Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Casablanca Week: Rick's Cafe Americain vs. The Blue Parrot

One of the fascinating unexplored aspects of the "Casablanca" universe is the Blue Parrot, the nightclub and ostensible competitor to Rick's Café Americain across the way. The Blue Parrot is owned by Ferrari, and since he's played by the great Sydney Greenstreet, you know you have a character and a place worth examining.

The movie only gives us hints, though, with a few tantalizing exchanges between Rick and Ferrari that establish that the latter controls not only the black market in Casablanca, but also the shipments of goods that arrive to restock their establishments. As Rick points out, it's always just a little short when Ferrari sends the Cafe's portion over. But, hey, Rick sees it all as part of the cost of doing business.

When Ilsa is pumping Sam for info on where Rick is, he lies that he has taken a girl he's seeing over to the Blue Parrot. Just because it isn't true in this case doesn't mean it isn't ever the case. I like the idea of Rick taking a hot date over to his competitor's place. It just wouldn't be classy to take her to your own bar, I guess.

We don't see much of the Parrot, but it looks like a more mysterious place with less (as in zero) live music and maybe a less festive atmosphere. We don't SEE any gambling going on there, but I would be shocked--shocked--to find that gambling ISN'T going on in Ferrari's establishment as it is in Rick's.

What really intrigues me is the relationship between the two places. Rick and Farrari clearly have a semi-friendly relationship, but I would like to see kind of a Gary's Olde Towne Tavern/Cheers vibe, only without the outright hatred. It would be great if the two had annual prank wars. Oh, Rick would pretend to be all detached and not care, and Ferrari would also place himself above the fray, but you know that they'd be sitting in the back obsessing over how to screw the other one over.

I can see Sasha doing something juvenile like putting something sticky on Ferrari's flyswatter so he wouldn't be able to get it out of his hand. Then Rick would be like, "Think bigger, guys! Think bigger!" Surely Ferrari would have no problem creating outrageous pranks. I'll bet it would only take a couple exchanges before Sam's piano ended up on top of the Café.

It would escalate until one or both of the nightclubs exploded--during the morning, of course, when no one would be hurt--and a smirking Captain Renault collected ample reparations from Rick and Farrari for "disturbing the peace." Then the two proprietors would look at each other, grin, and start rebuilding...and thinking up new schemes.

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