Part 1 – Killer Lines
Today is the end of Valentine’s week – it seems to me it’s outgrown it’s “Day” and is now a week, probably a month. But now, the roses are dying, the restaurants are putting their price back to normal and relationships are returning to their day-to-day pace as March approaches.
For a writer, in terms of romance, one dream, out of many is being able to write something – anything – that people remember well after you’re gone. I doubt I shall ever have that honour or that ability. Besides, I am not a romantic writer. Someone – a friend and we were laughing at the time – recently remarked that my new logo which includes a pen, should have blood dripping from its nib.
Yet strangely I have a huge admiration for those who have succeeded in doing just that. I say strangely, because those I remember and quote tend to be from romantic fiction, and films.
Jane Austin did it with Elizabeth and Mr Darcy. I can quote huge chunks of that one. Wuthering Heights is another, although that is about obsessive love. I also find living in my head a quote from a novel that was the rage in the 70s – Love Story – which contains a line that has ever since made me cringe: ‘love means never having to say you’re sorry’. What!
For me, in this Valentine’s week, my favourite line is not from a book but from a film (although it was originally based on a book).
The film was made in 1942, during WW2, before even I was born. It’s ‘Casablanca’, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman
It’s the story of a doomed love. Set in the city of Casablanca weeks into the outbreak of war, it’s the story of two people who come together again unexpectedly, she having deserted him in Paris as the Nazis invaded, he not knowing why, only that the love of his life let him down. A section of the film, when they finally stop being angry with each other, has a flashback to their time in Paris. It’s happy, romantic, and fun.
Now, he discovers that she was married but believed her husband, a resistance leader, to be dead. But he wasn’t, and re-appeared again, just as she was about to join him the train out of Paris.
Angry as he is, he eventually agrees to help them get out of Casablanca and onto a plane that will take them to Spain.
As Ilsa and her husband leave the airport, she and Rick have one final conversation. She is unwilling to go, but he says she must, as her husband is vital to the resistance and needs her.
His parting line to her: “We’ll always have Paris”.
Just typing those words sends shivers down my spine. Of course, it’s the acting as well as the screenplay writing (which was done by Julius and Philip Epstein and Howard Koch).
Those four words, for me, encapsulate love, love lost, love re-discovered and remembered, then lost again, but love that will never be forgotten. Brilliant.
I’ll get back to my blood-dripping pen now.
But tonight, I’ll probably watch ‘Casablanca’. Again.