Director: Michael Curtiz
Rick Blaine: Humphrey Bogart
Ilse Lund: Ingrid Bergman
Victor Laszlo: Paul Henreid
Ugarte: Peter Lorre
Captain Renault: Claude Raines
Sam: Dooley Wilson
Ferrari: Sydney Greenstreet
The trail of persons displaced by the war leads from Marseilles through Oran, Casablanca, Lisbon and ends at last in America. But many never get out of Casablanca; they stay in that city waiting and waiting for papers they cannot get. At the movie's opening, a radio announces the killing of two German couriers who were carrying letters of transit--letters which guarantee the bearer free passage out of Casablanca.
Rick Blaine, an American expatriate, owns a cafe and private gambling house in Casablanca. Although he was one a freedom-fighter, by his present non-involvement in local politics, he and Sam, his pianist, have established a good and relatively safe business in the midst of much corruption and bribery. One night Ugarte, a criminal and parasite--a forger of documents-brings Rick some papers--the letters of transit--and asks him to keep them safe. Shortly thereafter Ugarte is arrested and "commits suicide."
Then local chief of police and French supporter of the Germans, Captain Renault, tells Rick that Victor Laszlo, a famous Swedish resistance leader will be coming to Casablanca. He bets Rick 10,000 francs that Laszlo will not be able to get out of the city. When Laszlo does arrive, Rick is painfully surprised to see that he is accompanied by Ilse Lund. Once Ilse was Rick's girlfriend.
As Rick stays up drinking, he remembers his former happy days with Ilse; when she comes in to his bar to speak to him, to explain to him why she left him without warning in Paris, he is drunk, angry and rude. She leaves without explaining. Rick's bitterness, and his unwillingness to help anyone is, in part, explained through the unfolding of his memories.
The next day Ilse and Laszlo learn from the owner of a neighboring cafe, Ferrari, that Rick most probably has the letters of transit they so desperately need. Laszlo asks Rick for the papers, but he refuses to yield them. Later on that night, after Laszlo has gone out to an underground meeting, Ilse visits Rick again. She pulls out a gun and demands the papers. Rick suggests that she shoot: she'll be doing him a favor. Ilse crumbles--she cannot shoot--and an emotional reunion follows. After some talking and planning, Ilse is sent back to her rooms. She imagines she will leave Laszlo, whom she admires but does not really love, and stay with Rick.
arrangement, Laszlo comes again to see Rick, and is caught there in the cafe after
curfew. He is arrested. Rick arranges for his release, but makes a deal with Renault
by which Laszlo will apparently be caught with the missing letters of transit
and then Rick will leave Casablanca with Ilse.
In preparation for the set-up, Laszlo is released.
In the afternoon
Rick sells his cafe to Ferrari; that night Rick, Laszlo and Ilse meet. But instead
of allowing Renault to arrest Laszlo, Rick makes Renault drive them all to the
airport. There he tells Ilse that she must go with Laszlo--she must be true to
her husband and to his cause. The couple leaves. Renault has managed to alert
the German general, but when he appears, Rick shoots him. Rick and Renault decide
to escape from Casablanca together. Says Rick: "Louie, this looks like the
beginning of a beautiful friendship."