[Quick Summary: Rick meets old flame Ilsa. Will he help her leave Casablanca?]
This is a fantastic script because it has great structure, & meaty characters.
But it's a very rare script because it has real humor.
Not ha-ha humor, but subtextual humor borne out of the character & conflict.
ex. German Major Strasser wants a reason to make trouble for Rick.
STRASSER: What is your nationality?
RICK: I'm a drunkard.
Rick doesn't want to answer, but also doesn't want to offend. So he uses humor to defuse & distract. He's poking fun at Strasser, & sending a message that he won't be cornered.
Also, the structure lends itself beautifully for humor & conflict.
ex. The script begins with refugees Jan & Annina who don't have money for visas.
It then lays out in great detail that Rick thinks of himself as heartless. He would never rig a casino game except to bribe the police.
So when Jan puts his last chips on Rick's roulette table, it's quite funny & poignant that Rick lets Jan win enough for visas.
It says a lot about how Rick is changing (without any on the nose dialogue), & shows how things are getting more desperate (raising stakes).
WHAT I'VE LEARNED: I simply loved the subtext & humor.
The script was unapologetically smart, but never forgot it was telling a good story.
I find it amazing that they shot this with a half finished script, & were writing the night before each day's shoot.
by Julius & Phillip Epstein, Howard Koch