Study Guide

Casablanca Louis (Claude Rains)

Louis (Claude Rains)

How Can He Be So Heartless?

Captain Renault is a local police captain who's trying to take all possible advantage of the chaotic situation in Casablanca. Officially, he represents the puppet government that the Nazis established in France, but unofficially he represents himself. He knows Rick well because so many of the people he's watching hang out at Rick's café. He's supposed to be arresting people who are trying to sell or buy exit visas, but he's not beyond being bribed to look the other way.

RICK: And remember, this gun is pointed right at your heart.

RENAULT: That is my least vulnerable spot.

We're assuming that, if shot in the heart, Renault would bleed out like the rest of us. So…he's probably being a wee bit sarcastic here. It's a good line though.

Throughout most of the movie, however, it's totally true. Nothing seems to move Renault. A couple is broke and struggling and desperately trying to leave town? Meh. A man is executed by the Gestapo? Big whoop. Someone kicks a kitten? He couldn't care less. Seriously…this guy needs to visit the Wiz and get himself a working ticker.

But, as he says, he "blow[s] with the wind."

STRASSER: I'm not entirely sure which side you're on.

RENAULT: I have no conviction, if that's what you mean. I blow with the wind, and the prevailing wind happens to be from Vichy.

In other words, his allegiance is for sale to the highest bidder. For the time being, the Nazis appear to be in charge, so he's going to go along with whatever the Nazis tell him to do. But notice how quickly he changes his tune once Major Strasser is disposed of. He does an instant 180 and now he's trotting off into the fog with Rick to fight injustice.

Something tells us it would take very little to turn him back around again. Let's just hope that, after that last scene, he and Rick didn't run into some curious German with a disposable income.

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