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Romance in Casablanca

 
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Is Victor Lazlo "stiff" and "pompous?"
No! I love him!
33%
 33%  [ 5 ]
He's no Rick, but he's all right.
53%
 53%  [ 8 ]
Yes! Poor Ilsa!
13%
 13%  [ 2 ]
Total Votes : 15

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Nana



Joined: 02 Apr 2007
Posts: 947

PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2009 12:40 am    Post subject: Romance in Casablanca Reply with quote

I was quite frankly astounded to read reviews on Casablanca where they felt that the Victor Laszlo character (Paul Henried) was completely unlikeable.

"Casablanca set Paid Henreid as a stiff. He was such a pompous, earnest man in Casablanca that you think, My God, that poor girl going back to that guy?" - Pauline Kael, film critic

When I watched this film with my girlfriends, we all adored Laszlo. We liked Bogart, too, but my personal favorite scene in the whole movie is Laszlo's "Play the Marsailles." He's probably not the best match for Ilsa (I think she's a bit symbolic for him; something he wants to protect) but that doesn't make him a bad match for anyone. And as far as being non-heroic - he escaped from a concentration camp, refused to leave Ilsa behind when she fell sick and her life was endangered, and is a living god to all Resistance fighters. What more could you ask?

Then again, I'm the woman who came away from "The Dark Knight" wanting my own Harvey Dent, so what do I know?
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Tee



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 4223
Location: Detroit Metro

PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2009 8:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I never did get the appeal of the movie Casablanca. None of the characters worked for me. But then the most recent version of Titanic was a real disappointment to me, so maybe there's something in my genes (or the water here). Laughing
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Claire



Joined: 01 Apr 2007
Posts: 1309
Location: around Atlanta

PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2009 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the chemistry between Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman overpowers Victor Lazlows character who I think in another film would be "the one" for me. I have grown to appreciate him a lot more as I've gotten older because he's more like the honorable type of man I like in romance novels.
Did you know that while they were filming the movie they didn't know who Ilsa would end up with? They were constantly working on the script and didn't know til the last minute who she would be with in the end. All those classic lines and it was done in just a few months.
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JaneO



Joined: 17 Feb 2008
Posts: 798

PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2009 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The original casting choices, apparently, were Ronald Reagan and Anne Sheriden instead of Bogart and Bergman. The George Raft turned down the part of Rick because there were too many lines to learn.

Or so I have read. Who knows? Snoops wasn't around.
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JaneO



Joined: 17 Feb 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2009 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I mean Snopes, of course.
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NoirFemme



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1475
Location: America

PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2009 8:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All three leads were compelling. I like Casablanca but not as the "romance" as everyone else seems to classify it as. For me, it's exactly what most wartime movies made during WWII were: a slick, polished and entertaining piece of propaganda (after all, Mrs. Miniver with the object of convincing the US to join the war effort.

Not to say there is no other value to the movie, but it's more the story of putting aside your own ego, your own desires, your own foibles, to combat for the greater good. In the context of the movie's setting and filming dates, WWII wasn't this glamorous, boogie-woogie, swing dance Pearl Harbor (the movie) type of time we tend to sigh over today. Rick had to give up Ilsa, Laszlo needed to put the cause before his wife if the Resistance was to fight the Axis powers, Ilsa had to stand beside her husband and continue to do what she did--in order to fight for what was right and just.

Standing up for justice isn't easy, and sometimes you can't allow your personal needs to interfere with the greater scope of things. Not to say that you should shunt all relationships, duties and responsibilities to fight for what you believe in, but sometimes you have to--and that's what I feel Casablanca is about.
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Cora



Joined: 12 Mar 2008
Posts: 1129
Location: Bremen, Germany

PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2009 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tee wrote:
I never did get the appeal of the movie Casablanca. None of the characters worked for me. But then the most recent version of Titanic was a real disappointment to me, so maybe there's something in my genes (or the water here). Laughing


The same stuff must be in the water here, since I also find Casablanca very overrated. It's basically a propaganda film, albeit one with excellent actors. But then a lot of WWII propaganda films on all sides had excellent actors - doesn't necessarily make them any more palatable. Besides, the Nazis in the Marseillaise scene should have sung the Horst Wessel song, not "Wacht am Rhein".

As for Titanic, don't even get me started. Kate Winslet's character is TSTL, Billy Zane is hotter than Leonardo di Caprio and the technical errors kill any dramatic moments for me.
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Nana



Joined: 02 Apr 2007
Posts: 947

PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cora wrote:
Besides, the Nazis in the Marseillaise scene should have sung the Horst Wessel song, not "Wacht am Rhein"


I have read that the reason is that Horst Wessel, the Nazi anthem, was under German copyright, and while Allied countries could ignore that, any screening of the film in neutral countries would result in revenue for Germany. To dodge that, the screenwriters changed the song to Die Wacht Am Rhein.

As for the criticism that Casablanca is a propaganda film... well, sure, it is. But I don't see a lot of differences between its themes (personal sacrifice in the face of the greater good, making the choice between power and right, etc) and the themes of, say, Lord of the Rings. But because Lord of the Rings is about a fake war, we say it's good literature, and because Casablanca is about a real war, we say it's "just" propaganda.

So yes, it's a product of its time and of its intentions. But I don't think that's a reason to diminish the final product. Learning more about the movie's context has actually made me enjoy the film more - like learning that the extras in the Marseilles scene were largely Nazi refugees and many were genuinely crying. Or finding out that the actor who plays Major Strasser was a German in exile for being anti-Nazi. Or looking through the cast for shout-outs to various Allied nations. Now, the movie is interesting to me on two levels: as a great character-driven narrative, and as a wonderful historical primary source.
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Cora



Joined: 12 Mar 2008
Posts: 1129
Location: Bremen, Germany

PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pretty much everyone involved in Casablanca who was not Humphrey Bogart or Ingrid Berman (or Michael Curtiz, who was an Austrian immigrant but not a refugee) was a Nazi refugee. There probably was more German spoken on set than English.

And I do make a difference between films depicting fictional wars like Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, even if both were a response to actual wars, and historical (in the loosest sense) pictures dealing with real world wars (e.g. all those Vietnam films that came out in the 1970s and 1980s) on the one hand and outright propaganda films on the other. With propaganda films the political purpose (to sell a war or some other political agenda) outweighs the story. Casablanca is something of a borderline case, because the story manages to hold up pretty well against the politics. Whereas on the other side, you get something truly schizophrenic like the 1942 Jimmy Cagney vehicle "Captain of the Clouds", which starts out as an adventure film about two bush pilots in Alaska vying for the love of a woman (Cagney wins) and then halfway through turns into war propaganda, as Cagney abandons the woman he was so infatuated with moments before and calls her a slut, enlists in the Canadian air force and goes off fighting.

However, propaganda films are necessarily bad films. On the contrary, a lot of them are very well made and involve some amazing talent. "Casablanca" or "The Great Dictator" are probably the best examples.
And even some of the absolutely vile Nazi propaganda films like the infamous "Jud S" involve a lot of talent, which makes it even more painful to watch.

When comparing German and Hollywood movies of the WWII period, the interesting thing is that while the Third Reich produced a handful of propaganda films unparalleled in their vileness (e.g. "Jud S" or "Der ewige Jude"), the average German film of the 1940s actually contains less overt propaganda than the average Hollywood film of the same period. Hollywood films tend to be "Go and protect the American way against those evil Nazis/Japanese", while the majority of German films are more like "War? What war?"

Another interesting point is that the infamous Nazi propaganda films (i.e. the films that can only be displayed for educational purposes), whether it's pre-war fare like "Hitlerjunge Quex" or Leni Riefenstahl's documentaries or latter anti-semitic screeds like "Jud S", were not particularly big successes, because people didn't want to watch them unless forced and preferred watching harmless musicals or comedies. And having sat through Leni Riefenstahl's "Triumph of the Will" at university, I can attest that apart from the visuals, the film is dead boring, because a lot of it consists of speeches by second and third rank Nazis (we started fast-forwarding through those bits, because no one wanted to listen to the ranting of the Gauleiter for Upper Silesia). And "Hitlerjunge Quex" (another one with excellent actors) fails, because it actually manages to make the Hitler Youth seem less appealing than the rival Communist youth organization, because the Communists are shown to offer campfires, singing, uniforms, booze and girls (and sex in the form of a Communist hottie), whereas the Nazis offer campfires, singing, uniforms, marshing and a free Swiss Army knife. Now what heterosexual teenaged boy would choose a free Swiss Army knife over sex for the revolution with a Communist hottie?

Interestingly, Josef Goebbels likes "Mrs Miniver" a lot, because he saw it as the perfect propaganda film (not exactly a glowing endorsement, considering the source) and instructed filmmakers to make a German version. The resulting film started shooting towards the end of the war and was never completed. The surviving footage was unearthed in an East German archive and eventually incorporated into a documentary.
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