Widely hailed as an all-time classic, the 1942 American Romantic Drama film Casablanca had its world premiere on November 26, 1942, in New York City and was released nationally on January 23, 1943. It is based on Murray Burnett and Joan Alison’s unproduced stage play Everybody Comes to Rick’s. The film stars Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid; it also features Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Dooley Wilson. Set during the early days of World War II, it follows A Cynical exiled American expatriate and former Freedom Fighter named Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) who has opened up a popular nightspot in Casablanca in order to escape the horrors of World War II. Called “Rick’s Café Américain” it attracts a varied clientele: Vichy French, Italian, and German officials; refugees desperate to reach the still neutral United States; and those who prey on them. Although Rick professes to be neutral in all matters, He later reveals his involvement in the Ethiopian war with Italy and the Spanish Civil War.
Rick comes into possession of two”letters of transit” obtained by petty crook Ugarte after he murdered two German couriers. The papers allow the bearer to travel freely around German-controlled Europe and to neutral Portugal, and are thus almost priceless to the refugees stranded in Casablanca. Ugarte plans to sell them at the club later that night, but asks Rick to hold them for him for an hour or two. However he is arrested by the local police under the command of Vichy Captain Louis Renault, an unabashedly corrupt official and Ugarte dies in custody
Then Rick’s former lover, Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) walks into his establishment. Upon spotting Rick’s friend and house pianist, Sam, Ilsa implores him to play “As Time Goes By”. Rick is stunned to see Ilsa. She is accompanied by her husband, Victor Laszlo, a renowned fugitive Czech Resistance leader. They need the letters to escape to America, where he can continue his work. Meanwhile German Major Strasser has come to Casablanca to see that Laszlo does not succeed. Laszlo makes inquiries concerning the letters, to Ferrari, a major underworld figure but they are interrupted by Strasser leads a group of officers in singing “Die Wacht am Rhein”. Laszlo orders the house band to defiantly play “La Marseillaise”, patriotic fervor grips the crowd and everyone joins in, drowning out the Germans. In retaliation, Strasser has Renault close the club. That night, Ilsa confronts Rick in the deserted café. When he refuses to give her the letters, and confesses that she still loves him and explains that when they first met and fell in love in Paris in 1940, she thought her husband was dead but left Rick without explanation after learning that her husband Laszlo was in fact still alive and in hiding
Rick agrees to help, then Laszlo unexpectedly shows up, having narrowly escaped a police raid on a Resistance meeting, and tries to persuade Rick to spirit Ilsa away to safety. Unfortunately the police eventually catch up with Laszlo But Rick convinces Renault to release him by promising to set him up for a much more serious crime. However Renault is eventually coerced into assisting their escape, which Strasser tries to prevent.