The scene is arguably the most famous in filmdom.
In a hangar, expatriate American bar owner with a shady past Ricard Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), tells the radiant Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), the true love of his life:
“I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that...” Ilsa's eyes well up. Rick puts his hand under her chin and raises her face to meet his and says, “Here's looking at you, kid."
With letters of transit in hand, Ilsa and her once-believed-dead husband, debonair Underground leader husband Victor Laslo (Paul Henried) who had escaped from the Germans before getting to Casablanca, then cross the fog-shrouded tarmac to board an Air France Lockheed Model 10 Electra, (the real star of this scene, obviously), take off, and fly to freedom.
Casablanca premiered 80 years ago on Nov. 26, 1942, at the Hollywood Theater in New York City. Despite some goofs — there was no such thing as letters of transit (and it’s doubtful the Germans would have honored them had there been); it’s never foggy in Morocco; Air France never flew Model 10s — Casablanca was an instant hit.
The 102-minute movie would go on to win three Oscars the following spring — Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay — and is considered one of the greatest films ever made. Even if the oft-quoted line “Play it again, Sam” is never actually spoken.
In the final scene, former frenemy-now-turned-compatriot, the debonair Capt. Louis Renault (Claude Rains), and Rick walk off into the night.
Rick says, “Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
But there are all kinds of details that prove that what was originally titled Everybody Comes To Rick’s was pure Hollywood magic.
Did You Know?
Because of wartime restrictions against filming at night, the climactic scene was filmed in a Warner Brothers studio using quarter- and half-scale Electra models. The fog was created to hide the fact the aircraft was a model. To keep the perspective correct, the aircraft maintainers were little people.
One very short shot in the final scene shows what appears to be an actual Electra cranking up. Director Michael Curtiz noted that the second unit did film at the Van Nuys Airport. That footage, which shows rivet rows and a pilot on the flight deck, was either likely darkened to make it “night” for continuity or the crew had very special permission to shoot at night. Whether or not that Electra was actually the aircraft in Disney’s Great Movie Ride in Florida has been debated for years.