This one should be familiar to some of you; one of the great Hollywood Studio Era films, period.
Most Hollywood films of the World War II era that both entertain audiences and boost morale seem rather dated and shallow today. There are a handful of exceptions to that rule and here is an important scene from one of them.
Conceived as "just another movie" among dozens of features made in 1942 at Warner Brothers studios in Los Angeles, the film was conceived early in that year, with the future course of the war very much in doubt. By the time it was in general release (January 1943), the Russians had pushed the Nazis back form Stalingrad and the Western Allies had landed in North Africa. Churchill and Roosevelt were "nice enough" to have a summit conference in the real Casablanca the week the film opened across North America. Casablanca went on to be more than "just another movie", winning the Best Picture Oscar the following year.
Of the many extras and bit players in the scenes at "Rick's Cafe American" in Casablanca, French Morocco, many of them were genuine refugees from Hitler's Germany and other parts of Europe. The actor playing the anti-Nazi underground leader Victor Lazlo opposite Humphrey Bogart's Rick Blaine was Paul Henreid. He was a real-life refugee from Austria whose politics would have put him in a concentration camp. The number of German, Austrian and French refugees from Hitler's mad march across Europe had the effect of making Hollywood a shaky refuge in a new and strange land for many continental Europeans.
It's fitting then that Aljean Hermatz reports that there were actual tears on the set when "La Marseillaise" is sung.
For all the skepticism and doubt and anxiety of modern life, this film reminds me that there are times in history when such feelings need to be tabled and the fight joined if there can even be freedom to doubt and dissent the imperfect authorities we elect and struggle to wrest power from in a peaceful manner.
And, if you must join a fight against evil, what better way to do it than in a swank nightclub with booze, gambling tables, good-looking people and great lighting.