North Africa is in the news today as a place where terrorists are revered. Terrorism has a very long history in this locale and it’s usually billed as a romantic history. However, people getting killed isn’t romantic even though Hollywood proclaims it to be so and the US Marine marching song The Shores of Tripoli gives it a throbbing boost. I blogged about Casablanca the book last week and yesterday watched the movie Casablanca again on the NETFLIX Play-it-now option. It’s billed as:
Genre: Romance Classics, Classic War Stories, Classic Dramas
This movie is: Sentimental, Romantic, Emotional.
Click picture for the Amazon DVD
That billing is correct if you are totally naive but if you actually observe what happens during the movie it is horrible in the extreme. The killings and rapes are all off screen and joked about with lots of laughs by the perpetrators. Hollywood takes a tragedy as pitiful as King Lear and makes it into a romantic classic with lots of cutie laughs and coyly jerked tears. It pulled in lots of money when made and still does and it won some Oscars but ultimately it sends the wrong message to real people.
Letting the mass murderer of 270 people, almost all were Americans, go free this week sent the wrong message to the terrorists in that area and encourages them to blow up more airplanes filled with innocent people. It is a bizarre streak in human nature that seeks out this kind of destructive behavior and makes it seem romantic. Hollywood thrives on this pitiful inborn trait of human beings. Let’s now consider these characters actual behavior without getting too caught up in the beauty of the actors, the cleverness of the dialogue and the slickness of Hollywood’s presentation:
Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) is assumed to be an underground arms dealer before the movie starts. He had been forced to leave America before being prosecuted for murder. He supplied arms to Ethiopia and later Spain and was in Paris on some sort of questionable adventure. That is how he got the money to open a rather nice looking night club: Rick’s Café Americain in Casablanca, Morocco, Africa. He is involved in various crooked operations with the complete complicity of the police. This is the “good guy”. = In fact he’s a murderer, swindler, thief and supplier of weapons to other killers.
In walks Ugarte (Peter Lorre) who has just murdered two guys to get some Letters of Transit. He is richly dressed but acts incredibly slimy. He knows the police are about to pick him up so he gives the special papers to Rick for safe keeping. = He’s an armed robber, murderer and thief of state documents.
Then there is the charming Chief of police Renault (Claude Raines) who has a funny little conversation with Rick about women as objects. = In fact it’s about rape of desperate women trying to obtain passports to escape the oncoming Nazis.
Later Renault complains to Rick about his letting one of his potential rape victims Annina (Joy Page) slip away but says tomorrow it will be a beautiful blonde implying it will be Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman). = So he is a serial rapist and a criminal abuser of legal power which is in fact about as evil as one can get.
Enter Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), a freedom fighter for some undisclosed political cause, probably Socialist or Communist, and stated to be anti-National-Socialist. Laszlo has some huge amount of money from some undisclosed source and has underground political connections. = So he’s an organizer of underground freedom fighters / terrorists.
Ilsa is the ultimate naive, innocent and infinitely beautiful woman craved by all the men. Each pursues her in his own way. Renault through the misuse of his power as chief of police. Laszlo through his glowing idealism and syrupy manipulative rhetoric. Rick through being so controlling of the situations and just plain cool and having the papers, which everyone wants. Ilsa ultimately confronts Rick with a pistol and demands the papers. = So, beautiful as she is, she is an attempted armed robber.
Renault and Strasser (the evil German officer) while interviewing Laszlo and Ilsa jokingly reveal they have just murdered Ugarte. = That is obvious criminal abuse of legal power and murder.
Renault and Strasser then plan to murder Laszlo because he is too dangerous to let leave Casablanca and too dangerous to let stay. = That is conspiracy to political murder a clear felony.
In the end after Rick kills Strasser with Renault’s complicity, and Ilsa and Laszlo fly off to freedom, Rick and Renault go off into the fog together like true everlasting chums. All the sleazy people other than Strasser and Ugarte go off unpunished to carry on with more of their criminal activities. Neither Ugarte or Strasser are actually punnished for their criminal behavior but murdered by these other evil people.
It’s sooo romantic.