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Casablanca - Ethics and SuccessCasablanca - Ethics and Success


Casablanca (1942)


Famous for...

  • Its two stars, Humphrey Bogart and a then unknown Swedish actress, Ingrid Bergman.
  • The song ,As Time Goes By, sung by Sam (Dooley Wilson).
  • Humphrey Bogart’s line “Here’s looking at you kid”. He didn’t say (as is commonly thought) “Play it again, Sam” but “If she can stand it, I can. Play it!”


Set in...Casablanca - Ethics and Success

December 1941 in Casablanca, Morocco, ruled by the French Vichy government (Nazi supporters).



Michael Curtiz (pictured right, also director of The Adventures of Robin Hood, starring Errol Flynn - pictured right below as Robin Hood).Casablanca - Ethics and Success




  • best film.
  • best director.
  • best screenplay.


Key characters

Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), American night club owner.Casablanca - Ethics and Success

Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman), his Norwegian lover - pictured right.

Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), Czech resistance leader (fighting the Nazis) and Isla’s husband.

Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains, also in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, French police chief).

Major Heinrich Strasser (Conrad Veidt), Nazi villain.

Guillermo Ugarte (Peter Lorre), shady black marketeer.

Sam (Dooley Wilson), pianist at Rick’s club.


The storyCasablanca - Ethics and Success

In December 1941 a cynical and embittered American, Rick Blaine (pictured right) runs a nightclub and casino (Rick’s Café) in Casablanca in Morocco.

Casablanca is used as an escape route to neutral Lisbon from the Nazis.

A Nazi Gestapo commander, Major Heinrich Strasser arrives to put pressure on the corrupt and womanizing police chief, Captain Louis Renault, to investigate the:

  • murder of two German couriers.
  • theft of some letters of transit (enabling two people to fly to Lisbon). Casablanca - Ethics and Success

These letters are given to Rick at his café by a slimy black marketeer, Guillirmo Ugarte. But Rick refuses to save him from police arrest for the two murders (pictured right).

A regular café customer is Renault, who tells Rick that a famous Czech resistance leader, Victor Laszlo, and a lady will be arriving in Casablanca to escape from the Nazis.

Rick then meets Major Strasser, who knows about his stay in Paris in 1940.Casablanca - Ethics and Success

When they enter the café, Renault greets:

  • Laszlo.
  • his companion (Norwegian Isla Lund).

Strasser orders them for questioning the next morning.

In one of cinema’s most famous scenes, Ilsa asks Sam, the pianist, to play her favourite love song, As Time Goes By (pictured right).

It reminds her of Rick, her ex-lover.Casablanca - Ethics and Success

He is shocked and disconsolate when he sees her, recalling their love affair in 1940 in pre-Nazi Paris (pictured right). As the Germans advanced, Rick:

  • had to leave Paris (because he fought against the fascists in the Spanish Civil War).
  • was devastated (when she rejected his proposal of marriage, deciding not to go with him to Casablanca).

Back in the present, Laszlo defiantly rejects Strasser’s offer of freedom in exchange for the names of resistance leaders throughout Europe.Casablanca - Ethics and Success

Rick (pictured right with Laszlo and Ilsa):

  • helps a Bulgarian couple escape by letting them win in the casino.
  • refuses Laszlo’s offer of a fortune (200,000 francs) for letters of transit to Lisbon.

After the Germans close the café for playing the French national anthem, Ilsa:

  • threatens Rick with a gun to give her the letters of transit. Casablanca - Ethics and Success
  • is unable to shoot (confessing that she still loves him).

She reveals that:

  • Laszlo was her husband all along.
  • she abandoned Rick in Paris, because, at the last minute, she discovered that Laszlo was still alive.

Rick decides to help Laszlo, leading Ilsa to believe that she will stay behind with him when Laszlo leaves. Rick forces Renault at gunpoint to help Laszlo escape.

At the airport Rick:Casablanca - Ethics and Success

  • persuades Isla to go with Laszlo (pictured right above saying goodbye).
  • shoots Major Strasser (pictured right with Renault, right) to ensure their escape to Lisbon (with the letters of transit Rick has given them).


  • saves Rick from arrest (by telling the police to “round up the normal suspects”).
  • recommends that they leave Casablanca. Casablanca - Ethics and Success

They both vow to fight the Nazis and disappear into the fog (pictured right) with Rick famously saying:

“Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship”.


Lessons for ethics and success

 Casablanca - Ethics and Success

1. Love means self-sacrifice

Rick sacrifices Ilsa, so that she can leave with her husband to continue his fight against Nazi Germany.


2. Love is eternal

Their parting cannot destroy Rick and Ilsa’s love for each other.

“We’ll always have Paris”, he tells her, remembering their passionate romance there.

 Casablanca - Ethics and Success

3. You can’t forget your past

Isla’s marriage dooms her relationship with Rick, and their chance meeting in Casablanca painfully reminds them of their love affair in Paris.

 Casablanca - Ethics and Success

4. Put things in perspective

Rick realizes that his, Isla’s and Laszlo’s problems are small relative to the war’s horrific consequences.

“It doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world”, Rick tells Isla.

 Casablanca - Ethics and Success

5. Be a person of principle

Despite his outward show of indifference (“I stick my neck out for nobody” is his motto), Rick is a man of principle who is prepared to fight the fascists in Spain and Germany.

 Casablanca - Ethics and Success

6. It’s never too late to change

Renault transforms himself from a corrupt womanizer into someone prepared to risk his life for Rick and the fight against the Nazis.


Key quotes on love and friendship

Here’s looking at you, kid, Rick.

If she can stand it, I can. Play it!, Rick (usually quoted as “Play it again, Sam”).

We’ll always have Paris, Rick (to Isla).

Was that cannon fire, or is it my heart pounding?, Isla (to Rick as she hears German gun fire in Paris).

Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine, Rick.


Key quotes on relationships and friendship

Major Strasser has been shot. Round up all the usual suspects, Renault.

Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship, Rick (the film’s last line).


Key quote on ethics

I stick my neck out for nobody. I’m the only cause I’m interested in, Rick.


Two film websites to recommend

1. filmsite.org (run by Tim Dirks).

2. aveleyman.com (run by Tony Sullivan)

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