Friday, April 25, 2008

As Time Goes By: Actress from 'Casablanca' dies

CASABLANCA, Hollywood, USA - The woman who played a young refugee in trouble in the 1943 film Casablanca has died, prompting me to watch Casablanca again last night.

It is still my favorite movie, by a loooooong shot.

Joy Page
Joy Page

Her part in the film wasn't huge, but pivotal, because it prompted Humphrey Bogart to get out of his slump and do the right thing, kind of the theme of the entire movie. More on that in a moment.

From reading most of the obituaries of Page (I read five), you would think she peaked at 17 when she was cast in Casablanca and didn't do much else as an actress. Not true. She had a pretty good career through the 1940s and 1950s. A quick Google search shows she was very successful.

Here's the story about her from the Los Angeles Times:
  • LA Times story about Joy Page

  • I wouldn't hazard a guess of how many times I have viewed Casablanca, but at least annually for, maybe, 30 years. I saw it the first time on the recommendation of my amigo John Norton, now a newspaper editor in Pueblo, Colorado. For years we have exchanged letters and emails using various bits of dialogue from the film. We own books that contain the complete dialogue with photos from most of the scenes.

    Yes, it's a little nuts. But so is collecting Hummel figurines. And golf! Don't get me started on golf!

    humphrey bogart & dooley wilson - casablanca 1943
    Bogart at the piano with Sam

    Unless you have been living in Tibet for most of your life, you probably have seen the movie and/or know the plot details. In the photo above, Bogart has just hid the 'letters of transit' he obtained from Peter Lorre early in the film. When John Norton and I would get new jobs, or have signficant changes in our lives, our letters (and later emails) would refer to 'getting our letters of transit.'

    I felt like I got mine when I left the university in December to move to Mexico.

    Ultimately, Casablanca is a romance and a lesson about how important it is to do the right thing. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman separate at the end of the movie, Bergman going with her husband, Bogart to fight the Nazis.

    Although it is the right thing, I practically shout at the screen every time I watch the film: Get on the plane with her! Run, Run!

    You're getting on that plane with Victor, if you don't you'll regret it...

    Most of the actors and actresses, major and minor, who started in Casablanca have passed away, but thanks to modern technology, the film will be with us for a long time. I'm thinking of watching it again tonight.

    Rest in peace, Joy Page, you have your 'letter of transit.'