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'Play it again, Sam' is in Casablanca

'Play it again, Sam' is not in Casablanca

The most famous movie line ever?

Ask anyone unfamiliar with this MMDE to quote a line from Casablanca and odds on they'll instantly reply with 'Play it again, Sam'. You guessed it - that's not in the movie, and never has been.

Starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, Casablanca (1942) consistently ranks near the top of the list of the greatest films ever made.

Similar to the Beam me up, Scotty and Me Tarzan, you Jane etc memes, this particular misconception seems to arise when a short, memorable quote to sum up a powerful image of the story as a whole was provided, and it's inclusion in the production isn't actually necessary. It's a kind of single-phrase summary which becomes so associated with the story it ends up getting a life of its own.


The movie began as a play, which director Hal B Wallis purchased the rights to in January 1942. Shooting began in May 1942 and the films was complete by September that year. it was one of many produced at the same time, and at the time didn't seem to any of those involved to be anything special, and certainly no different to the calibre of the hundreds of others in the run that year. it was released ahead of schedule to take advantage of the allied invasion of North Africa a few weeks earlier, and had it's premiere on November 26, 1942. It was a "regular" success, neither a flop or massive hit on release. Little did everyone know it would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture and become recognised as one of the greatest films in movie history.

The actual dialog

The closest we get is:

Ilsa LundPlay it once, Sam. For old times' sake.

Sam: I don't know what you mean, Miss Elsa.

Ilsa Lund: Play it, Sam. Play "As Time Goes By."

Sam: Oh, I can't remember it, Miss Elsa. I'm a little rusty on it.