Restless Natives

Everyone over the age of thirty has seen the movie Casablanca several times. It is a classic love story, in which beautiful women turn out to count for less than politics and killing Germans takes precedence over both love and marriage. In actuality, Casablanca has very little to do with love: the love affair, told almost entirely in flashbacks, is a dreamy adolescent fantasy that might have been scripted by Hemingway after he convinced himself that a fat old man was every young girl's dream.

Love is not the subject, but politics is, and Casablanca is a finely tuned piece of war propaganda featuring a commedia dell' arte cast of stereotypes:

The American: embittered over the loss of an innocence he can only regain by fighting Nazis, supported by a democratic entourage that includes a Negro entertainer, a Russian bartender, a Spanish chanteuse, and a Jewish waiter. (If Bogart is Everyman, then Hollywood is Everywhere.


The Frenchman: a venal, skirt-chasing cynic who redeems his nation's honor by joining the Free French in their mythical struggle against the Germans and their Vichy collaborators (never mind that most Frenchmen were quite content with a government that got them out of the war).

The Liberal Idealist: Who cares where he comes from or what he stands for? We only know that he carries the...

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