Recently, I solved a crossword puzzle with the word ‘CASABLANCA’. This brought back such vivid memories of the film of the same name that I thought of another film that also has stayed with me as a favorite. That was Spartacus.
In Casablanca, the two scenes that have stayed fresh in my mind as though I had seen the movie only yesterday are the first one where, Rick (Humphrey Bogart) tells Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) to go with her husband as otherwise she would regret not having done so sooner than later. The other scene that has stayed with me all this while is the last one, typical of films of those days, when the two heroes walk off into the sunset, and Rick says “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
On reflection, both scenes are very ordinary in current cinematography standards. You will however have to give allowance for me in India seeing the film much after it was made as a rerun at a Sunday morning show, when I was perhaps in my early twenties and everything American was fascinating. I remember going to the movie primarily to see Humphrey Bogart as my parents used to talk about him a lot and I had never seen him in any other film. I thought that the film was a let down after the great promotion for the morning show.
I believe that both the statements have stayed with me all these years for the impact that such decisions have on human beings. In the first scene referred, one never knows whether the decision that Ilsa takes is the right one nor whether the reason that Rick offers for the decision, the right one.
In the case of the last scene, the fact is that I have made many friendships from some seemingly difficult situations. Two such friendships have continued to be extremely strong and have endured more than three decades. The two friends that I refer to will read this and understand the underlying emotion. It is difficult, even after all these years, to write about the situations from which we ‘escaped’.
In the case of Spartacus, due to a series of coincidences, I had to see the film, if my memory serves me right, seven or eight times. Much later, during my Senior Management days, I remembered the film and got a Video Tape and used to show it in training programs. The scene that has stayed with me all these years, is where Crassus (Lawrence Olivier) asks the captured slaves to give up Spartacus so that the others can at least live. Spartacus (Kirk Douglas) steps out and says, “I am Spartacus”. Immediately, all the other slaves stand up and say the same thing one after the other. This scene had such an impact on me that I used it and got other trainers to use it in team building exercises as well as to illustrate the value that death is sometimes more valuable than ignominy.
One of my greatest regrets has been my inability to find the famous “Me Tarzan, You Jane” quip in a Tarzan movie. I understand that it was neither used in the original novel nor in the films. What a pity! I have of course used it in many situations where I had gone to the help of damsels in distress.
There are some memorable scenes from Hindi and Tamil films too that have stayed with me over the years and I shall blog about them in another blog where I intend posting essentially Indian matters.
Have you some scenes/famous lines like these that have stayed with you for many years?