Love in the Golden Age

“You played it for her; you can play it for me. If she can stand it, I can. Play it!” Rick (Humphrey Bogart) , Casablanca (1942)

 

There aren’t alot of things that make me sentimental for World War II.  But Casablanca (1942) is one of them.  Sigh. Humphrey Bogart, being all jaded, and stoic, and sexy, all five foot 8 of him.  

 

During university, when I was spending a quiet night at home instead of being out at the bar, I would often pop this movie in and sit there, dreaming that life might someday be even a fraction that romantic.  

 

Fast-forward twenty years later, and I am spending a quiet night at home in front of the fireplace, instead of out with one of the lovely young men I have met (I am old enough to decide, and I have decided they shall be young).  Life is not, in fact, a fraction that romantic. But it has certainly been interesting.

 

Aside from the fact that Ingrid Bergman was Ilsa, the love interest, instead of the inimitable Lauren Bacall (who Bogart later married, after they teamed up in To Have and Have Not), Casablanca was the perfect love story.  There was intrigue, there was a love triangle (who doesn’t love a love triangle?), there was a hero who sacrificed everything for his one true love.  

 

But wait a minute. He didn’t get the girl. He sent her off to safety with her heroic dud of a husband while he stayed behind as human ransom to satisfy the authorities hungry for blood. What do I love about this movie again? Oh yeah, it’s the poignant comments like “If she can stand it, I can,” suggesting that perhaps unrequited love is even harder on the hero than it is on the damsel.  A romantic thought, to be sure.  

 

I am starting to see a pattern here. Maybe I enjoy the chase, the exquisite pain of desire denied, of forbidden, unattainable love, more than the thing itself.   Maybe that is why I am sitting here, alone, in front of my fireplace, thinking about a movie that was made 72 years ago. Oh well. As the Wailin’ Jennys say,

 

There’s no such thing as perfect, and if there is we’ll find it when we’re good and dead

Trust me I’ve been looking but tonight I think I’ll go and take a bath instead.

– from “Heaven When We’re Home”

 

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