Casablanca

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Elisa watches Casablanca on TV.

Casablanca is a classic American film that Elisa Maza was watching on TV before Demona interrupted the broadcast to cast a spell turning the populace of New York City to stone. ("City of Stone" Part One)

The Redemption Squad later used the Casablanca Hotel as their headquarters in Manhattan. ("Estranged")

Real World Background

Casablanca poster.jpg

Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz, starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Paul Henreid and featuring Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre. The film won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

In the early years of World War II, the Moroccan city of Casablanca attracts people from all over. Many are transients trying to get out of Europe; a few are just trying to make a buck. Most of them gamblers and refugees, Nazis, resistance fighters, and plain old crooks -- find their way to Rick's Café Américain, a swank nightclub owned by American expatriate Rick Blaine. Though we learn later that Rick once harbored enough idealism to put himself at risk to fight fascism, he's now embittered and cynical, professing to be neutral and detached: "I stick my neck out for nobody."

Ugarte comes to Rick's with letters of transit he obtained by killing two German couriers. The papers allow the bearer to travel freely around German-controlled Europe, including to neutral Lisbon, Portugal; from Lisbon, it's relatively easy to get to the United States. They are almost priceless to any of the refugees 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 police under the command of Captain Louis Renault. A corrupt Vichy official, Renault accommodates the Nazis. Unbeknownst to Renault and 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."

Now the reason for Rick's bitterness re-enters his life. Ilsa Lund arrives with her husband Victor Laszlo to purchase the letters. Laszlo is a renowned Czech Resistance leader who has escaped from a Nazi concentration camp. 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. When she discovered that he was still alive, she left Rick abruptly without explanation and returned to Laszlo, leaving Rick feeling betrayed. After the club closes, Ilsa returns to try to explain, but Rick is drunk and bitterly refuses to listen.

The next night, Laszlo, suspecting that Rick has the letters, speaks with him privately about obtaining them. They're interrupted when a group of Nazi officers, led by Major Strasser, begins to sing "Die Wacht am Rhein", a German patriotic song. Infuriated, Laszlo orders the house band to play "La Marseillaise". The band leader looks to Rick for guidance; he nods. Laszlo starts singing, alone at first, then long-suppressed patriotic fervor grips the crowd and everyone joins in, drowning out the Germans. In retaliation, Strasser orders Renault to close the club.

At different times Rick and Ilsa torment themselves by asking the club's piano player, Sam, to play "As Time Goes By", a song they loved when they were together in Paris. The famous line "Play it again, Sam," which refers to this song, doesn't actually appear in the movie. Ilsa says "Play it, Sam," and later, Rick says "Play it!"

Later that night, Ilsa confronts Rick in the deserted cafe. He refuses to give her the documents, even when threatened with a gun. She is unable to shoot, confessing that she still loves him. Rick decides to help Laszlo, leading her to believe that she will stay behind when Laszlo leaves.

Laszlo is jailed on a minor charge. Rick convinces Renault to release Laszlo, promising to set him up for a much more serious crime: possession of the letters of transit. However, Rick double crosses Renault, forcing him at gunpoint to assist in the escape. At the last moment, Rick makes Ilsa get on the plane to Lisbon with her husband, 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 Rick's life by telling them to "round up the usual suspects." He then recommends that they both leave Casablanca. 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."

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