Wednesday, February 29, 2012

5 Amazing Performances From Actors Who Weren't Acting

Here's my favorite, #2. Casablanca: The Marseillaise Scene:
... Rick (Humphrey Bogart) is upstairs chatting with Laszlo, notorious resistance leader and husband to Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman). Some German patrons begin to annoy the other customers by rudely singing "Die Wacht am Rhein"...To this point, Rick had stayed pretty neutral on the whole "Nazi" issue. But in this pivotal scene, Rick lends a single nod of support Laszlo's way. Laszlo and the other bar patrons find the courage to drown out the Nazis with their own patriotic verse of "La Marseillaise" (loose translation: "The Marseillaise"), and the Nazis, thoroughly out-Glee-ed, leave in a huff.

The patrons celebrate their small victory, some clearly moved to tears. The thing is, nothing in the script actually called for crying. Unlike most of the entries on this list, this one has less to do with a sociopathic director and more to do with the time and place the film was made.

See, this was a World War II movie ... that was being filmed in the middle of World War goddamned II.

It's easy to forget that part, now that hundreds of movies (and seemingly thousands of video games) have been based on the war in the decades since it ended. Casablanca was shot in 1941 during the German occupation of France, at a point where many questioned whether or not the United States would ever step in to help, and when nobody knew how the whole thing was going to turn out.

And the scene included actors who, in real life, had a lot at stake. To shoot Casablanca as a believable port town, producers brought together one of the most ethnically diverse casts in film history, and a lot of these extras turned out to be Europeans who had fled to America to escape the Nazis -- that is, they were basically real-life refugees. They had left homes, friends and families behind, and at this point really didn't know if things could ever return to normal. Which makes us wonder if the director didn't stage the whole war just to get that scene.
Go read it all at Cracked (keeping in mind, of course, that this is Cracked and there is bound to be language that may raise eyebrows).

1 comment:

  1. I was up the Vam Co Tay River on the Cambodian border in 1970 -- alas that there was no soundtrack and few memorable lines.