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PRINT February 1992

BELIEVE IT OR NOT

Casablanca

HAVING GOTTEN THROUGH the 50th anniversary of Pearl Harbor relatively unscathed, we can enjoy a bit more than three years before the 50th anniversary of Hiroshima. In the interim, there’s Casablanca.

For Americans, Casablanca is World War II. Put in production a few months after the Japanese attack on Pearl, the movie is set days, perhaps hours, even moments, before it. “If it’s December 1941 in Casablanca, what time is it in New York?” wonders Humphrey Bogart’s ineffable Rick. “I bet they’re asleep in New York. I bet they’re asleep all over America.” Made with 20-20 hindsight—replete with references to Rick’s “isolationism” and “foreign policy,” and ending with the romantic sacrifice he makes to rejoin the antifascist fight Casablanca suggests that if the American people were caught napping by the Japanese wake-up call, they were still a snoozing giant.

Nor was Rick born yesterday. This

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