Quote 3

Louis:   “I'm shocked, shocked, to find that gambling is going on in here."

Louis makes this announcement in Rick's after the patrons' spontaneous rendition of “La Marseillaise” angers Strasser and he demands that Rick's be shut down. Louis must find some excuse to carry out the order, and gambling is what he comes up with. Louis is the film's great wit, and this is probably his best line. He delivers it with a straight face—then politely accepts his gambling winnings from that evening. Louis brings levity and comic relief to an ensemble of intense, brooding characters: Laszlo, the passionate politician; Ilsa, trapped in a heart-wrenching conflict; Rick, the silently suffering sentimentalist; and Strasser, the determined villain. In Casablanca, not all characters suffer from the anxiety of the war, and Louis lives a pleasant life of easygoing hedonism and harmless corruption.

Petty crime is everywhere in Casablanca, and this line serves as its official stamp of approval. It also reveals something fundamental about Louis's character. A gambler himself, he has known for some time that gambling takes place at Rick's. Not only does Louis shut down Rick's with his deadpan announcement, but he also effectively reminds us that he always could have shut down the bar in the past, but never did. Ironically, by flexing his muscle at this moment, and at the request of Strasser, Louis shows where his true loyalties lie. Had Strasser not said a word, Louis would have done nothing, as he always had before. Moreover, Louis knows that gambling is not the only illegal activity to go on at Rick's. Rick's is also a place where stolen letters of transit are sold and where members of the underground resistance meet to discuss their plans without arousing suspicion. That Louis uses gambling, rather than political activities, as the excuse to shut down Rick's is significant. Louis's eventual rejection of Vichy and collaboration is anticipated by this statement. At the height of Louis's moral hypocrisy, he reveals the seeds of his political idealism.