Metropolitan Homesick Blues

Southampton Stories & Other Stuff

Everybody goes to Ricks*

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Yesterday I went to see Casablanca – yet again. The Bruce County Museum has afternoon movies for $2.00. I couldn’t pass up the price and what has become a black and white classic.

But as I watched it I couldn’t help but smile. By today’s standards the film is laughable. The over-acting, over-the-top characters, the unbelievable situations, the obvious back lot scenery, the rear screen projection, the painted glass matt backgrounds, the soft lit close-ups on Bergman that make her so beautiful, all contributed to an academy award winning movie. Today these techniques are considered cliché.

Still, it was a great script. And it got me to thinking.

Back in the day – when I was working here and there and flying all over the place – I found myself on a plane leaving Los Angeles. Stacked take-off traffic left us waiting a while for clearance. As the pilot taxied to an out of the way runway he asked us to look out the left side of the plane. We were moving slowly by an old, somewhat worse-for-wear building reminiscent of Spanish or Moorish architecture.

“That, Ladies and Gentlemen,” he said, “is the site of the original LAX airport. That’s where they shot the final foggy scene of Casablanca.”

And then, in his best Humphrey Bogart voice he said, “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… Here’s looking at you kid.”

Everyone smiled.

My colleague next to me laughed. “Play it again, Sam,” he said, reveling in the moment.

“What? I thought you were a movie buff. He never said that,” I replied. “Bogie’s line was, ‘you played it for her, you can play it for me.’

“And it was Bergman who said,” ‘Play it, Sam. Play As Time Goes By.’”

We argued about Casablanca all the way back to Toronto. I told him that Warner Brothers originally wanted Ronald Reagan to play Rick.

He didn’t believe me. So he matched me with the claim that Bogart wrote the lines, “of all the gin joints in all the world”… and “here’s looking at you, kid”

I felt compelled to correct him. The line is, “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”

We wondered why such an iconic movie had so many its great lines mangled and misquoted. We figured it was as Bergman said, “ It’s a crazy world…anything can happen.”

Silly, I know. But, that’s what the movie does to you.

As I left the Museum I realized that there are a couple of generations behind me that will never get to misquote any of those wonderfully mundane lines. And that, in itself, is sad. Because they will never be able to smile and say as they walk away from a romance gone bad, “We’ll always have Paris.”

*This was the original title before they got Bogart.

Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

February 2, 2011 at 3:18 PM

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