. No wonder I was moved to buy a jigsaw puzzle of the original “Casablanca” poster to help pass the winter nights last year.


    • Michael, thanks for the thoughtful and thought provoking comment. Those lyrics do seem odd without the knowledge of seeing Peter Lorre in the movie. You are right about “African Queen,” in general, and with that specific scene. To go back into the water after being cleaned of leeches clearly pains Mr. Allnut, as she calls him. I would love to so a jigsaw puzzle of movie posters. That would be a nice quest. Keith

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