Keep in mind that this movie came out during World War II. A totalitarian regime looking for world domination (not an exaggeration, btw) was threatening much of the Western hemisphere. Nothing encourages nationalistic feeling than seeing your nation invaded and your fellow citizens brutalized. The Gestapo was capturing and killing individuals that people knew. It was personal as well as political.
Which is why that "duel of the songs" was so rousing and touched audiences so deeply. In a way, much of the movie was an anthem itself—an anthem for freedom, for a steadfast adherence to principles, for victory over a vile enemy. And P.S., many of the extras in that scene were actually refugees from Germany—their tears were real. (Source)
Plus, it's always nice to watch a patriotic movie without having to hear Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" two hundred times.
Questions About Patriotism
Did any/all of these characters put their love of country above their love of people? Or even above their love of themselves?
Rick had engaged in certain patriotic activities in the past, before he became a club owner. What caused him to stop?
That "duel of songs" was pretty intense. If the Nazis were all about having their way and not getting pushed around, why did they allow Laszlo and the orchestra to drown them out without it turning into a brawl…or a gunfight at the O.K. Corral?
Rick is American but has been living abroad for a really long time. Do you think he now questions exactly where his allegiance lies?
Chew on This
You can't have patriotic feelings about a country other than the one you call home.
The Germans in this film were at least as patriotic than the refugees, maybe more so.