Casablanca Quotes and Analysis

"I stick my neck out for nobody."

Rick Blaine, 00:17:37 and 00:22.38

This line sums up Rick Blaine's life philosophy at the beginning of the film. He demonstrates it When Ugarte is arrested and dragged away, screaming for Rick to help him, and Rick does nothing. However, by the end of the film, Rick Blaine is sticking his neck out in a major way. In order for Victor Laszlo and Ilsa to escape Casablanca and continue leading the fight to take down the Axis powers, Rick threatens Captain Renault and shoots Major Strasser.

"What is your nationality?"

"I am a drunkard."

Major Heinrich Strasser and Rick Blaine, 00:23:28

At the beginning of the film, Rick Blaine is a cypher and he wants to keep it that way. He has created a separation between himself and any personal details that may define him. It becomes clear later that this is to protect himself from past emotional wounds. However, during the first act of the film, Rick responds to any personal questions with quips and jokes. When Ilsa arrives, however, he verbalizes all kinds of personal details and memories, like the color dress she was wearing the last time they met, and how many days they spent together.

At the time, Casablanca was a stop-gap for European refugees hoping to escape to America. The authority in Casablanca is Vichy, or German-occupied France. Rick is an American who can not return to his country. He also had to flee Paris after ending up on the German's blacklist. Though he proclaims to be neutral, his past is replete with anti-fascist activity. This line, spoken to a Nazi officer, is a sardonic reflection of Rick's complicated past and his current philosophy of remaining neutral in a place where one's identity has extreme political implications.

"Play it, Sam. Play "As Time Goes By".

Ilsa Lund, 00:32:21

This is the most misquoted line from Casablanca, enhanced by Woody Allen's 1972 film which he titled, Play it Again, Sam. "As Time Goes By" is the song that was playing the last night that Rick and Ilsa saw one another. Rick has requested Sam never to play that song, but Ilsa is the one who asks to hear it. This is another example of the way Rick has allowed his happy memories of Paris to be tainted by Ilsa's abandonment, and that her re-appearance has forced him to face the nature of his pain.

"We all try. You succeed."

Rick Blaine, 00:34:17

The first night that Ilsa and Laszlo come to Rick's, Rick and Renault join them for a drink. Rick congratulates Laszlo on his "work" (presumably his ability to slip through the Nazis' fingers repeatedly). Laszlo humbly responds, "I try", and Rick fires right back, "We all try, you succeed." This comment is loaded. For the first-time viewer, it could appear that Rick simply admires Laszlo's ability to keep leading the resistance movement even when he is a highly valued target for the Nazis. However, it is soon revealed that Ilsa, Laszlo's companion, used to be Rick's lover, but abandoned him in Paris. Therefore, this comment takes on double meaning. Not only is Laszlo successful in keeping the resistance alive, but he has also managed to hold on to Ilsa.

"With the whole world crumbling, we picked this time to fall in love."

Ilsa Lund, 00:44:02

During a flashback sequence, Ilsa and Rick enjoy a warm and passionate affair in Paris. However, they are forced apart when the Nazis invade. This quote is representative of the state of their relationship, and the eventual reality that these two people, despite their feelings for one another, will never be together. As war and tyranny descends on their countries, they are both needed in different ways. Ilsa eventually must accompany her husband, Victor Laszlo, to America so that he can maintain the strength to continue his fight against the Axis powers. Rick, meanwhile, cannot ever return to America and must keep fighting on the European side. It is not for lack of love, but timing and circumstances that keep Rick and Ilsa apart. They are both aware of the fact that their being together would jeopardize the more important tasks at hand, but that is what makes their love story that much more poignant.

"I've heard a lot of stories in my time. They went along with the sound of a tinny piano in the parlor downstairs. 'Mister, I met a man once when I was only a kid,' they'd always begin."

Rick Blaine, 00:50:07

Rick says this to Ilsa when he is drunk and she comes to see him. She tries to tell him the truth about why she left him behind in Paris, but he has too much pent-up anger and resentment to really hear her. Rick speaks this particular line after Ilsa expresses the circumstances of their affair, and how complications ultimately tore them apart. The Production Code Administration, a body that ensured films of the the era upheld a determined set of moral guidelines, classified this line as "quite a definite reference to a bawdy house", or a brothel, which was, at the time, prohibited. The studio, however, refused to remove it. Even though the line does not propel the plot forward, it does give more weight to Rick's spurning of Ilsa in this scene. He blames her for his pain, and this line describes the depths that he fell to after she broke his heart - looking for female companionship in brothels while Ilsa was standing by Laszlo's side. This line also casts aspersions on Ilsa's character by proxy. Raising similarities to her story with those heard in such "bawdy houses" illustrates how low Rick assumed Ilsa to be.

"I advise that this place be shut down at once!"

"But everybody's having such a good time."

"Yes, much too good a time."

Major Strasser and Captain Renault, 01:14:11

When Major Strasser and his German soldiers start singing "Die Wacht am Rhein", a German patriotic anthem, inside Rick's Café Americain, Victor Laszlo leads the overwhelmingly French clientele in a rousing rendition of "La Marseillaise". Major Strasser takes the demonstration very seriously and forces Renault to shut down Rick's. Renault must now confront his own priorities. He has made a life for himself in Casablanca by only acting in his own interest. He prefers to have fun than to deal with the complications of taking a patriotic stance. However, this is the moment where Renault's fun ends. It also foreshadows Renault's allowing Rick to get away with murdering Major Strasser. At the beginning of the film, Renault wants to curry favor with the Third Reich so that they will leave him alone to live his decadent life in Casablanca, but he soon realizes that he'd rather be part of defeating the evil Major Strasser (and his cause).

"It seems that as long as I have those Letters [of Transit] I'll never be lonely".

Rick Blaine, 01:20:00

At the beginning of Casablanca, Rick Blaine is an isolationist, both politically and emotionally. In one dramatic evening, he comes into possession of two highly prized Letters of Transit that would allow for escape to America, and his former lover Ilsa Lund arrives at his cafe with her husband, a Czech Resistance leader who is in danger of political persecution. Film scholar Diana Paladino writes, "The letters of transit are the objects desired by all the characters: by Laszlo and Ilsa who are trying to leave Casablanca, by Renault and Strasser seeking to trap the murderer, and by Ferrari who wants to sell them. Only Rick, who actually possesses the letters, desires something entirely different". The Letters of Transit, combined with Ilsa's arrival, force Rick into making choices that will alter his life and the lives of those around him. They give him the power to save two lives, and the decision of what to do with the letters lies in Rick's hands alone. The Letters of Transit force Rick to step outside the walls he's built around himself and do what he knows in his heart is right. After all, as Signor Ferrari reminds Rick, isolationism is not practical in the current political climate.

"You might as well question why we breathe. If we stop breathing, we'll die. If we stop fighting our enemies, the world will die."

Victor Laszlo, 01:27:20

Rick Blaine asks Victor Laszlo if fighting against the Third Reich is worth all of the trouble. Laszlo, however, does not feel that his leadership is a choice - it is a necessity. Rick's withdrawal from the world, both emotionally and politically, is not natural for Laszlo, and nor is it truly natural for Rick. These two men are both leaders at heart, but the difference remains that Laszlo embraces it while Rick chooses to suppress it. This quote, which may seem severe to contemporary viewers, also shows the way that the American government wanted films to portray the threat of fascism. The Axis powers took the freedom of millions as they spread their wings across Europe. The Allied forces were not just posturing against a different point of view, but they were defending basic human rights.

"Louis, this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

Rick Blaine, 01:42:12

This famous last line of the film refers to Rick and Renault's decision to escape Casablanca for the Free French Garrisson in Brazzaville. Renault and Rick have a lot in common at the beginning of the film. They both live by a code of self-interest and self-preservation. For Rick, this means allowing illegal activity to go in his saloon so that he can keep it open, and for Renault, this means obeying Major Strasser and the Gestapo so that he can stay in power in Casablanca. However, by the end of the film, both throw off their isolationist shields. They depart from Casablanca, which is controlled by Vichy France, to go to Brazzaville, thus fully embracing the Free French cause. They both realize in tandem that they have the power to do good for others, and not just themselves.