Deconstructing 'Casablanca': Waiting for Rick…
Rather than proceed with the more obvious examples of Hollywood Left … as I had promised, films like Platoon, Apocalypse Now, Reds and Inside Man, I’m drawn to a much subtler message in the great classic Casablanca.
Perhaps every movie buff has tried to write – if only in his or her own imagination – a sequel to that great film classic, Casablanca, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.
Rick’s advice to Ilsa in the last scene of the film, that the problems of two little people don’t amount to much during World War II?
How could true love be defeated by an obviously Communist father-figure such as Paul Henreid’s Victor Laszlo?
“That’s a hefty charge, Mr. Moriarty.”
I know, Bogey himself defended most of Hollywood by telling the world in his Photoplay article of March, 1948:
“We have a minute percentage of Communists, but they are under control.”
So surely Bogey’s “Rick” would never have let his Ingrid’s “Ilsa” fly off with a Commie to a very “uncontrollable” South America.
“You’re certain, Mr. Moriarty, that Victor Laszlo is a Communist?”
“Well, his politics had nothing to do with why he gets Ingrid Bergman in the end. He’s married to her, Moriarty! At that time, the Hollywood production code forbade women to run off with men other than their husbands!”
Oh, well … then the holier-than-thou Film Code unwittingly aided and abetted a Communist! My sequel to Casablanca would have Ilsa running around the world to find Rick … after discovering the ruthlessly Red reality beneath Lazlo’s smooth and worldly veneer.
In Casablanca, Paul Henreid’s Laszlo is not yet a Soviet … but he is Czech … and Stalin had all the Slavs in his Communist rifle sights … certainly by Casablanca’s date of release, January 23, 1943 … and the only publicized monster by then was Hitler.
Operation Barbarossa, the Third Reich’s invasion of Russia … and Hitler’s betrayal of Stalin … began on June 22, 1941.
That invasion, of course, ended the brief love affair between the two monsters, Der Fuhrer and Big brother Joe – a liason during which both Poland and Finland were raped respectively by Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia.
By 1943, at least according to FDR’s “Protocol” with the Soviets, Stalin’s Russia was by then a closer friend of America than even England.
Under Roosevelt’s command, “Whatever Uncle Joe wants? Uncle Joe gets!”
And, of course, in the eyes of Casablancans and the Film Code, whatever Victor Laszlo wanted, Victor Laszlo got! Even if it happened to be Ingrid Bergman!!
If I’m right and Laszlo is a Communist – all Hollywood films being forever in the present moment of the beholder – then that explains the depth and breadth of this underground hero’s legendary reputation: the still existing, Worldwide Communist Intelligence Network. A machine that can help whisk its operatives anywhere in the world … even into the White House!
It is in not only this respect but many others as well that Humphrey Bogart’s Rick just … kind of … gets in the Communist’s way.
If we replace the symbolic meaning of Ingrid Bergman’s Ilsa with the American Feminist Movement and its indisputable allegiance to the Left … the increasingly Far and Obamatized Left these days … then, of course, Bogey was prophetic … and … if indeed Bogey was also a Lefty … an organically inevitable Progressive … Rick just had to send Ilsa off with Laszlo to “continue their work.”
However, the only thing that Bogey’s “Rick” admits to is that he’s a “drunk”.
Furthermore, Rick’s “Bogey” declared himself, in the title of that Photoplay article of 1948:
“I’m no Communist!”
In Casablanca, Rick’s best and most trusted friend is a black piano player, impeccably performed by Dooley Wilson, and that, I must say, was the best and only battle cry worth celebrating in the French Revolution’s version of Liberty. If you look closely, Delacroix’s painting has a multiracial selection in his painting. Les enfants de la Patrie!
Or is it Les Enfants du Paradis?
Oh, well … that’s another film … that I may have to re-examine.
But is the obvious Francophile Rick also an automatically fashionable, nouveau-French Red?
I don’t think so.
“I stick my neck out for nobody!”
In the end, of course, Rick The Romantic sticks his neck out for Ilsa who would be safest in South America … with … yes … The Red!
Yet he also sticks his neck out for the victims of the House of Un-American Activities Committee … for which he must clarify his political position:
“On the left, in America, we have the Communists, not many but tightly organized. On the right, we have the bulk of our population, who believe with me, that cures can be effected within the framework of democracy … let’s realize that these liberals (like himself) are devoted to our democracy.”
I’m particularly looking forward to the comments and commentary on this editorial of mine. So much of human history arises out of our almost subconscious views of people and stories and subjects like those contained in one of Hollywood’s greatest semi-fictions, Casablanca.
Was Rick a fellow Red?
Or was he an apolitical American whose understanding of politics would not even begin until he, like Humphrey Bogart himself, could walk in the rain with Claude Rains … or … invite himself to testify on behalf of the accused before the House of Un-American Activities Committee?
That’s when America started calling Bogey a “Commie” and the great star had to defend himself in print.
“So long as we are completely opposed to Communism and do not let ourselves be used as dupes by Commie organizations, we can still function as thoughtful American citizens.”
Yet I have no doubt that Bogey would have voted for Obama.
Yet, Humphrey Bogart was no Commie. He was just admittedly a well-intentioned liberal like most of Hollywood was in those days.
In these days, however, he could be a Democratic Congressman that … well … just doesn’t want to vote for the “Public Option”. He’s just a bit nervous about too much power being in too few hands. Otherwise, he votes along party lines.
Or he could be Charlton Heston!
Being Charlton Heston in a Progressivized Hollywood might even be worse than being Michael Moriarty in New York … after, of course, Ben Stone left Law and Order.
From my personal experience with American politics, I don’t think you can be just “a little bit impregnated by Karl Marx”.
However, Bogey thought we could:
“In the final analysis, this House on Un-American Activities Committee has had one salutary effect. It cleared the air by indicating what a minute number of Commies there really are in the film industry.”
If Bogey says, “It ain’t so” … It ain’t so!!
“Though headlines may have screamed of the Red menace in movies, all the wind and fury has actually proved that there’s no Communism injected on America’s movie screens.”
Despite Mr. Bogart’s confidence, I believe we are now way beyond being a “little bit pregnant.”
The actual baby, an American Communist State, is being born!
From the very “minute” number of Communists in Humphrey Bogart’s Hollywood sprang the anti-Capitalism within such films as those of Oliver Stone, Michael Moore, Spike Lee … and their film-making admirers.
Then, of course, pre-dating all of these American enfants terribles, there is the quintessential Hollywood tribute to American Communists, Warren Beatty’s Reds.
From Bogey’s era till now, it is “Change” which the Declaration of Independence tried to warn us about!!!
“You mean there are limits to American freedom, Mr. Moriarty?!”
Apparently so. You just can’t include a tyranny as part of your alternative plans for America. Those Communist plans. By no means can you call your tyranny-loving souls a defining ingredient to the United States of America.
“What are you screaming about, Moriarty?! We no longer want your national sovereignty ideas! We are building The New World Order!!”
Yeah, right … but that’s another movie entirely … possibly Casablanca II.
Unfortunately, Hollywood welcomes the Communist Collective Dream as an antidote to their guilt over how much money its stars have all made.
Therefore is it strange that many of those stars who make the most money appear to feel the greatest guilt … and, of course, applaud the New World Order with the loudest cries?
I hardly think it’s strange.
In light of that Hollywood gestalt, what would a sequel to Casablanca contain?
A blissfully happy reunion of all the stars of Casablanca at the Second Inaugural Ball for President Barack Hussein Obama.
Then Morocco here we come!!
And the poor Jewish refugees escaping Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?
They’re all in Casablanca … waiting for Rick to show up.