A Remake Chronicles Extra by Adam-Troy Castro
Why are the Nazis so stymied by this freedom fighter who walks around unmolested in this city whose police captain they believe they have in their pocket? Wh…y don’t they simply have a guy ambush him with a hood over his head or a bullet through his brain, then claim ignorance? Are they really that concerned with the letter of the law? Seen from the other side, why is Victor putting such weight on the letters of transit (signed, I note, by a guy who’s not in power)? Does THIS following scenario make sense?
MAJOR STRASSER: (Sneering) I have you now, Lazlo.
LAZLO: No, you don’t. Here are my letters of transit.
MAJOR STRASSER: (Reads the documents, his crest falling) They’re in order. May I validate your parking?
Assuming an authority that trumps Renault and the Nazis, why would these particular letters of transit still be valid when EVERYBODY OPENLY KNOWS that they were carried by couriers who have been murdered and that anybody in subsequent possession of them got them illegally?
And then there’s this: when Rick, Victor and Lazlo get to the airport to meet that plane, it ALL becomes a matter of Rick pulling a gun on Renault at the right moment; but EVEN BEFORE THEN, they meet no authority at the airport who EVEN ASKS FOR THEM. You could argue that the proper place to produce these hypothetical documents is at the destination, but that makes even *less* sense, since no foreign government would be under **any obligation whatsoever** to give a shit about them.
The letters of Transit are so clearly treated as the fascist equivalent of Superman’s kryptonite — i.e., once Victor and Ilsa get them, there is nothing the Nazis can do to stand in their way — that it is possible to point out the ludicrousness of the conceit by imagining an alternate scenario where Rick harbors Ilsa no bad feelings at all.
STRASSER: I need those letters of transit. Victor Lazlo must stay in Casablanca.
LAZLO: I must leave Casablanca to continue my great work.
RICK: (Choosing between them) You know, Victor, I like you more than I like this putz over here. Here, I just happen to have some letters of transit on me. Take them.
LAZLO: (Surprised) Oh, thank you. (Tugs on Strasser’s nose) Boop. (Runs with Ilsa to taxi stand)
STRASSER: (Sputtering) Foiled again!
There is, finally — though this can be hand-waved away — the question, just who is this freedom fighter Lazlo, whose “great work” will be just as influential in exile? Will he be raising money, writing fiery articles, or leaving Ilsa behind again, to return to occupy territories? This is never explained, but one thing’s for sure. If it’s the last option, he might want to think twice before taking more breaks from his crusade to get dressed to the nines and hang out in casino nightclubs.
None of that matters, of course. The movie’s still great. But I am wondering.