Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Favourite Character No 2

Perhaps I was cheating a little bit by having two bites of the cherry in the Analogue Painting Challenge's Favourite Character round, but as well as the Margaret Rutherford character, I wanted to include this one because it represents The Wife's favourite film.

Now a lot of Casablanca is really hokey - I can do without the whole Bogart-and-Bergman-in-Paris bit, which contains the line "Is that the sound of canon-fire, or is it the beating of my heart?" (which never appears on the list of great quotes from the film, go figure!) - but one thing that redeems it is the figure of Capt Renault.

Renault, the Chief of Police, is completely amoral.  He is a collaborator with the German non-occupation, he is cynical and he is corrupt.  He extorts sexual favours from refugees trying to get exit visas (unless Rick provides them with the bribe).  Yet in the end he turns out good...

The Wit and Wisdom of Louis Renault

Almost every line delivered with a cocked eyebrow and wry smile...

Captain Renault: Oh no, Emil, please. A bottle of your best champagne, and put it on my bill.
Emil: Very well, sir.
Victor Laszlo: Captain, please...
Captain Renault: Oh, please, monsieur. It is a little game we play. They put it on the bill, I tear up the bill. It is very convenient.

Captain Renault: Rick, there are many exit visas sold in this café, but we know that *you've* never sold one. That is the reason we permit you to remain open.
Rick: Oh? I thought it was because I let you win at roulette.
Captain Renault: That is *another* reason.

Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
[a croupier hands Renault a pile of money, getting a very dirty look from Rick]
Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.
Captain Renault: Everybody out at once!

Captain Renault: By the way, last night you evinced an interest in Señor Ugarte.
Victor Laszlo: Yes.
Captain Renault: I believe you have a message for him?
Victor Laszlo: Nothing important, but may I speak to him now?
Major Strasser: You would find the conversation a trifle one-sided. Señor Ugarte is dead.
Ilsa: Oh.
Captain Renault: I am making out the report now. We haven't quite decided yet whether he committed suicide or died trying to escape.

Captain Renault: [after Rick pulls a gun on him] Have you lost your mind?
Rick: I have. Sit down!
Captain Renault: Put that gun down!
Rick: I don't want to shoot you, but I will if you take one more step!
Captain Renault: Under the circumstances I will sit down.
Rick: And remember, this gun is pointed right at your heart.
Captain Renault: That is my *least* vulnerable spot.

And of course, the clincher...

Major Strasser has been shot... round up the usual suspects.


  1. Claude Rains: couldn't stand him. Thank God for Greenstreet and Lorrie!

    I like your figure though. Er . . I mean the little lead one. Not getting familiar or owt!

  2. I think that Mr Rains did an excellent job as Renault!

    Of course, if you want to see Greenstreet and Lorre at the height of their powers, see The Mask of Demetrios, a wonderfully noir-ish adventure with our protagonists on the trail of a criminal mastermind. Technically a 'B' movie, but directed with great style by Jean Negulesco. It's one of those films which turns up unheralded late at night on the telly, great fun.

    1. And of course 'The Maltese Falcon'. Having checked, they apparently made nine films together!

      I have a soft spot for Lorre in 'Arsenic and Old Lace', one of my all-time favourite films.

  3. Another great entry and always good to keep the wife happy! Now, what we all want to know is, will that staircase be used again in the final bonus round?

    1. I'm not saying, but I was sticking heads on Ansars at 6am this morning...

  4. Captain Renault was one of my favorites in Casablanca as well. WHile the movie did get just a *tad* over-sentimental at times, I still rank it as one of my favorite films of all time. Behind The Blues Brothers and Star Wars.

    1. It would have been nice to see Jake and Elwood in the Favourites Round! Does anyone do them in lead?


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