It’s Obvious, Episode 3: Casablanca for Dummies

Yes, it’s high time to discuss that most-kept of secrets. There’s more in Casablanca that meets the eye. This is another chapter in the series of “It’s Obvious…” film articles that started with the following entries:

Episode 1. It’s Obvious, Narnia

Episode 2. It’s Obvious, 2001

In this entry, I will discuss the high possibility that the main character in that most respected of film classics, Casablanca, was quite gay. Yes you heard it right. The character played by that most admired of macho actors, Humphrey Bogart, was as gay as Hollywood could dare to write in the high-suspicion environment of post-World-War-II America. I personally am just “shocked, shocked” that this revelation was not caught, expounded, denounced or cherished in such outre documentaries like “Out of the Closet Hollywood.” Oh well, perhaps they can add a small segment to the DVD release and credit me, bladerunner at, for this insight.

It all started with the Film Study class that I never took in high school. That’s right; I never officially took the Film Study class in my Senior year. I was too worried with looking “perfect” for my college interviews and decided to take the importantly-named course “Research Project 101” instead of Film Study. But the film study teacher was a friend of mine and allowed me to sit in her class for all of the film showings, while I was not doing my research paper in the other class. She even graded my paper on “Casablanca” although there was no effect on my grades for the research-paper class. But I digress.

There are several hints in the movie that led me to this thesis, back in the heady days of my High School senior year. I am amazed that more people have not picked up on these items; there are great lovers of “Casablanca” in the CrackTeam community, but even they were surprised to hear these items. Here they are, for you to enjoy and dissect:

1. Rick Blaine and Ugarte are lovers. Yes they are, and here is why. Have you ever wondered why Rick despises Ugarte? This is never made clear in the movie; there are so many vile characters in Casablanca, why does Ugarte deserve such low status in Rick’s eyes?? Could it be that Rick despises the fact that he is gay and is partnering up with Ugarte? This self-loathing would be perfectly understandable in the repressed America of the early 20th century, when the movie was made. If you have doubts, ask yourself why Ugarte seems to have a special access to Rick that is denied to others. He sits at Rick’s table as he plays with his chess pieces and seems intent on impressing Rick:

UGARTE: Look Rick, do you know what this is? Something that even you have never seen. Letters of transit signed by General DeGaulle [sic] Cannot be rescinded, not even questioned. Tonight, I will be selling those for more money than even I have ever dreamed of, and then addio Casablanca! You know Rick, I have many friends in Casablanca, but somehow, just because you despise me, you’re the only one I trust. Will you keep them for me? Please.

2. Rick spends his time chummying up to and exchanging witty repartee with Captain Renault, who is fully flaming just under the surface of that Vichy-issued traitorous French uniform. Yes, the good bon-vivant Captain redeems himself to the audience and to all Free France by the end of the movie, but don�t forget this piece of dialogue that gives it all away:

ILSA: Who�s Rick?

RENAULT: Mademoiselle, you are in Rick�s and Rick is�.

ILSA: Is what?

RENAULT: Well mademoiselle, he�s the kind of man that, well, if I were a woman and I (taps his own chest) were not around, I should be in love with Rick.

3. Rick seems indifferent to the beautiful women around him, and has an on-going Don-Juan coverup competition with his good friend Captain Renault. Don�t kid yourself, these men seem to go out of their way to proclaim to each other how much they seek women. If that is the case, how come they are so public about the pursuit and so private with their lack of �scoreable� success??

RICK: Hello Louis,

RENAULT: How extravagant you are, throwing away women like that. Someday they may be scarce. You know, I think I shall now pay a call on Ivonne, maybe get her on the rebound, eh??

��- AND ���

OFFICER: Excuse me Captain, another visa problem has come up.

RENAULT: Show *her* in.

4. The final scene of the movie shows both thematically and realistically Rick�s choice of men over women. He has just sacrificed his �relationship� with Ilsa by sending her off to America to inspire the great American Propaganda Writer that will allow us to win the war. But has he really made a sacrifice?? At the end of the film, he seems quite content to walk off into the distance holding hands [sic] with his buddy Captain Renault:

RENAULT: It might be a good idea for you to disappear from Casablanca for a while. There�s a free French garrison over at Brazzaville. I could be induced [!!!] to arrange a passage.

RICK: My letter of transit?? I could use a trip. But it doesn�t make any difference about our bet. You still owe me ten thousand francs.

RENAULT: And that ten thousand francs should pay our expenses.

RICK: Our expenses?

RENAULT: Uh huh.

RICK: Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

There you have it. Go watch this fantastic movie again and feel free to add more comments to this thread. There�s lots more in the film, but I would not want to take away your opportunity to �discover� this interesting angle on one of the greatest films ever made. Enjoy it again.

2 thoughts on “It’s Obvious, Episode 3: Casablanca for Dummies”

  1. I can attest to this. Just watch the movie under the assumption that Rick, Ugarte, and Renault are gay, and all sorts of things pop out. It’s like one of those drawings where, if looked at one way, it’s a lovely young lady, but shift your perception and it’s an old crone. In fact, it would be great to get some screen captures. Isn’t there a scene with Ugarte fingering a bishop? And I mean chess piece, you filthy minded scoundrel! 🙂

    The thing is, after having studied the film, seen documentaries on it, learned about the screenwriters, etc. – it’s pretty hard to believe it was intentional. But either way, it’s an extremely amusing experience watching it with that in mind!

  2. I don’t think it was malicious. These were character actors working within the studio system, cranking out who-knows-how-many movies out in as many weeks. Would you blame them for investing their characters with a little additional backstory, or for inserting actions that add ambiguity to their roles? I think movies are richer for it. And it allows us to go on these flights of fancy with relative ease !!

    IMHO, the best part of the movie is not its heterosexual love triangle, but the richness of the backstory and the interaction of the characters within this created world. That is what makes it one of the greatest movies ever made. I fear for the day that some Hollywood genius decides to film “Casablanca 2” and to destroy the magic.

    Unless it was done in CGI with animals taking the roles. Enough said.

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