Archive for the “In Rick’s Place” (Week One) Category

In Rick’s Place

Posted in "In Rick's Place" (Week One) on April 13, 2011 by John R. Kitch

A scene from "Casablanca". Pictured from left to right: Paul Henreid as "Victor Laszlo", Ingrid Bergman as "Ilsa Lund", Claude Rains as "Cpt. Louis Renault", and Humphrey Bogart as "Rick Blaine".

Jealousy, envy, and bitterness can ruin the best people and the best friendships.

Naturally, perhaps instinctively, all humans want to be the best. They wish to be the most attractive, the most cunning, and the most important. Though all these may sound as though they are selfish desires, is it not true that most people wish to be all of these wonderful things just to impress that certain someone? For some people, it seems very easy to be the charming hero with everything going right, and they get the girl or the guy. The anti-heroes are lucky to get what little happiness and love is left in the world, and a bitterness just seems to loom over their every opinion of the fortunate heroes.

I admit, I often feel like an ideal anti-hero, like I am in Rick’s place (his situation, that is). The Rick I refer to is Rick Blaine, portrayed by the pessimistic and brooding performance of Humphrey Bogart in “Casablanca”. Poor Rick once had a lover in Paris name Ilsa Lund, a stunning example of a woman (rightly played by Ingrid Bergman). On the eve of their escape from the Nazis, she stands him up at the train station. Time passes, and Rick establishes a club and gambling hall, “Rick’s Cafe Americain” (often referred to by the characters as Rick’s Place), in Casablanca. And then, out of the blue, Ilsa enters his place on the arm of the handsome and heroic Victor Laszlo (played by Paul Henreid), a Czech resistance fighter against the Nazis. After their surprising and brief reunion, Rick says one of the famous lines:

“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”

I know the feeling. A couple years ago, a friend that I admired (and still do) made the prettiest girl in high school his girlfriend. Naturally, I also had feelings for her, and she was aware of it. Her and I were friends, and still had our own conversations, but I kept asking the air “Why did she step into my life? Why her? If she can not be my girlfriend, then why do I go through the agony of knowing her?” This girl had walked into my gin joint, but she was on the arm of her Laszlo.

Then, I remembered why I put myself through the drama of pouring my heart out to someone that was already taken. It was because the girl and I always had Paris. Towards the end of “Casablanca”, Ilsa actually considers leaving Laszlo and staying with Rick, but Rick lets her go, saying:

“We’ll always have Paris.”

Of course, this girl and I never had a romantic affair in Paris, but we had our friendship and our conversations. We spoke honestly to each other, and we had formed what I thought to be a special kind of friendship. I still value that friendship to this day very highly. Laszlo could not take away Rick and Ilsa’s time in Paris, and my friend could not take away the friendship I had with his girlfriend.

I suppose, in a way, we will always have our “Paris”.

“Casablanca” and all images from it are property of Warner Bros.

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