Casablanca (1943) is one of my favorite movies. It’s almost a cliché now, but it’s a brilliant film that to me never gets old. I could go on and on, but I will restrain myself to just two minutes of the film – the scene where Laszlo has Rick’s band play La Marseillaise to drown out the Germans singing. First, the direction is amazing. The camera focuses on all the major characters in a series of shot-countershots. Characters walk in and out of frame is a naturalistic way. This choreography is simply amazing.
While there are only three words of dialogue in this two-minute scene, it contains a lot of acting. As the camera focuses in on the characters, their expressions alone reveal so much. One person who was probably not acting is Madeleine LeBeau who played Yvonne, Rick’s jilted lover. LeBeau and her real-life husband, Marcel Dalio (Emil the croupier), escaped France in 1940, just ahead of the invading Germans. They traveled to Lisbon and eventually made it to America. I can’t help but think that the tear running down her face as she sang La Marseillaise and the passion in her cry of “Vive la France” were real.
Enjoy the scene!