"If we identify strongly with the characters in some movies, then it is no mystery that Casablanca is one of the most popular films ever made. It is about a man and a woman who are in love, and who sacrifice love for a higher purpose. This is immensely appealing; the viewer is not only able to imagine winning the love of Humphrey Bogart or Ingrid Bergman but unselfishly renouncing it, as a contribution to the great cause of defeating the Nazis."
So once observed the legendary film critic Roger Ebert about the classic 1942 feature film.
A Closer Look
The core expanded story of Casablanca goes something like this:
A man and a woman sacrifice their love for each other for a higher cause. Laced with propaganda and patriotism, the film's core premise is about the outward cynicism of the movie's eventual hero, who is ultimately driven by the greater calling of the Allied cause in World War II. The movie is set in December 1941 in Vichy-controlled Casablanca, where one corrupt group after the next is looking to make a buck at the expense of refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe, desperate for priceless letters of transit.
It's a terrific plot, accented with remarkable dialogue ("Here's looking at you, kid," and so much more); There's also the ace acting, directing, set design, and film's pacing, overall. Movies simply do not get any better than Casablanca.
Some Behind-the-Scenes Tidbits
Many of the actors who played Nazis in Casablanca were in fact German Jews who had escaped from Nazi Germany.
Rick's Cafe was one of the few original sets constructed for the film, the rest were all recycled from other Warner Bros. productions due to wartime restrictions on building supplies.
During the scene in which the "La Marseillaise" is sung over the German song "Die Wacht am Rhein" ("The Watch on the Rhine"), several of the extras had real tears in their eyes as a large number were actual refugees from Nazi persecution in Germany and elsewhere in Europe and were overcome by the emotions the scene brought out.
The character of Rick Blaine, played by Humphrey Bogart, never really speaks the film's most famous line, "Play it again, Sam."
In actually, he says, "You played it for her, you can play it for me. If she can stand it, I can. Play it!"
The incorrect line has become the basis for spoofs in movies such as A Night in Casablanca (1946), a Marx Brothers film, and Play It Again, Sam (1972), directed by Woody Allen.
[Note: Unless otherwise indicated, certain facts and information in this article were resourced from various entertainment news and media outlets including Britannica.com, History.com, HollywoodReporter.com, IMDb.com, Variety.com, and Wikipedia.org.]