My Reel Infatuation With Victor Laszlo


This article is part of the Reel Infatuation blogathon hosted by Font and Frock and Silver Screenings.

I very rarely give advice to anyone in real life; much like Ben Johnson's character in the Western She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), I feel like people's problems really "aren't my department." However, when it comes to my "reel" life as a classic movie blogger, I've got a few pearls of wisdom that I would like to impart to several old Hollywood characters. If I could, I would counsel Scarlett O'Hara to stop obsessing over Ashley Wilkes, advise Elmer Fudd to give up his hobby of "wabbit" hunting, and tell several dozen horror movies characters that it's a really bad idea to spend the night at that creepy castle.

The character I would most like to sit down and talk it out with is World War II refugee Ilsa Lund played by a luminous Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca (1942). Ilsa certainly has her fair share of problems (being hunted by Nazis is certainly at the top of that list), but she also has a lot going for her including beauty, a good cause to fight for, and the love of her devoted husband, Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid). However, she is ready to throw her future away by running off with her former flame Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), who is the owner of Casablanca's most popular nightclub. 


 I understand that Ilsa's reasons for planning to leave Laszlo are more complex than the thrill of an adulterous affair, but I also can't help but find her attraction to Rick somewhat baffling. He certainly has a way with words, and his friends are interesting to say the least, but, from my point of view, Rick's not really a keeper. This has led to a few awkward screenings of Casablanca through the years;  while everyone else is bawling their eyes out about the supposedly  "sad" ending, I'm usually thinking "Girl, you are getting a private plane ride to a beautiful European city* with Paul Henreid. Quit moping and put on some lip gloss."

To help you better understand my reel infatuation, here are five reasons why I'm Team Laszlo in Casablanca.

He looks like Paul Henreid



I enjoy each frame of Casablanca, but every time Laszlo comes onscreen I have the same reaction as Mary Astor (upper left) in this GIF from The Palm Beach Story (1942). Laszlo even looks good with a skunk stripe, which is a hard hairstyle to pull off (just ask Cruella De Vil).

He knows how to put Nazis in their place . . .




Which, when you think about it, is a pretty difficult thing to do. Also bonus points for the strong singing voice and impeccable French.

He escaped a concentration camp


Laszlo survived one of the worst experiences anyone could ever face with a quiet dignity and a determination to fight for the good of humanity. The worst thing that ever happened to Rick was being stood up by Ilsa at a Paris train station, which leads to the perhaps the most epic pity party in movie history (clip here).

Rick Approves




When even the guy who is madly in love with you is urging you to get back together with Laszlo (clip above), take it as a huge, blazing neon sign from God that maybe you should get on that plane.

Rick might meet someone else. . .


Such as a tall blonde** with a low voice and a sultry stare. Trust me, he'll only have eyes for her from that moment on.

Footnotes
*That beautiful European city is Lisbon.
**The last photo is of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not (1944)




Casablanca will air at 11:30 am July 15 on TCM. Also streaming on FilmStruck and available on Blu-ray, DVD, and video on demand.



Comments

  1. This. Is. Awesome.

    I love this: "Quit moping and put on some lip gloss." I nearly spewed my tea all over my keyboard! Indeed, Victor Laszlo is no slouch, and I always thought Ilsa would someday be incredibly grateful she stayed with him.

    Thank you for these 5 terrific arguments, and thanks for joining the blogathon. Your post is one of the best Pro-Laszlo tributes I've ever read.

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    1. I'm glad it gave you a chuckle. Thanks for hosting!

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  2. Well, you're not going to get any argument from me. In fact, you could have stopped at "He looks like Paul Henreid. Very nice gif tie-in!

    Rick and Ilsa had their moment, and for Rick, I think that's all she wrote. Deep down he knows that, and that's why he did the honorable thing regarding Victor. Victor is all that is admirable and more. He's not showy about it. Irresistible!

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    1. Perfect descriptions of both Rick and Victor

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  3. Beautiful summary. I adore your description of Rick as "not a keeper."

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    1. He's yukking it up with Louis about two seconds after the plane takes off, so he's not taking Ilsa leaving THAT hard.

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  4. I am totally on Team Laszlo (and Team Paul Henreid in Anything), too. I really enjoyed this piece. Thanks so much for joining our blogathon! (This is actually Mae from Font and Frock)

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  5. Haha, love this! You've made some great points, even though I am Team Rick (and also Team Rick/Louis bromance).

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    1. I am definitely team Rick/Louis bromance. I would love to hang out with those two.

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  6. This post is so funny. Like Ruth, love the "Girl, you are getting a private plane ride to a beautiful European city* with Paul Henreid...." line. If I think of him in Now Voyager, it really is baffling anyone would be tempted away!

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    1. Yes! Major crush on Paul Henreid in Now, Voyager.

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  7. Loved this - so funny and true. I always thought Rick was a self-pitying pill. Just because he did the right thing doesn't make him a catch.

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    1. For me Rick's two saving graces are that he is played so well by Bogie, and that at least in the final scene he does realize that all of his self-pity "doesn't amount to a hill of beans."

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  8. Well, now that I've read your post, I'm going to be seeing Casablanca's characters in a totally different light. You make some very good points. And I particularly like the one about Rick's pity party. Mopey men are NOT sexy!

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