Casablanca (film)

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Directed by Michael Curtiz
Produced by Hal B. Wallis
Written by Julius J. Epstein,
Philip G. Epstein,
Howard Koch
Starring Humphrey Bogart,
Ingrid Bergman,
Paul Henreid,
Claude Rains,
Conrad Veidt,
Sydney Greenstreet,
Peter Lorre
S.Z. Sakall
Distributed by Warner Brothers
Release date(s) November 26, 1942
Running time 102 min.
Language English
Budget $950,000 (est.)
IMDb profile

Casablanca is a 1942 romantic film set during World War II in the Vichy-controlled Moroccan city of Casablanca. The film was directed by Michael Curtiz, and stars Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine and Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa Lund. It focuses on Rick's conflict between, in the words of one character, love and virtue: he must choose between his love for Ilsa and his need to do the right thing by helping her husband, Resistance hero Victor Laszlo, escape from Casablanca and continue his fight against the Nazis.

The film was an immediate hit, and it has remained consistently popular ever since. Critics have praised the charismatic performances of Bogart and Bergman, the chemistry between the two leads, the depth of characterisation, the taut direction, the witty screenplay and the emotional impact of the work as a whole.


Humphrey Bogart plays Rick Blaine, the owner of an upscale club and gambling den in the Moroccan city of Casablanca which attracts a mixed clientele of Vichy French and Nazi officials, refugees and thieves. Rick is a bitter and cynical man, who professes to be neutral in all matters, but still displays a clear dislike for the fascist part of his clientele.

A petty crook, Guillermo Ugarte ( Peter Lorre), arrives in Rick's club with "letters of transit" he has obtained by killing two German couriers. The papers allow the bearer to travel freely around German-controlled Europe, including to neutral Lisbon, Portugal, and from there to the United States. They are almost priceless to any of the continual stream of refugees who end up stranded in Casablanca. Ugarte plans to make his fortune by selling them to the highest bidder, who is due to arrive at the club later that night. However, before the exchange can take place, Ugarte is arrested by the local police, under the command of Rick's friend Captain Renault ( Claude Rains). As a corrupt Vichy official, Renault accommodates the Nazis, but remains ambivalent about their influence in Casablanca. Unbeknownst to either Renault or the Nazis, Ugarte had left the letters with Rick for safekeeping, because "...somehow, just because you despise me, you are the only one I trust."

At this point, the reason for Rick's bitterness re-enters his life. His Norwegian ex-lover, Ilsa Lund ( Ingrid Bergman) arrives with her husband, Victor Laszlo ( Paul Henreid), to purchase the letters. Laszlo is a famous Resistance leader from Czechoslovakia with a huge price placed on his head by the Nazis, and they must have the letters to escape to America to continue his work. At the time Ilsa first met and fell in love with Rick in Paris, she believed her husband had been killed by the Nazis. When she discovered that he was in fact still alive, she left Rick abruptly without explanation and returned to Laszlo, leaving Rick feeling betrayed. After the bar closes, Ilsa returns to try and explain all this, but he bitterly refuses to listen.

The next night, Laszlo, suspecting Rick has the letters, speaks privately with him about obtaining them, but they are interrupted when a group of German officers, led by Major Strasser ( Conrad Veidt), begins to sing " Wacht am Rhein", a German patriotic song from the nineteenth century (the producers wanted to use the more Nazi-oriented " Horst-Wessel-Lied", but it was copyrighted by a German publisher). Infuriated, Laszlo orders the house band to play " La Marseillaise". The band leader looks to Rick for permission; he nods his head. Laszlo starts singing, alone at first; growing patriotic fervor overtakes the crowd and everyone joins in, drowning out the Germans. In retaliation, Strasser orders Renault to close the club.

That night, Ilsa confronts Rick in the deserted cafe. Despite his initial refusal to give her the documents, even when threatened with a gun, Rick eventually decides to help Laszlo. He and Ilsa reaffirm their love for each other and she is led to believe that she will stay with Rick when Laszlo leaves. Renault is forced at gunpoint to assist in the escape. At the last moment, Rick makes Ilsa get on the plane with Laszlo, telling her that she would regret it if she stayed. "Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life." Major Strasser drives up, tipped off by Renault, but Rick shoots him when he tries to intervene. When the police arrive, Renault saves his life by telling them to " Round up the usual suspects". He then suggests to Rick that they both go join the Free French. They disappear into the fog with one of the most memorable exit lines in movie history: "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."


The film was based on Murray Burnett and Joan Alison's then-unproduced play Everybody Comes to Rick's. The story analyst at Warner Brothers who read the play, Stephen Karnot, called it (approvingly) "sophisticated hokum", and story editor Irene Diamond convinced producer Hal Wallis to buy the rights for $20,000, the most anyone in Hollywood had ever paid for an unproduced play. The project was renamed Casablanca, apparently in imitation of the 1938 hit Algiers. Shooting began on May 25, 1942 and was completed on August 3.

The entire film was shot in the studio, except for the sequence filmed at Van Nuys Airport showing the arrival of Major Strasser. The street used for the exterior shots had recently been built for another film, The Desert Song, and was redecorated and used for the Paris flashbacks. It remained on the Warners backlot until the 1960s. The set for Rick's cafe was built in three unconnected parts, so the internal layout of the building is indeterminate. In a number of scenes, the camera looks through a wall from the cafe area into Rick's office. The background of the final scene, which shows a Lockheed Model 12 Electra Junior airplane with personnel walking around it, was staged using midget extras and a proportionate cardboard plane because of budgetary and wartime rationing constraints. Fog was used to mask the model's unconvincing appearance.

Bergman's height caused some problems. She was one and a half inches taller than Bogart, so he sometimes had to stand on boxes or sit on cushions in their scenes together.

The film cost a total of $950,000, slightly over budget, but average for the time. Bogart was called in a month after shooting was finished to dub in the final line ("Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.") Later, there were plans for a further scene, showing Rick, Renault and a detachment of Free French soldiers on a ship, to incorporate the Allies' 1942 invasion of North Africa; however it proved too difficult to get Claude Rains for the shoot, and the scene was finally abandoned after David O. Selznick judged that "it would be a terrible mistake to change the ending."


The original play was inspired by a 1938 trip to Europe by Murray Burnett, during which he visited Vienna shortly after the Anschluss, as well as the south coast of France, which had uneasily coexisting populations of Nazis and refugees. The latter locale provided the inspirations for both Rick's cafe (the nightclub Le Kat Ferrat) and the character of Sam (a black piano player Burnett saw in Juan-les-Pins). In the play, the Ilsa character was an American named Lois Meredith and did not meet Laszlo until after her relationship with Rick in Paris had ended; Rick was a lawyer.

The first main writers to work on the script for Warners were the Epstein twins ( Julius and Philip), who removed Rick's background and added more elements of comedy. The other credited writer, Howard Koch, joined later, but worked in parallel with the Epsteins, despite their differing emphases (Koch highlighting the political and melodramatic elements). Important scenes were also added by the uncredited Casey Robinson, who contributed the series of meetings between Rick and Ilsa in the cafe. Curtiz seems to have favoured the romantic elements, insisting on retaining the flashback Paris scenes. One of the most famous lines— "here's looking at you"— is not in the draft screenplays, and has been attributed to the poker lessons Bogart was giving Bergman in between takes. The final line of the film was written by Wallis after shooting had been completed, and film critic Roger Ebert calls Wallis the "key creative force" for his attention to the details of production (down to insisting on a real parrot in the Blue Parrot bar).

Despite the many different writers, the film has what Ebert describes as a "wonderfully unified and consistent" script. Koch later said that it was the tension between his own approach and that of Curtiz which accounted for this: "surprisingly, these disparate approaches somehow meshed, and perhaps it was partly this tug of war between Curtiz and me that gave the film a certain balance". Julius Epstein would later note that the screenplay contained "more corn than in the states of Kansas and Iowa combined. But when corn works, there's nothing better."

The film ran into some trouble from Joseph Breen of the Production Code Administration (the Hollywood self-censorship body), who opposed the suggestions that Captain Renault extorted sexual favours from his supplicants and that Rick and Ilsa had slept together in Paris. Both, however, remained strongly implied in the finished version.


Wallis' first choice for director was William Wyler, but when Wyler was unavailable, Wallis turned to his close friend Michael Curtiz. Curtiz was a Hungarian Jewish emigre; he had come to the U.S. in the 1920s, but some of his family were refugees from Nazi Europe. Roger Ebert has commented that in Casablanca "very few shots ... are memorable as shots", Curtiz being concerned to use images to tell the story rather than for their own sake. However, he had relatively little input into the development of the plot: Casey Robinson said that Curtiz "knew nothing whatever about story... he saw it in pictures, and you supplied the stories". Critic Andrew Sarris called the film "the most decisive exception to the auteur theory", to which Aljean Harmetz responded that, "nearly every Warner Bros. picture was an exception to the auteur theory". Other critics give more credit to Curtiz: Sidney Rosenweig, in his study of the director's work, sees the film as a typical example of Curtiz's highlighting of moral dilemmas.

The second unit montages, such as the opening sequence of the refugee trail and that showing the invasion of France, were directed by Don Siegel.


The Cross of Lorraine, emblem of the Free French
The Cross of Lorraine, emblem of the Free French

The cinematographer was Arthur Edeson, a veteran who had previously shot The Maltese Falcon and Frankenstein. Particular attention was paid to photographing Bergman: she was shot mainly from her preferred left side, often with a softening gauze filter and with catch lights to make her eyes sparkle. The whole effect was designed to make her face seem "ineffably sad and tender and nostalgic". Bars of shadow across the characters and in the background variously imply imprisonment, the crucifix, the Free French symbol and emotional turmoil.

Dark film noir and expressionist lighting is used in several scenes, particularly towards the end of the picture. Rosenzweig argues that these shadow and lighting effects are classic elements of the Curtiz style, along with the fluid camera work and the use of the environment as a framing device.


The score was written by Max Steiner, who was best known for the musical score for Gone with the Wind. The song " As Time Goes By" by Herman Hupfeld had been part of the story from the original play; Steiner wanted to write his own song to replace it, but he had to abandon his plan because Bergman had already cut her hair short for her next role and could not re-shoot the scenes which mentioned the song. So Steiner based the entire score on it (and " La Marseillaise"), transforming them to reflect the changing moods of the movie. Particularly notable is the "duel of the songs", in which "La Marseillaise" is played by a full orchestra rather than just the small band actually present in Rick's club, competing against the Germans singing " Die Wacht am Rhein" at the piano. Other songs include "It Had to Be You" from 1924 with lyrics by Gus Kahn and music by Isham Jones, "Knock on Wood" with music by M.K. Jerome and lyrics by Jack Scholl and Shine from 1910 by Cecil Mack and Lew Brown with music by Ford Dabney.


Reaction to the film at previews before release was described as "beyond belief". It premiered at the Hollywood Theatre in New York City on November 26, 1942, to coincide with the Allied invasion of North Africa and the capture of Casablanca; it went into general release on January 23, 1943, to take advantage of the Casablanca conference, a high-level meeting between Churchill and Roosevelt in the city. It was a substantial but not spectacular box-office success, taking $3.7 million on its initial U.S. release (making it the seventh best-selling film of 1943). Initial critical reaction was generally positive, with Variety describing it as "splendid anti-Axis propaganda"; as Koch later said, "it was a picture the audiences needed... there were values... worth making sacrifices for. And it said it in a very entertaining way." Other reviews were less enthusiastic: The New Yorker rated it only "pretty tolerable". The Office of War Information prevented screening of the film to troops in North Africa, believing it would cause resentment among Vichy supporters in the region.

The film's theme song, "As Time Goes By", enjoyed its own success, spending 21 weeks on the hit parade. At the 1944 Oscars, the film won three awards; Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture. Wallis' resentment when Jack Warner rather than he collected the best picture award led to the severing of ties between him and the studio in April that year.

The film has maintained its popularity: Murray Burnett has called it "true yesterday, true today, true tomorrow". By 1955 the film had brought in $6.8 million dollars, although this still left it only the third most successful of Warners' wartime movies (behind Shine On, Harvest Moon and This is the Army). On April 21, 1957, the Brattle Theatre of Cambridge, Massachusetts showed the film as part of a season of old movies. It was so popular that it began a tradition of screening Casablanca during the week of final exams at Harvard University which continues to the present day, and it is emulated by many colleges across the United States. Todd Gitlin, a professor of sociology who himself attended one of these screenings, had said that the experience was, "the acting out of my own personal rite of passage". The tradition helped the movie remain popular while other famous films of the 1940s have faded away, and by 1977 Casablanca was the most frequently broadcast film on American television.

However, there has been anecdotal evidence that Casablanca may have made a deeper impression among film-lovers than within the professional movie-making establishment. In the November/December 1982 issue of "American Film", Chuck Ross claimed that he had retyped the screenplay to Casablanca, using the play title Everybody Comes to Ricks; submitting it to 217 agencies. 85 of them read it, of which 38 rejected it outright, 33 generally recognized it (but only eight specifically as Casablanca), three declared it commercially viable, and one suggested turning it into a novel.

Critical response

Critics have subjected Casablanca to many different readings. William Donelley, in his Love and Death in Casablanca, argues that Rick's relationship with Sam, and subsequently with Renault, is, "a standard case of the repressed homosexuality that underlies most American adventure stories". Harvey Greenberg presents a Freudian reading in his The Movies on Your Mind, in which the transgressions which prevent Rick from returning to the US constitute an Oedipus complex, which is resolved only when Rick begins to identify with the father figure of Laszlo and the cause which he represents. Sidney Rosenzweig argues that such readings are reductive, and that the most important aspect of the film is its ambiguity, above all in the central character of Rick; he cites the different names which each character gives Rick (Richard, Ricky, Mr Rick, Herr Blaine and so on) as evidence of the different meanings which he has for each person.

Roger Ebert has claimed that the film is "probably on more lists of the greatest films of all time than any other single title, including Citizen Kane", because of its wider appeal; while Citizen Kane is "greater", Casablanca is more loved. Behlmer also emphasises the variety in the picture: "it’s a blend of drama, melodrama, comedy [and] intrigue". Ebert says that he has never heard of a negative review of the film, even though individual elements can be criticised (he cites the unrealistic special effects and the stiff character/portrayal of Laszlo).

Ebert has also said that the film is popular because "the people in it are all so good". As the Resistance hero, Laszlo is ostensibly the most noble, although he is so stiff that he is hard to like. The other characters, in Rudy Behlmer's words, are "not cut and dried": they come into their goodness in the course of the film. Renault begins the film as a collaborator with the Nazis, who extorts sexual favours from refugees and has Ugarte killed. Rick, according to Behlmer, is "not a hero, ... not a bad guy": he does what is necessary to get along with the authorities and "sticks his neck out for nobody". Even Ilsa, the least active of the main characters, is "caught in the emotional struggle" over which man she really loves. By the end of the film, however, "everybody is sacrificing".

A dissenting note comes from Umberto Eco, who wrote that "by any strict critical standards... Casablanca is a very mediocre film". He sees the changes the characters undergo as inconsistency rather than complexity: "It is a comic strip, a hotch-potch, low on psychological credibility, and with little continuity in its dramatic effects". However, he argues that it is this inconsistency which accounts for the film's popularity by allowing it to include a whole series of archetypes: unhappy love, flight, passage, waiting, desire, the triumph of purity, the faithful servant, the love triangle, beauty and the beast, the enigmatic woman, the ambiguous adventurer and the redeemed drunkard. Centermost is the idea of sacrifice: "the myth of sacrifice runs through the whole film".


Many subsequent films have drawn on elements of Casablanca: Passage to Marseille reunited Bogart, Rains, Curtiz, Greenstreet and Lorre in 1944, while there are many similarities between Casablanca and a later Bogart film, Sirocco. Parodies have included the Marx Brothers' A Night in Casablanca (1946), Woody Allen's Play It Again, Sam (1972), Neil Simon's The Cheap Detective (1978), and Barb Wire (1996), while it provided the title for the 1995 hit The Usual Suspects. Warner Brothers produced its own parody of the film in Carrotblanca, a 1995 Bugs Bunny cartoon. This is included on the special edition DVD release. The website produced a remake of Casablanca in its 30-Second Bunnies Theatre. In the movie Adaptation (2002), Casablanca is referenced as the greatest screenplay of all time, and the aspect of two brothers writing the screenplay is an important thematic device used in the film Adaptation.

Sequels and other versions

Almost from the moment Casablanca became a hit, talk began of producing a sequel. One entitled Brazzaville (in the final scene, Renault recommends that he and Rick flee to the Free French city) was planned, but never produced.

There have been two short-lived television series based upon Casablanca, both of which are considered prequels to the movie. The first aired from 1955 to 1956 (with Charles McGraw as Rick and Marcel Dalio, who played Emil the croupier in the movie, as Renault); it was aired on ABC as part of the wheel series Warner Bros. Presents. Another series, briefly aired on NBC in 1983, starred David Soul as Rick and included Ray Liotta as Sacha and Scatman Crothers as a somewhat elderly Sam.

Media reports have occasionally arisen about plans to either produce a sequel, or an outright remake of Casablanca, but as of 2006 no studio has seriously put such plans into action. François Truffaut refused an invitation to remake the film in 1974, citing the "cult" status of the film among American students as his reason. To date, the only authorized sequel to Casablanca has been the novel, As Time Goes By, written by Michael Walsh and published in 1998. Walsh picks up where the movie leaves off, and also tells of Rick's mysterious past in America. David Thomson provided an unofficial sequel in his 1985 novel Suspects.

Casablanca was also part of the film colorization controversy during the 1980s when a colour version of the film aired on Australian television. This was briefly made available on home video, but its unpopularity with fans caused the altered version to fade away, though the colorized version is still broadcast in other places, such as Hong Kong.

A radio adaptation of the film was broadcast on April 26, 1943, again starring Bogart, Bergman and Henreid, while a second version on January 24, 1944 featured Hedy Lamarr as Ilsa. Julius Epstein made two attempts to turn the film into a Broadway musical, in 1951 and 1967, but neither made it to the stage. The original play, Everybody Comes to Rick's, was produced in Newport, Rhode Island in August 1946, and again in London in April 1991, but met with no success.

In the Spanish dubbing during the Franco era, the fact that Rick had worked for the Second Spanish Republic during the Spanish Civil War was edited out.


The cast is notable for its internationalism: only three of the credited actors were born in the U.S. The three top-billed actors were:

  • Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine. The New York City-born Bogart became a star with Casablanca. Earlier in his career, he had been typecast as a gangster, playing characters called Bugs, Rocks, Turkey, Whip, Chips, Gloves and Duke (twice). High Sierra (1941) had allowed him to play a character with some warmth, but Rick was his first truly romantic role.
  • Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa Lund. Bergman's official website calls Ilsa her "most famous and enduring role". The Swedish actress's Hollywood debut in Intermezzo had been well received, but her subsequent films were not major successes — until Casablanca. Ebert calls her "luminous", and comments on the chemistry between her and Bogart: "she paints his face with her eyes". Other actresses considered for the role of Ilsa had included Ann Sheridan, Hedy Lamarr and Michèle Morgan; Wallis obtained the services of Bergman, who was contracted to David O. Selznick, by giving Olivia de Havilland in exchange.
  • Paul Henreid as Victor Laszlo. Henreid, an Austrian actor who fled Nazi Germany in 1935, was reluctant to take the role (it "set [him] as a stiff forever", according to Pauline Kael), until he was promised top billing along with Bogart and Bergman. Henreid did not get on well with his fellow actors (he considered Bogart "a mediocre actor", while Bergman called Henreid a "prima donna").

The second-billed actors were:

  • Claude Rains as Captain Louis Renault. Rains was an English actor, born in London. He had previously worked with Michael Curtiz on The Adventures of Robin Hood.
  • Sydney Greenstreet as Signor Ferrari, the rival clubowner. Another Englishman, Greenstreet had made his film debut with Lorre and Bogart in The Maltese Falcon.
  • Peter Lorre as Signor Ugarte. Lorre was a Hungarian character actor who left Germany in 1933.
  • Conrad Veidt as Major Strasser of the SS. He was a German actor who had appeared in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) before fleeing from the Nazis and ending his career playing Nazis in U.S. films.

Also credited were:

  • Dooley Wilson as Sam. He was one of the few American members of the cast. A drummer, he could not play the piano. Hal Wallis had considered changing the role of Sam to a female character ( Hazel Scott and Ella Fitzgerald were candidates), and even after shooting had been completed, Wallis considered dubbing over Wilson's voice for the songs.
  • Joy Page as Annina Brandel, the young Bulgarian refugee, the third, credited American, was studio head Jack Warner's step-daughter.
  • Madeleine LeBeau as Yvonne, Rick's soon-discarded girlfriend. The French actress was Marcel Dalio's wife until their divorce in 1942.
  • S.Z. (or S. K.) "Cuddles" Sakall as Carl, the waiter, was a Hungarian actor who fled from Germany in 1939. A friend of Curtiz's since their days in Budapest, his three sisters died in a concentration camp.
  • Curt Bois as the pickpocket, was a German Jewish actor and another refugee. He may have a claim to the longest film career of any actor, making his first appearance in 1907 and his last in 1987.
  • John Qualen as Laszlo's Resistance contact, Berger, was born in Canada, but grew up in America. He appeared in many of John Ford's movies.
  • Leonid Kinskey as Sascha, was born in Russia.

Notable uncredited actors were:

  • Marcel Dalio as Emil the croupier. He had been a star in French cinema, appearing in Jean Renoir's La Grande Illusion and La Regle de Jeu, but after he fled the fall of France, he was reduced to bit parts in Hollywood. He also was a key performer in another of Bogart's films, To Have and Have Not.
  • Helmut Dantine as Jan Brandel, the Bulgarian roulette player. Another Austrian, he had spent time in a concentration camp after the Anschluss.
  • Norma Varden as the befuddled Englishwoman. She was a famous English character actress.

Part of the emotional impact of the film has been attributed to the large proportion of European exiles and refugees among the extras and in the minor roles. A witness to the filming of the "duel of the songs" sequence said he saw many of the actors crying, and, "realised that they were all real refugees". Harmetz argues that these refugees, "brought to a dozen small roles in Casablanca an understanding and a desperation that could never have come from Central Casting". The German citizens among them nevertheless had to keep curfew as enemy aliens, and they were frequently cast as the Nazis from whom they had fled.

Some of the exiled foreign actors were:

  • Wolfgang Zilzer who is shot in the opening scene of the movie, was a silent movie actor in Germany who left when the Nazis took over. He later married Casablanca actress Lotte Palfi.
  • Hans Twardowski as a Nazi officer who argues with a French officer over Yvonne. Born in Stettin, Germany (today Szczecin, Poland), he fled Germany not because he was Jewish, but because he was a homosexual.
  • Ludwig Stössel as Mr. Leuchtag, the German refugee whose English is not so good. Born in Austria, the Jewish actor was imprisoned following the Nazi Anschluss. When he was released, he left for England and then America. Stössel became famous for doing a long series of commercials for Gallo wine producers. Dressed in an Alpine hat and lederhosen, Stössel was their spokesman. His motto was, "That Little Old Winemaker, Me!"
  • Ilka Grünig as Mrs. Leuchtag. Born in Vienna, she was a silent movie star in Germany who came to America after the Anschluss.
  • Lotte Palfi as the refugee trying to sell her diamonds. Born in Germany, she played stage roles at a prestigious theatre in Darmstadt, Germany. She journeyed to America after the Nazis came to power in 1933. She later married another Casablanca actor, Wolfgang Zilzer.
  • Trude Berliner as a baccarat player in Rick's. Born in Berlin, she was a famous cabaret performer and film actress. Being Jewish, she left Germany in 1933.
  • Louis V. Arco as another refugee in Rick's. Born Lutz Altschul in Austria, he moved to America shortly after the Anschluss and changed his name.
  • Richard Ryen as Strasser's aide, Colonel Heinze. The Austrian Jew acted in German films, but fled the Nazis.


Several rumors and misconceptions have grown up around the film, one being that Ronald Reagan was originally chosen to play Rick. This originates in a press release issued by the studio early on in the film's development, but by that time the studio already knew that he was due to go into the army, and he was never seriously considered.

Another well-known story is that the actors did not know until the last day of shooting how the film was to end. The original play (set entirely in the cafe) ended with Rick sending Ilsa and Victor to the airport. During scriptwriting, the possibility was discussed of Laszlo being killed in Casablanca, allowing Rick and Ilsa to leave together, but as Behlmer points out, "there was only one dramatically viable real possibility: Ilsa and Laszlo take the plane". It was certainly impossible for Ilsa to leave Laszlo for Rick, as the production code forbade showing a woman leaving her husband for another man. Such dispute as there was concerned not whether Ilsa would leave with Laszlo, but how this result could be engineered. The confusion was most likely caused by Bergman's later statement that she didn't know which man she was meant to be in love with. While rewrites did occur during the filming, Aljean Harmetz' examination of the scripts has shown that many of the key scenes were shot after Bergman knew how the film would end: any confusion was, in Ebert's words, "emotional", not "factual".

Perhaps the most famous misconception is the belief that Ilsa says "Play it again, Sam." See Quotes for the actual wording.


The film has several logical flaws, the foremost being the two "letters of transit" which enable their bearers to leave Vichy French territory. It is unclear whether Ugarte says the letters had been signed by Vichy General Maxime Weygand or Free French leader General Charles de Gaulle. The English subtitles on the official DVD read "de Gaulle", while the French ones specify "Weygand". listen  Weygand had been the Vichy Delegate-General for the North African colonies until a month before the film is set (and a year after it was written). De Gaulle was at the time the head of the Free French government, the enemy of the Vichy regime controlling Morocco. A Vichy court martial had convicted De Gaulle of treason in absentia and sentenced him to life imprisonment on August 2, 1940. Thus, it seems implausible that a letter signed by him would have been of any benefit. A classic MacGuffin, the letters were invented by Joan Allison for the original play and never questioned. Even within the film, Rick suggests to Renault that the letters would not have allowed Ilsa to escape, let alone Laszlo: "People have been held in Casablanca in spite of their legal rights."

Also, Laszlo says the Nazis cannot arrest him as "This is still unoccupied France; any violation of neutrality would reflect on Captain Renault." However, "It makes no sense that he could walk around freely" in Casablanca, as Ebert points out: "He would be arrested on sight."

Other difficulties include the airport searchlight pointing at the cafe rather than into the sky; a continuity error at the station in Paris (Rick's wet coat becomes dry when he gets on the train); and Renault's claim that "I was with [the Americans] when they blundered into Berlin in 1918." Curtiz's attitude toward these issues was clear — he said, "I make it go so fast, nobody notices".

Finally, the movie depicts a flag of French Morocco that is incorrect, consisting of a French tricolour with an Islamic crescent moon and star in the middle . In 1942, the flag of the French Protectorate of Morocco was the same as the current Moroccan flag, and the civil ensign consisted of a common Moroccan flag with white fimbriated French flag in the canton . The same flag had been used in earlier films about the French Foreign Legion.


Casablanca won three Oscars:

  • Academy Award for Best Picture — Hal B. Wallis, producer
  • Academy Award for Directing — Michael Curtiz
  • Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay — Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch

It was also nominated for another five Oscars:

  • Academy Award for Best Actor — Humphrey Bogart
  • Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor — Claude Rains
  • Academy Award for Best Cinematography, black-and-white — Arthur Edeson
  • Academy Award for Film Editing — Owen Marks
  • Academy Award for Original Music Score — Max Steiner

In 1989, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry, while in 1999, it was ranked by the American Film Institute as the 2nd greatest American film ever made (bested only by Citizen Kane). In 2005, it was named one of the 100 greatest films of the last 80 years by

In 2006, the Writers Guild of America voted the screenplay of Casablanca as the best of all time in its list of the 101 Greatest Screenplays.


Ilsa says "Play it once, Sam, for old times' sake"; in response, Sam tries to lie, saying "I don't know what you mean, Miss Ilsa"; and she says "Play it, Sam. Play ' As Time Goes By.' " When Rick hears the song, not realizing yet that Ilsa is there, he rushes up and says "I thought I told you never to play that." Later, alone with Sam, he says "You played it for her and you can play it for me. If she can stand it, I can! Play it!" In A Night in Casablanca, all this dialogue was parodied using the line "Play it again, Sam" — a phrase which has incorrectly become associated with the original film.

The line " Here's looking at you, kid", spoken by Rick to Ilsa, was voted in a 2005 poll by the American Film Institute as the fifth most memorable line in cinema history. Six lines from Casablanca appeared in the top 100, by far the most of any film ( Gone With The Wind and The Wizard of Oz were next, with three apiece). The others were: "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." (20th), "Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By.'" (28th), "Round up the usual suspects." (32nd), "We'll always have Paris." (43rd), and "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine." (67th).

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