Friday, April 1, 2011

Rick and Ilsa as brother and sister




I am currently writing a 25 page essay in film studies, and I just got the idea to change the subject of it. I first thought about analyzing the female influence on the male characters of The Maltese Falcon from 1931 (Roy Del Ruth) and 1941 (John Huston), but I have sadly realized that there is already too much written on that subject. Instead, I remembered that I always got unmistakable incestuous vibes from Rick and Ilsa whenever I have watched Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942), and I think that point of view can result in a substantial re-evaluation of the great classic, and a great essay.

Isn't it weird that Rick and Ilsa seem unreasonably uncomfortable with running into each other? Almost as if there were something else than just a regular heterosexual love affair to be anxious about.

Haven't we all wondered what Rick really meant with "We'll always have Paris?"

What we all do know is what Paris was infamous for back in those days. For example, there is one scene in Boardwalk Empire (Terence Winter, 2009-) where Jimmy asks his wife to fellate him, arguing that all women in Paris does it. And Boardwalk Empire takes place in the jolly 1920's - just imagine what happens in Paris 20 years later, in desperate war times.

I do also believe that the line "Here's a looking at you, kid" is an obvious reference to Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's Venus in Furs (publ. 1870), but I may have to check minor details.

This stance may not be the most popular one, but I do think I have enough evidence on my side to make this essay work. Any ideas?


8 comments:

Mykal said...

Lolita: Just my two cents, but to me the central relationship in Casablanca screams of a dyed-in-the-wool, classic, man-woman, hetro relationship. Rick's response is so full of classic, sulky male anger over being "betrayed," and Ilsa is such a classic noble female (so much more long-sighted and mature than the male); that I think you may find yourself in trying to prove an incestuous bond stretching points so far they snap and dissolve away. Actually, had they been involved in an incestuous relationship, I don’t think they would have been at all uncomfortable meeting again, as such a relationship would have always been completely covert from inception (nothing in their behaviors suggests shame – only anger and regret). Their awkwardness at meeting again in Casablanca is because they only now have to conceal their past relationship and are not comfortable with that. If they were brother-sister lovers, might they not be old hands at the discipline of appearances?

Paris was and is a place of tremendous sexual liberation - but there was certainly plenty of good old fashioned romance to satisfy Rick and Ilsa having a very "traditional" romance there pre-war.

Also, it is very difficult to imagine any of the major players (Jack Warner, Hal Wallis, Michael Curtiz, etc) not run screaming into the night from such a concept (Bogart might have gotten a laugh out of it, though).

That is to say, I'd love to read that essay once you write it.

timbwilliams said...

April Fools indeed...

Lolita Kane said...

Mykal:
Wow, this WAS a successful April Fools joke! I may have tricked as many as three people ;) But seriously, I SHOULD write an essay like that some day, and of course consider all points you made!

Mykal said...

Lolita: Every darn year I fall for someone's April fools joke. It's such a curse being gullible. The funny thing is, I can still imagine you considering an essay like that!

I'm such an April fool!

Lolita Kane said...

Mykal:
I usually do too, so I isolated myself yesterday and didn't talk to anyone. I got away from all bad jokes.

I don't remember which blogger it was, but someone wrote a brilliant April Fools Day post on recently discovered footage from a co-operation between Hitchcock and Ed Wood. I fell for it, I thought it was amazing. To my defence I read that post several days after it was posted, so I didn't have an April Fools Day mentality. Hehe.

I realized that you're right- I could very well get the brilliant idea of writing such an essay! I would however do it "for the lulz" rather than actually believe in what I wrote ;)

timbwilliams said...

We film fanatics are an extremely gullible lot, mainly because so much of what we want to see is lost beyond recall, and any suggestion that it might still exist automatically initiates the "Hope Springs Eternal" gene that lies dormant in all of us. And we're always ready to believe anything outrageous when it comes to the Classics. I took Madame's post seriously the first time I read it, not least because I do not play April Fools jokes myself, so I am usually unaware that April 1st carries any significance. Maybe I should just lighten up?

H A R R Y G O A Z said...

*tee hee hee*

Banda Freedom said...

Heeey, great blog. (=

Congrats, it's a really nice blog. Good taste (=

Best Regards,
Lucas Oliveira