Cussless Christina and Extraordinary Eloquence: Lent in Casablanca, Night 23

Casablanca won an Oscar for Best Screenplay. The language was pretty. The actors talked nicely. They said the words well.

I jest, in that I would go crazy if I could only write simple sentences like those above. English crackles at its best, with differing rhythms and structures.  Beyond the beauty of Casablanca’s language, the cast nailed every line. The more I watch Casablanca, the more convinced I become that Claude Rains has perfect diction.

Before he became a film star, he taught at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud were among his students).  That’s a pretty spectacular resume, elocution-wise, and every syllable is crisp and clear like a mid-autumn New England day.

Just for giggles, imagine the following exchange between Captain Renault and Ilsa Lund using Kevin Smith dialogue:


I can’t do it to Ilsa. Or Louis. I was going to have Renault repeat Zack’s line about how everybody wants to see anyone…eff word.

As research, in addition to Casablanca, I watched excerpts from “Shaun of the Dead” and “Zack & Miri Make a Porno.” Neither of these films lasts even 30 seconds without profanity. Casablanca portrays the best and worst of humankind, and does so without even an “Oh my God,” much less f-bombs.

Part of this tack came from Christinaheart, who has tried to give up cussing for Lent. She’s amazed at how hard it is, and I daresay my language is far worse than hers.

Casablanca doesn’t lack anything from its profanitylessness.  It’s not as if the dialogue suffers.

I get that raunchy 21st Century comedies are going to use rough language.  Also, I’m certainly not offended by it–indeed, I love Kevin Smith movies. Tonight, I caught almost every light red coming home, and I burst out laughing once at the long chain of swear words I bellowed.

I’m the last person to mourn decorum’s demise. However, it’s nice to visit a world where the problems of two ordinary people don’t amount to a hill of beans, rather than a world where they don’t mean shit.

Here’s to eloquence…where the ¿@*!!&#@! has it gone?

Happy Friday.


7 Responses to “Cussless Christina and Extraordinary Eloquence: Lent in Casablanca, Night 23”

  1. Interesting observation — though now that you mention it, Casablanca has no need for profanity. Actually, neither do a lot of classics, right? They don’t need the punch of an expletive.

    Now if only I could make my tennis game more classic!

    • I hear you. I remember thinking John McEnroe was cretinous, until. I realized my behavior made his look like little Lord Fauntleroy. PLUS I played like…well, something bad.

  2. christinaheart Says:

    It is totally hard to convey the severity of human emotions without the use of profanity. Maybe this is why I should watch more old movies. I need to build my vocabulary.

    Because, you know, I’ve been saying, “That’s poop.” waaaaay too much.

    • I told you, Christina: use names from history. “HELMUT SCHMIDT” works, as does the lovely “Ford C FRICK”!

      My sorta sister, Abby, used to work as a place with a swear jar. She invoked Ford Frick’s name. Her boss tried to fine her. Abby had to prove that Mr Frick was an actual person. She didn’t have to pay. 🙂

      • christinaheart Says:

        But… but… when I’m mad I can’t think straight! That’s the problem.

  3. Mr. sKz routinely chastises me for my use of colorful metaphors. Maybe one of the beauties of Casablanca is that it depicts a time when films were about more than regular people. You went to a movie to escape. Swearing was too real life.

    Not that I have anything against swearing. It gives me phenomenal power and superhuman strength.

    Just a thought…

    • I love the Jack Nicholson quote, “People who speak in metaphors can shampoo my crotch.”

      Or something like that.

      Language is fun. 😀

      Hâppj Møndåj.

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