Casablanca: Famous Lines, Lasting Influence

The language of Casablanca became a part of American language, leaving a permanent influence. Many of the great lines in the film still garner applause and admiration from audiences.

The toughness combined with sentimentality that is the crux of Casablanca’s many great lines, even today informs the oratories of many top American politicians, including recent presidents.

For instance, the famous line “Play it again, Sam”–just in this small grouping of words, we can see a microcosm of what Casablanca is all about. The film is a meeting point between America’s search for machismo and America’s “kinder, gentler,” softness that always looks fondly to the past.

And Bogart’s final appeal to Ingrid Bergman: “We’ll always have Paris. The problems of three people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.” Sentimental words beyond belief, yet delivered with the stiffest of upper lips. Another favorite line was “Round up the usual suspects.” Another was “Here’s looking at you, kid.” The song “As Time Goes By” also achieved a special place in American culture. The longevity of the film’s popularity can also be traced to its words. People have gone to see Casablanca again and again, and will continue to do so, specifically to hear their favorite lines.

James Card argues that the ironic language in “Casablanca” was ahead of it time. In fact, Time film critic Richard Corliss has argued that “Casablanca”‘s dialogue is Pinteresque, asserting that the film “boasts some of the best dialogue to be found in any American film.”

Perhaps the film’s language and Bogart’s image in the film can account for Casablanca’s continual replication in our arts. “Casablanca” has inspired parody, has inspired homage, and has become a cult, spawning seemingly endless cultural spin-offs, from television commercials to films. The 1954 Bogart film “Beat the Devil” is an example, which was advertised as “another Casablanca.” Woody Allen’s Play it Again, Sam, which uses the Casablanca line as its title, and repeats the airport finale of Casablanca, is one such example.

Roman Polanski’s thriller, “Frantic,” is another: this 1988 film includes a night club called The Blue Parrot, which is the name of Sidney Greenstreet’s cafe in “Casablanca.”

“Casablanca” also lives on in the popular press. A 1985 Playboy article entitled “You Must Remember This” imaginatively filled in one of the film’s narrative gaps. A 1987 New Yorker cartoon featured a wife discussing her stern-faced husband with a friend: “Beneath that gruff exterior, he’s a sucker for reruns of Casablanca.”

A lot of sexually suggestive lines were cut, such as: “It used to take a Villa at Cannes, or at the very least, a string of pearls–Now all I ask is an exit visa.” And: “How extravagant you are, throwing away women like that. Some day they may be rationed.”

Movies Inspired by Casablanca:

To Have and Have Not
Beat the Devil
Play It Again, Sam
The Year of Living Dangerously
When Harry Met Sally
Proof of Life