humanities discussion question and need an explanation and answer to help me learn.
Please do not combine the answers.
Use the provided glossary for the Technical term definitions if needed https://www.elginisd.net/cms/lib6/TX01917830/Centr….
Joseph Campbell identified and named the Hero’s Journey: a journey of character, aka the character arc, in which Richard Blaine begins as the holdfast (“I’m miserable and nobody and nothing’s going to make me feel better or change my ways” — not an exact quote, but a valid description of his character at the beginning of the film I think; remember, we first see him playing chess with himself) and ends by coming back to his true self: a patriot and hero, moving forward with his life.
NOTE — I’m using both definitions of the word “character” here — one definition is someone in a film, play, novel or poem (Richard Blaine, for example). The other is the persona, the mental, moral and personal qualities of an individual (what does Richard Blaine believe, who is he, what inside him makes him do what he does?).
Two of the major elements in Rick’s journey are Ilsa’s revelations that she was married to Victor Laslo before she knew Rick in Paris, and that she abandoned Rick in Paris to go to her sick husband while knowing that if she told Rick why she was staying he’d stay too, be imprisoned in a Nazi German concentration camp, and probably end up dead. These all hearken to the theme of female purity as the basis of love –in other words, Ilsa was truly a good (pure) woman, doing the best she could under difficult circumstances, being a dutiful wife to her husband and protecting the man she loved.
So let’s talk about female purity as the basis of love. Here are a few questions to get your started (answer as few or as many of these as you like — they are just meant to be starting points for discussion):
Do you see a link between the Madonna/Whore complex (a woman is either a whore or a Madonna/mother/saintly figure –NOT the singer/actress Madonna) and the idea of female purity as a basis for love?
Where do you think the concept of female purity as the basis for love comes from? In other words, the idea that only a “pure” woman is worthy of love and marriage? Historically, culturally, religiously?
Why do you think Ilsa’s revelations change Rick’s idea of her, and therefore his unhappiness at his love for her?
How do Ilsa’s revelations allow them both to move forward from the spot they’re stuck in? He, miserable and maintaining a very thick wall against emotional involvement of any kind? She, stuck in a marriage with a man she admits to admire, but never says she loves; a “great and courageous man” to whom she is life and purpose?
I think that’s enough to get us started.
Directions: Your post must be well thought out and have some substance to it. Use examples/evidence to back up your statements. Include details from the films (scenes, dialogue). It must be at least a paragraph of at least six complete sentences. I prefer that your use the course materials and your own knowledge in your answer. However, if you do quote or paraphrase from non-course research sources, you must acknowledge those sources, MLA style
Watch the film, and read the chapter. I also recommend reading the screenplay.
Answer the following questions.
A. Citizen Kane is a masterful example of Formalism, where the director shapes the film to emphasize and strengthen his/her exploration of a theme. One of the themes Orson Welles explores in Citizen Kane is that of fragmentation (no-one can truly know someone else completely, as well as the idea of fragmentation of character). How does the non-linear and subjective narrative work to explore the theme of fragmentation?
B. Citizen Kane is considered to be one of the greatest films ever made. Do you agree? Why? Why not?
C. The last word Kane utters is “rosebud.” He says this, and drops the snow globe he is holding, which rolls down the stairs next to his bed, and then breaks. We find out, at the very end of the film, what “rosebud” meant — it was his childhood sled. But what about that snow globe? How does that snow globe tie in with his childhood? Where does it first appear chronologically in Kane’s life? Why do you think he is holding it as he is dying? What does it mean that as he dropped, it broke?
Write at least one paragraph for each of at least five sentences. Use specifics from the film (scenes, dialogue, etc.) and the names of the characters, actors, and director.
Your post must be well thought out and have some substance to it. Use examples/evidence to back up your statements. Include details from the films (scenes, dialogue). It must be at least a paragraph for each or at least six complete sentences.
The Scarlet Clue
Watch the film, and read the lecture.
It deals with two of the major things (racism and gender). A triple-whammy, actually, because we even get to discuss Yellowface (Asian characters on screen, played by white/Caucasian actors).
Choose ONE of the following questions to answer:
A. What did you think of Mantan Moreland’s performance as Birmingham Brown? How does his performance in this role exemplify negative racist stereotypes in the United States in the 1940’s (and before, and since, and still)?
B. What did you think of Sidney Toler as Charlie Chan? How does his performance exemplify the American and European (white) attitude and negative assumptions and stereotypes about Asians (non-white) as portrayed on film?
C. How does the role of Mrs. Marsh (the harsh, mean [okay, bitchy] business woman) exemplify the negative attitudes and stereotypes about women in business in the United States in the 1940’s? What does the role say about the expectations for women then? Is it any different today?
Write at least one paragraph, of at least six sentences. Use specifics from the film (scenes, dialogue, etc.). Use the names of the characters, actors, director, etc.
Your post must be well thought out, and have some substance to it. Use examples/evidence to back up your statements. Include details from the films (scenes, dialogue). It must be at least a paragraph, of at least six complete sentences for each question. I encourage you to include your own thoughts and ideas on the films.
Early Short Films
Read the Early Films chapter (I’ve included the first chapter from the textbook, in case you don’t have the textbook yet) read the History of Motion Pictures (specific pages mentioned in syllabus), and watch the three early short, silent, black and white films (A Train Arriving at La Ciotat, A Voyage to the Moon, the Immigrant). You will find these films (and the readings) in the module for Week 1. Do a journal entry by answering all the questions below:
A Train Arriving at La Ciotat:
We will examine this film as a historical document — in other words, what it tells us about the people, place and the time in which it was made (rural France, in the 1890s).
1: What do you notice about the race, gender and class of the individuals using the train and in the train station, and what conclusions can you draw from your observations?
Voyage Dans La Lune (A Voyage to the Moon):
We are analyzing this film also as a historical document, and for the contextual attitudes and assumptions we can discover underlying the story of the film.
2: What do you notice about the race, gender and class of the scientist/astronauts, and the other characters in the film, and what conclusions do you draw from your observations?
We are also analyzing this film as a historical document.
3: The main character in this film, Charles Chaplin’s comedic character, the Little Tramp, was wildly popular at the time. Starting with what you see in this film, make conclusions about what you think accounts for the general popularity of the Little Tramp.
Answer each question, with at least a paragraph, of at least six sentences, in separate paragraphs, numbered according to the questions.
Your post must be well thought out and have some substance to it. Use examples/evidence to back up your statements, including details from the films (scenes, dialogue, etc.).
I prefer that your use the course materials and your own knowledge in your answer. You are encouraged to add any other observations or comments about all the early films we watched.
Casablanca is referred to as a genre-bender: in other words, it is possible to fit it into a number of different genres (buddy movie, fairy tale, love story, war movie).
In your opinion, which genre best fits the film, and why?
Write at least one paragprah, of at least five full sentences, using specific examples (scenes, dialogue) from the film to support your choice of genre.
In this question, it is okay to use first person (“I”).
Give answer for the following:
In Citizen Kane, Orson Welles plays a character he created based in large part on the newspaper tycoon?
In Casablanca, the actor __________________________ who played the role of Major Strasser, was a German Jewish refugee.
In Casablanca, according to the analysis of the film using Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, Prefect of Police Captain Louis Renault acts as _________________________ and _____________________________________ to Rick, at the beginning of the film.
The structure of myth which Joseph Campbell identified is known as ___________________________________.
The McGuffin in the film Casablanca is
The practice of a white (European or American) actor portraying an Asian is called __________________________.
Using the provided glossary, define the term “P.O.V. shot” (or “point-of-view shot”). State the definition in the glossary. Then, in a second paragraph, give the definition in your own words.
Using the provided glossary, define the term “pace.” State the definition from the glossary. Then, in a second paragraph, give the definition in your own words.
Requirements: SEE ABOVE
Humanities 17: Film Appreciation
Prof. Mary Copeland
Directed by Michael Curtiz
History, Contexts, and Themes: The Hero’s Journey
Casablanca is full of quotable dialogue. These are a few of my personal favorites which you might recognize:
“Here’s looking at you, kid.”
“Kiss me. Kiss me as if it were the last time.”
“Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.”
“Round up the usual suspects.”
“What in heaven’s name brought you to Casablanca?” “My health, I came to Casablanca for the waters.” “The waters? What waters? We’re in the desert.” “I was misinformed.”
“What is your nationality?” “I’m a drunkard.”
“Remember, this gun is pointed right at your heart.” “That is my least vulnerable spot.”
“I like to think you killed a man. It’s the romantic in me…”
“I’d bet they’re asleep in New York. I’d bet they’re asleep all over America…”
“I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
“Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By.’” (this line is usually inaccurately quoted as “Play it again, Sam.”)
“We’ll always have Paris.”
“I’m just a poor, corrupt official.”
Starring Humphrey Bogart as Richard Blaine (Rick), Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa Lund, Paul Heinreid as Victor Laszlo, Claude Rains as Captain Louis Renault, Peter Lorre as Ugarte, Sydney Greenstreet as Ferrari, Dooley Wilson as Sam, and Conrad Veidt as Major Heinreich Strasser, the classic and much-loved romantic melodrama, always found on top ten lists of films, is a tale of two men vying for one woman’s love. It is also a tale of redemption.
Richard Blaine runs a “saloon” in Casablanca. His orderly and unhappy life suddenly takes a new turn when, in the same night, his acquaintance Ugarte is captured by the police on suspicion of having murdered German couriers and stolen the letters of transit they ae carrying, and an old flame (Ilsa) walks into his joint on the arm of another man (Victor Laszlo). Rick and Ilsa were lovers in Paris earlier in the war; they were about to leave the city to avoid German occupation when Ilsa left Rick standing in the train station without an explanation. Now, a few years later, she and Laszlo are trying to buy the letters of transit to travel to America, so he can continue his fight against the Germans.
The story of political and romantic espionage is set against the backdrop of the wartime conflict between democracy and totalitarianism. Although Casablanca was an A-list film with established stars and first-rate writers, no one involved with its production expected it to be anything out of the ordinary. With its rich and smoky atmosphere, anti-Nazi propaganda, Max Steiner’s superb musical score, suspense, unforgettable characters (supposedly 34 nationalities are included in its cast, and many of its actors were refugees from a war-dominated Europe) and memorable lines of dialogue, it is considered by many to be one of the most popular, magical, and flawless films of all time.
Woody Allen’s Play It Again, Sam (1972) paid reverential homage to the film, as have the lesser films Cabo Blanco (1981) and Barb Wire (1996), and the animated Bugs Bunny short Carrotblanca (1995). The line “Play it again, Sam” appeared in the Marx Brothers’ A Night in Casablanca (1946). Clips or references to the film have been used in Play It Again, Sam (1972), Brazil (1985), My Stepmother is an Alien (1988), and When Harry Met Sally (1989).
Directed by Hungarian Michael Curtiz, and shot almost entirely on sets on the Warner Bros. lot (except for the initial airport sequence), the film moves quickly through a surprisingly tightly-constructed plot, considering that the script was written from day to day as the filming progressed and no one knew how it would end. The collaborative screenplay was mainly the result of the efforts of Julius J. and Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch. In all, six writers took the play’s script, and with the models of Algiers (1938) and Only Angels Have Wings (1939) to follow, they transformed the romantic tale into this quintessential classic that samples almost every film genre (noir, suspense, romance, war drama, etc.). Three weeks after shooting ended, producer Hal Wallis contributed the film’s famous final line delivered on a fog-shrouded runway.
The story, originally structured as a one-set stage piece, was based on an unproduced play entitled Everybody Comes to Rick’s by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison (Everybody Comes to Rick’s was also the film’s original title).
Many stars were considered for the lead roles, including Hedy Lamarr, “Oomph Girl” Ann Sheridan, French actress Michele Morgan, and George Raft. It is an ‘urban legend’ that Ronald Reagan was seriously considered for a role in the film. The Warner Bros. publicity office famously planted a pre-production press release in The Hollywood Reporter on January 5, 1942 (it was also released to dozens of newspapers across the country two days later), stating that Reagan would costar with Ann Sheridan for the third time in Casablanca actually in order to encourage support for their soon-to-be-released film Kings Row (1942). And pianist Sam (portrayed by “Dooley” Wilson who was actually a drummer) was originally to be played by a female (either Hazel Scott, Lena Horne, or Ella Fitzgerald). The lead male part went to Humphrey Bogart in his first romantic lead as the “tough and cynical on the outside, morally principled and sentimental on the inside” cafe owner in Casablanca, Morocco. His appearance with costar Ingrid Bergman was their first and last. The role made him a star.
The role of the Bulgarian newlywed Annina Brandel was played by Joy Page, the stepdaughter of Jack L. Warner, a president of the Warner Brothers studio. It was her film debut.
Conrad Veidt, who plays the main Nazi villain of the piece (Renault describes his character, Strasser, as one of the reasons the Third Reich has been as successful as it has), was actually a Jewish refugee from Germany.
The big-budget film (of slightly less than $1 million), took in box-office of slightly more than $4 million. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards for the year 1943, including Best Actor (Humphrey Bogart), Best Supporting Actor (Claude Rains), Best B/W Cinematography (Arthur Edeson, known for The Maltese Falcon ), Best Score (Max Steiner, known for Gone With the Wind ), and Best Film Editing (Owen Marks). The film won three awards: Best Picture (producer Hal B. Wallis), Best Director, and Best Screenplay. Bogart lost to Paul Lukas in Watch on the Rhine. And Bergman wasn’t even nominated for this film, but was nominated for Best Actress for For Whom The Bell Tolls (she lost to Jennifer Jones in The Song of Bernadette).
The song “As Time Goes By,” which plays a major part in the film, is still a classic today.
The plot of the film ostensibly centers around letters of transit, carried by two German couriers who are murdered in the “unoccupied” desert before the film opens. The letters of transit are described as being signed by General DeGaulle; they cannot be rescinded or questioned. This makes little sense. General Charles DeGaulle was the leader of the Free French—essentially French who refused to be part of the collaborationist Vichy government. There’s a debate between devotees of Casablanca as to who Ugarte says the letters are signed by, Vichy France’s national defense minister Gen. Maxime Weygand (whose authority, quite frankly, the Germans could and likely would have very easily overlooked) or DeGaulle (whose signature would carry no weight at all with the Third Reich). And why would German couriers be carrying letters of transit signed by a leader of the Free French? Or even the Vichy government?
Much as in The Maltese Falcon, the letters of transit are the McGuffin around which the film is built.
The movie is set in December of 1941, the same month as the attack on Pearl Harbor, which finally sounded the death knell for isolationism in America, and was filmed during a time when President Roosevelt equivocated and vacillated between committing America’s support to the French Vichy government (collaborating with Germany) or DeGaulle (the Free French).
Warner Bros. capitalized on the political situation for free publicity. The film was released just three weeks after the Allied landing at the Axis-occupied, North African city of Casablanca (the invasion was known as Operation Torch, and was under the command of General Eisenhower); General Patton’s forces took the city on November 10th. Casablanca played first as a pre-release engagement on Thanksgiving Day, 1942 at the Hollywood Theater in New York. On the last day of 1942, Roosevelt actually screened the film at the White House.
In January, 1943, a summit meeting was held in Casablanca (the Casablanca Conference), at which Roosevelt broke the United State’s ties with the Vichy government. The conference was attended by Churchill, Roosevelt, and two French leaders: DeGaulle (the charismatic Free French leader) and General Henri Giraud (supportive of Marshal Petain).
Themes/The Hero’s Journey
The story focuses on the themes of lost love, honor, redemption, duty, self-sacrifice, the necessity of doing what is right no matter what the cost, and the possibilities of romance in a chaotic world. The film explores the participation of women in war, as well as the ideas of female purity as the basis for love. Rick also serves as the representation of an America not yet involved in the European conflict (at one point, Rick is actually told that “When will you learn that isolationism is not always the best policy”).
Casablanca can be viewed as a modern allegory, in its use of symbolic fictional characters
and actions to express truths about human existence. As with all transformative art, the
movie can be experienced from many perspectives: as nothing more than a love story, as film noir, as a political thriller (1940s style), or as a profound allegory. It can also be seen as an extended metaphor: Rick’s change from being cynical and self-serving to a man committed to the cause of anti-fascism for which he gives up the woman he loves, is an extended metaphor for the movement of the U.S. from isolationism to engagement on the world stage.
Rick’s character arc is an excellent example of what renowned mythologist Joseph Campbell calls The Hero’s Journey. Campbell created this model for story based on his studies in world mythology, mythic archetypes and narrative patterns; he set out his model in his 1949 book The Hero With a Thousand Faces. His model applies not only to myth and story, but also to film and literature, and can also be used as an approach to studying the lives of individuals. The Hero’s Journey is at the base of the plots of some of the most influential films of our time (the original three Star Wars installments, for example), and proves the importance and effectiveness of Campbell’s model for story.
The Hero’s Journey is literally that — an internal and/or external journey of the protagonist, on an adventure or quest. Along the way, there are certain Archetypes that the Hero encounters, who hinder or help him along his way.
Archetypes are recurring patterns of human behavior, symbolized by standard types of characters in movies and stories. The main Archetypes in the Hero’s Journey include:
HEROES: Central figures in stories. Everyone is the hero of his or her own myth.
SHADOWS: Villains and enemies, perhaps the enemy within. The dark side of the Force, the repressed possibilities of the hero, his or her potential for evil. Can be other kinds of repression, such as repressed grief, anger, frustration or creativity that is dangerous if it doesn’t have an outlet.
MENTORS: The hero’s guide or guiding principles. Yoda, Merlin, Gandalf, a great coach or teacher.
HERALD: One who brings the Call to Adventure. Could be a person or an event.
THRESHOLD GUARDIANS: The forces that stand in the way at important turning points, including jealous enemies, professional gatekeepers, or your own fears and doubts.
SHAPESHIFTERS: In stories, creatures like vampires or werewolves who change shape. In life, the shapeshifter represents change. The way other people (or our perceptions of them) keep changing. The opposite sex, the way people can be two-faced.
TRICKSTERS: Clowns and mischief-makers, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy. Our own mischievous subconscious, urging us to change.
ALLIES: Characters who help the hero through the change. Sidekicks, buddies, girlfriends who advise the hero through the transitions of life.
As a hardened American expatriate, Rick (our Hero) runs a bar/casino (Rick’s Cafe Americain) in World War II, French-occupied Morocco. Ilsa, a former lover, married to heroic Czechoslovakian Resistance leader Victor Lazlo, comes back into his life. At first stubbornly isolationist (in his private life as well as in his politics), Rick is eventually inspired to give up the chance for personal happiness with Ilsa and instead to support the Resistance, sending her off with her husband to continue their part of the fight against Hitler and Hitler’s Germany. Rick’s internal conflict is that he has been a freedom fighter in the past, and still has the urge to fight the good fight. His encounters with Victor, as well as Ilsa’s return, rekindle Rick’s idealist nature, helping to bring about change in Rick’s life and persona. There is another trigger to Rick’s change: his encounter with the young Bulgarian bride, who helps him to frame Ilsa’s actions in a different way. His decision to help the young wife is an early manifestation of the change in his character.
Analysis of Casablanca According to the Stages of Campbell’s Hero’s Journey
1) Ordinary world: Casablanca, Africa in 1941. During World War II, The Nazi shadow threatens the security of the whole world. It is in this climate that refugees from Europe flood into Casablanca, looking to escape to America. In Casablanca, Rick runs a popular nightclub. He’s a cold, secretive cynic of a man who looks after himself only. He is an anti-hero whose cynical shell protects his broken heart and his inner conflict.
2) First Call to Adventure: (Journey of the Higher Cause) Ugarte, a black market trader, gives Rick stolen letters of transit (visas) for safekeeping. Rick hides them. The Nazis are on the trail of these stolen letters of transit, as are the local police, who arrest Ugarte before he can recover the letters from Rick.
3) Herald/Mentor: Rick is approached by Prefect of Police, Captain Louis Renault, who notifies him of the coming of the Czechoslovakian resistance leader, Victor Laszlo, and his beautiful companion, Ilsa. Renault functions as Rick’s mentor, as an ideal model for being cold and unsympathetic. At one point, Renault even describes himself as a “poor corrupt official.” However, Renault sees Rick not for what he is trying to be (like Renault), but instead as he really is: a sentimentalist. He warns Rick not to get involved with Laszlo.
4) Refusal of Call: Rick agrees not to get involved with Laszlo or to help him escape Casablanca.
5) Accepting the Call: Rick eventually does become involved with Laszlo’s cause against the Nazi’s and helps him (and Ilsa) escape Casablanca.
6) Second call to Adventure: (Journey of the Heart) Ilsa turns out to be Rick’s former lover, who abandoned him when the German army advanced on Paris. She and Laszlo arrive at Rick’s Café, and Rick fights to suppress the emotions sparked by the unexpected encounter.
7) Refusal of the Call: Rick pretends that Ilsa’s arrival does not bother him.
8) Accepting the Call: Rick realizes that he still loves Ilsa and wants her back.
9) Belly of the Beast: In a darkened room, Rick drinks his sorrows away; his past has caught up with him, and threatens the stability of the little world he’s created for himself, removed from heartache and commitment.
10) Ordeal/Crucifixion & Dismemberment/Rebirth: In a flashback, we see the Paris romance between Ilsa and Rick. The two plan to escape Paris before the Nazis invade, but Ilsa abandons Rick at the train station with nothing more than a goodbye letter, which causes Rick to go from an idealist freedom fighter to a cold-hearted cynic.
11) Road of Trials: (Journey of the Higher Cause): Throughout the film, Rick’s decision to not help Laszlo and Ilsa escape Casablanca, based in his refusal to move away from his own anger and hurt, is challenged and weakened. The real trial comes when Laszlo confronts Rick, asking to buy the visas. In this moment Rick not only see’s that Laszlo is a good man who loves Ilsa dearly, but has the flames of his inner freedom fighter stoked by Laszlo’s passionate words. In this scene Laszlo, a true hero, becomes Rick’s mentor. Laszlo even asks Rick to use the visas to escape with Ilsa in order to ensure her safety. Rick is moved by this noble sacrifice; Laszlo functions in this instance as Rick’s mentor, attempting to bring him back to his higher, noble self. With each one of these trials, Rick gets closer and closer to returning to his idealist roots. Laszlo is soon arrested and Rick must choose what to do next.
12) Road of Trials: (Journey of the Heart): As the film progresses, Rick tries to win Ilsa back even though he still thinks ill of her for her (as he sees it) abandonment of him. However, at every try she refuses him, even at one point telling him that Laszlo is and was her husband, even when she knew him in Casablanca. This is a major hint that she is not what he thought she was.
He is given another view of Ilsa, and a hint as to llsa’s real character in the parallel situation of the young Bulgarian refugee couple. The wife approaches him in his saloon one evening to ask if Captain Renault will “keep his word”–in other words, if she sleeps with Renault, he will give both her and her husband the exit visas they cannot afford to get any other way, so they can travel to America. She asks him if it would be okay for her to commit this infidelity in a good cause, as long as her husband never knows the “bad thing” she has done; she is sacrificing her honor to give her husband something they both desperately want–to get out of Europe. Rick fixes it so the husband wins at the roulette table: the wife’s sacrifice is not necessary, and he saves her honor as he will later save Ilsa’s honor and her marriage. This is an indication both of the changes to his character and a foreshadowing of his own later sacrifice of Ilsa so that she and her husband can leave Casablanca to carry on the fight against the Nazis.
Ilsa finally forces a confrontation, threatening to shoot Rick if he does not give her the visas so Laszlo can leave Casablanca. Instead, she breaks down, confessing her love for Rick and explaining why she left him in Paris (she had just gotten word that Laszlo, whom she had thought dead, was actually alive, and hiding on the outskirts of Paris. She had left Rick to join her husband). She also tells him that if she had told him the truth, he would have stayed, and have been in danger of being arrested by the Nazis. So instead, she made the sacrifice of staying with her husband, while Rick leaves Casablanca. With this, Rick is finally able to forgive the past pain, and move from his frozen emotional state. He sees Ilsa, again, as the woman he loves, not as the tramp he has imagined her to be ever since he had had to leave Paris without her. He is now faced with a hard choice about what to do next, as she tells him that “she’ll never have the strength to leave him again,” and “he must do the thinking for all of them.”
13) Temptation: With Ilsa’s confession of love, Rick is tempted to run away with her and leave Casablanca, Laszlo, and the troubles of the world behind. Whether or not Rick will give into that temptation is a mystery only solved in the last scene of the film.
14) Apotheosis: After Laszlo’s arrest, Rick–acting as a shape shifter–convinces Renault to release the freedom fighter as part of his plot to give Laszlo and Ilsa the visas and aid their escape from Casablanca, persuading Renault that he will give Renault the opportunity to arrest Laszlo once he has given him the visas, thereby clearing the way for himself and Ilsa to be together. That night, at the café, Renault attempts to re-arrest Laszlo but Rick intervenes, finally acting openly as the Hero. He demands safe passage for Ilsa and Laszlo to the airport.
At the airport, Rick makes his own noble sacrifice and sends Ilsa away with Laszlo. He realizes that they must all accept the call to the higher cause. Without Ilsa’s support and love, Laszlo cannot fight the evil Nazis.
15) Ultimate Boon: Ilsa and Laszlo escape Casablanca and Rick is redeemed as a hero and patriot. Laszlo, still functioning as Rick’s mentor, welcomes him back to the fight, even going so far as to tell him that “this time, I know our side will win.”
In a parallel Hero’s Journey and character arc, Renault decides to leave Casablanca with Rick, to join the Free French garrison nearby. Tired of chafing under Nazi influence and the policies of the collaborationist French government at Vichy, he, too, has been redeemed by Rick’s sacrifice, and makes his own sacrifice: leaving his snug position as police prefect of Casablanca to be instead, again, the freedom fighter and patriot he, too, used to be. Renault continues to function as Rick’s mentor, but now it is in a positive way, as opposed to the negative shape his mentorship had previously taken.
Humanities 17: Film Appreciation
Prof. Mary Copeland
The Scarlet Clue (1945)
Directed by Phil Rosen
History, Criticism, Contexts
History of Asians in the United States and Legal Discrimination
Yellowface and Fu Manchu
Mantan Moreland and Birmingham Brown
This entry into the Charlie Chan film series stars Sidney Toler as Charlie Chan, and features Mantan Moreland playing Birmingham Brown. Set against the world of radio, Chan is on the trail of a spy who is trying to steal secret plans for radar.
Charlie Chan is a fictional literary character created by Earl Derr Biggers. Biggers loosely based Chan on Honolulu detective Chang Apana, and conceived of the benevolent and heroic Chan as an alternative to Yellow Peril stereotypes and villains like Fu Manchu. Chan is a detective for the Honolulu police, though many stories feature Chan traveling the world as he investigates mysteries and solves crimes.
Over four dozen films featuring Charlie Chan were made, beginning in 1926. The character was first portrayed by East Asian actors, and the films met with little success. In 1931, Fox Films cast Swedish actor Warner Oland as Chan in Charlie Chan Carries On; the film became popular, and Fox went on to produce fifteen more Chan films with Oland in the title role.
Following the death of Oland, Fox gave the role to Sidney Toler. Filming began in 1938 on Charlie Chan in Honolulu. Toler’s portrayal of the Chinese detective was very well received. Toler’s Chan, rather than merely mimicking the character that Oland had portrayed, had a somewhat sharper edge that was well suited for the rapid changes of the times, both political and cultural. When needed, Charlie Chan now displayed overt sarcasm, usually toward his Number Two Son Jimmy, played by Sen Yung, who replaced Number One Son Lee, played by Keye Luke.
In 1942, following the completion of Castle in the Desert, Fox concluded the series. The wartime collapse of the international film market may have been a factor, but the main reason was that Fox was curtailing virtually all of its low-budget series.
Toler immediately sought the screen rights to the character from Eleanor Biggers Cole. He hoped that Fox would distribute new Charlie Chan films, starring himself, if he could find someone willing to finance the productions. Fox declined, but Toler sold the idea to Monogram Pictures, a lower-budget film studio. Phil Krasne, a Hollywood lawyer who invested in film productions, partnered with James Burkett to produce the Monogram Chans.
With the release of Charlie Chan in the Secret Service (1944), the effects of a more limited budget were apparent. Production values were no match for those of Fox; Monogram’s budgets were typically about 40% of what Fox’s had been. In fairness to Monogram, the films did gradually improve, with The Chinese Cat, The Shanghai Cobra, and Dark Alibi often cited as favorites by fans. Cast changes were again made: Sen Yung’s Jimmy was replaced by Benson Fong as Number Three Son Tommy, and Mantan Moreland played the ever-present and popular Birmingham Brown, who brought comedy relief (and black audiences) to the series. Monogram’s Charlie Chan films boasted tricky screenplays with many surprise culprits and murder devices, and were profitable and successful. After Toler’s death, six more Chan films were made, starring Roland Winters.
More recent film adaptations in the 1990s have been poorly received. In Neil Simon’s Murder By Death, Peter Sellers plays a Chinese detective called Sidney Wang, a parody of Chan.
In 1980, Jerry Sherlock began production on a comedy film to be called Charlie Chan and the Dragon Lady. A group calling itself C.A.N. (Coalition of Asians to Nix) was formed, protesting the fact that non-Chinese actors, Peter Ustinov and Angie Dickinson, had been cast in the primary roles. Others protested that the film script contained a number of stereotypes; Sherlock responded that the film was not a documentary. The film was released the following year as Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen and was an “abysmal failure.” An updated film version of the character was planned in the 1990s by Miramax. While this Charlie Chan was to be “hip, slim, cerebral, sexy and… a martial-arts master,” nonetheless the film did not come to fruition. Actress Lucy Liu is slated to star in and executive-produce a new Charlie Chan film for Fox. The film has been in preproduction since 2000; as of 2009 it was still slated to be produced.
The character has also been featured in several radio programs, two television shows, and comics.
(Brief Overview) History of Asians in the United States and Legal Discrimination
When Asian immigrants first arrived in the United States, they were welcomed as cheap labor. But after the California gold rush brought a flood of Asian immigrants to California, that cheap Asian labor began to be seen as a threat. What began as neutral or amusing stereotypical caricatures of Asians soon took on more negative connotations. As a trickle turned into a flood, (between 1850 and 1930, about one million Asians from China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and India came to the United States) a backlash soon developed. Asian immigrants and the assimilation of Asians into society was said to pose “the greatest threat to Western civilization and the White Race” and increasingly restrictive laws were passed; first to keep Asians out of the skilled trades, then to restrict further immigration, and later to end all Asian immigration.
The 1850 Foreign Miners Tax placed a $20 a month tax on all miners of foreign origin in California. The 1852 version of the law placed a $3 a month tax exclusively for Chinese laborers. Taxes for Chinese steadily increased with ever harsher bills passing the California Legislature and signed into law by then California Governor Bigler. One law passed by the State Legislature and signed by the Governor created a $50 tax per head for Chinese entering Californian ports that was to be paid within three days. The California Supreme Court later ruled the law unconstitutional.
The Anti-Coolie Act was enacted by the state of California in 1862. Its proper title is “An act to protect free white labor against competition with Chinese coolie labor, and to discourage the immigration of the Chinese into the State of California.” It was designed to protect native residents of the state from competition in the labor market from Chinese immigrant manual laborers. It aimed to discourage Chinese citizens from immigrating to California by placing a per capita tax on all Chinese laborers in the state of California. The “police tax” required a monthly work permit for any worker over the age of 18 of the “Mongolian Race.” The act exempted Chinese workers engaged in the production or manufacture of sugar, rice, coffee or tea.
When Chinese miners lost their jobs, they turned to the Central Pacific Railroad, which was desperate for workers. About 12,000 Chinese worked to build the most difficult part of the transcontinental railroad in the Rocky Mountains. However, once the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, the Chinese workers were fired, excluded from the celebrations, and were not even allowed to ride on the railroad they had built and had to walk back to San Francisco. Such mistreatment was only the beginning of a long history of an anti-Chinese movement that galvanized the West in the 1870s and 1880s, during a devastating economic recession.
Chinese men were stereotyped as degenerate heroin addicts whose presence encouraged prostitution, gambling, and other immoral activities. In what becomes known as the Chinese Massacre of 1871, Chinese-occupied buildings were ransacked and residents were attacked or robbed in Los Angeles’ Chinatown by an angry mob of over 500 Whites. The county coroner confirmed 19 Chinese deaths at the hands of the mob and some estimates put the number of deaths at 84. In 1872, all ethnic Chinese were barred from owning real estate or business licenses in California.
A number of other cities on the West Coast (including Seattle in 1886) experienced riots in which Whites attacked Asians and destroyed Chinese sections of town. The Seattle riot resulted in practically the entire Chinese population being rounded up and forcibly sent to San Francisco. Similar situations in other towns encouraged Chinese workers scattered throughout the West to relocate, leading to the growth of Chinatowns in a few larger cities on the West Coast (particularly San Francisco).
Racially motivated attacks on Asians were certainly not limited to the West Coast. The Rock Springs, Wyoming massacre of 1885, was the result of racial tensions and an ongoing labor dispute over the Union Pacific Coal Department’s policy of paying Chinese miners lower wages than white miners. When the rioting ended, at least 28 Chinese miners were dead and 15 were injured.
During the late 19th Century and early parts of the 20th, anti-Asian sentiments were very common. The anti-Asian movement led to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and Gentlemen’s Agreement (with Japan) of 1907, both of which severely limited immigration from Asia. Newspapers, especially on the West Coast, stoked the fires of xenophobia with headlines like “The ‘Yellow Peril'” (Los Angeles Times, 1886) and “Conference Endorses Chinese Exclusion” (The New York Times, 1905). In the 1920s politicians responded with the Japanese Exclusion Act and the American Immigration Act, limiting the number of Asian immigrants because they were considered an “undesirable” race.
The “Yellow Peril” was also a frequent theme of pulp fiction in the early twentieth century and that was reflected in other entertainment media. One particular example is Jack London’s 1914 story The Unparalleled Invasion, which has been controversial for its depiction of genocide and provides evidence of London as a racist. The genocide, described in considerable detail, is throughout the book described as justified and “the only possible solution to the Chinese problem,” and nowhere is there mentioned any objection to it. The then commonly accepted phrases “Yellow Race,” “yellow crowds in streets,” “yellow faces,” and similar racial epithets are frequently used throughout the story. It ends with the “sanitation of China” and its re-settlement by Western settlers.
Pulp magazines in the 30s had a lot of “Yellow Peril” characters loosely based on Fu Manchu, the quintessential dangerous Chinese literary mastermind, created by Sax Rohmer (more about him later). Most were Chinese, but other were Japanese; because of Japanese imperialism in the Far East prior to World War II, a growing number of Americans feared Japanese immigrants. At the height of anti-Asian sentiment during World War II, the United States imprisoned over 100,000 American citizens of Japanese descent in internment camps. At the same time, the Japanese-American 442nd Infantry Unit was fighting in the European theater. These soldiers served with uncommon distinction, earning more combat decorations per man than any other unit in American history. Veterans returned home after the war to a country that was openly hostile to those of Asian descent.
This hostility was reflected in film, where clear stereotypes began to emerge defining ethnic lines of “good” Asians and “bad” Asians on film in response to Japan’s role in the Axis. Predictably, Asian Americans actors would spend most of the war years cast as sinister Japanese, often in films now viewed with some embarrassment. There were still “good Asian” roles being written, but they were restricted to Caucasian actors while Asian Americans played the villains.
The Magnuson Act was repealed in 1965—up until then, Asian Americans in all 50 states (including US citizens) were not only legally disfranchised but subjected to high rents and punitive taxes. United States laws against ethnic-Chinese immigration and property ownership (Alien Land Acts) in such states as Wyoming stayed intact until 2001.
Yellowface and Fu Manchu
Yellowface is another example of the racism prevalent in American culture. Yellowface means more than a white person wearing make-up to look Asian. It also describes the systematic bias against hiring real Asians to play Asian roles shown by white producers, directors, and others who control the depiction of Asians in popular culture through casting decisions and the propagation of racist Asian stereotypes and caricatures.
Racist Asian Stereotypes
The “Coolie” stereotype originated with Chinese laborers in the 1850s as a means of preventing Chinese from entering the skilled trades. The lowest-paying unskilled jobs were called “coolie labor.”
The “Yellow Peril” or pollutant stereotype began to take hold in 1890s California. Asians were viewed as alien and a threat to wage-earners, and a movement began that had the goal of making California racially pure.
The “Deviant” stereotype was a response to the movement of Asians from common labor to household servants, laundrymen, and operators of opium dens, and the importation of women for prostitution.
Asian women have often been portrayed as cunning “Dragon Ladies” — aggressive or opportunistic sexual beings or predatory gold diggers. Non-threatening stereotypes include servile Lotus Blossoms, China dolls, and Geisha girls.
The “Gook” stereotype originated with the US Military during the Korean War as a generic term for Asians, and became more popular during the Vietnam War. A gook is an invisible and powerful enemy with superhuman endurance and ability to absorb punishment.
The “Model Minority” stereotype originated in the 1950s as a representation of successful assimilation of Asians that was contrasted with the less successful assimilation of Blacks and Hispanics.
Yellowface on Stage: “Yellowface” portrayals in the United States date to at least 1767, when Arthur Murphy’s theatrical work The Orphan of China was presented in Philadelphia.
Yellowface in Film and TV: Whites in Yellowface have a long history on screen, beginning with Mary Pickford’s Cio-Cio San in Madame Butterfly (1915).
Yellowface Whitewashing: A phenomenon wherein white actors are cast to portray what were originally non-white characters is called “whitewashing.” Instead of using yellow face makeup, the film makers change the race or origin of the characters.
Yellowface in Europe: The most blatant contemporary example of Yellowface in Western European media is a character created by Dutch TV and later adopted by Danish TV called Ushi; a caricature of a Japanese woman, but played by white women.
Yellowface Caricatures in Politics: In 1997, The National Review magazine published an illustrated cover of then President Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, in stereotypical Oriental garb and featuring caricatured features, buck teeth and slanted eyes.
Dr. Fu Manchu is a fictional character introduced in a series of novels by British author Sax Rohmer during the first half of the 20th century. The character was also featured extensively in cinema, television, radio, comic strips, and comic books for over 90 years, and has become an archetype of the evil criminal genius, epitomizing the Yellow Peril. The stories center around the conspiracy of a faction of elite Chinese aristocrats who seek to overthrow Western Europe, with Fu Manchu as the spearhead of the plot. He uses “decadent” methods such as exotic drugs, exceptionally brutal methods, deadly insects, animals and flowers which he has bred himself, seductive women, torture and insidious manipulation to murder and achieve dominance over individuals, all to further the goal.
In the 1933 novel, The Bride of Fu Manchu, Fu Manchu claims to hold doctorates from four Western universities. In the 1959 novel, Emperor Fu Manchu, he reveals he attended Heidelberg University, the Sorbonne, and University of Edinburgh. At the time of their first encounter (1911), Dr. Petrie (one of the Englishmen who are working to stop Manchu) believed that Fu Manchu was around 70 years old. This would have placed Fu Manchu in the West studying for his first doctorate in the 1860s or 1870s.
According to Cay Van Ash, Rohmer’s biographer and former assistant who became the first author to continue the series after Rohmer’s death, “Fu Manchu” was a title of honour, which meant “the Warlike Manchu.” Van Ash speculates that Fu Manchu had been a member of the imperial family of China who backed the losing side in the Boxer Rebellion. In the earliest books, Fu Manchu is an agent of the secret society, the Si-Fan, and acts as the mastermind behind a wave of assassinations targeting Western imperialists. In later books, he vies for control of the Si-Fan, which is more concerned with routing fascist dictators and halting the spread of communism. The Si-Fan is largely funded through criminal activities, particularly the drug trade and human trafficking (“white slavery”). Dr. Fu Manchu has extended his already considerable lifespan by use of the elixir of life, a formula he spent decades trying to perfect.
He is, of course, opposed and thwarted by stalwart, upright and moral Englishman, particularly Denis Wayland Smith and Dr. Petrie in the early novels.
Critical and Audience Response to Charlie Chan
Readers and movie-goers greeted Chan warmly in the 1930s. Even audiences in Shanghai found the character positive and funny, but twenty-first century critics have taken contending views. Some see Chan as an attractive character who is portrayed as intelligent, heroic, benevolent and honorable in contrast to the racist depictions of evil or conniving Asians which dominated Hollywood and national media. Others find that Chan, despite his good qualities, reinforces condescending stereotypes such as an alleged incapacity to speak idiomatic English and a tradition-bound and subservient nature. Many found it objectionable that he was played on screen by Caucasian actors in so-called Yellowface.
Critic John Soister argues that Charlie Chan is both a positive role model and an offensive stereotype; when Biggers created the character, he offered a unique alternative to stereotypical evil Chinamen, a man who was at the same time “sufficiently accommodating in personality… unthreatening in demeanor… and removed from his Asian homeland… to quell any underlying xenophobia.”
Critic Michael Brodhead argues that “Biggers’s sympathetic treatment of the Charlie Chan novels convinces the reader that the author consciously and forthrightly spoke out for the Chinese–a people to be not only accepted but admired. Biggers’s sympathetic treatment of the Chinese reflected and contributed to the greater acceptance of Chinese-Americans in the first third of [the twentieth] century.” S. T. Karnick writes in the National Review that Chan is “a brilliant detective with understandably limited facility in the English language, [whose] powers of observation, logic, and personal rectitude and humility made him an exemplary, entirely honorable character.” Ellery Queen called Biggers’s characterization of Charlie Chan “a service to humanity and to inter-racial relations.” Dave Kehr of The New York Times said Chan “might have been a stereotype, but he was a stereotype on the side of the angels.” Key Luke agreed; when asked if he thought that the character was demeaning to the race, he responded, “Demeaning to the race? My God! You’ve got a Chinese hero!” and “[W]e were making the best damn murder mysteries in Hollywood.”
Other critics, such as Yen Le Espiritu and Huang Guiyou, argue that Chan, while portrayed positively in some ways, is not on a par with white characters, but a “benevolent Other” who is “one-dimensional.” The films’ use of white actors to portray East Asian characters indicates the character’s “absolute Oriental Otherness;” the films were only successful as “the domain of white actors who impersonated heavily-accented masters of murder mysteries as well as purveyors of cryptic proverbs. Chan’s character “embodies the stereotypes of Chinese Americans, particularly of males: smart, subservient, effeminate.” Chan is representative of a model minority, the good stereotype that counters a bad stereotype: “Each stereotypical image is filled with contradictions: the bloodthirsty Indian is tempered with the image of the noble savage; the bandido exists along with the loyal sidekick; and Fu Manchu is offset by Charlie Chan.” However, Fu Manchu’s evil qualities are presented as inherently Chinese, while Charlie Chan’s good qualities are exceptional; “Fu represents his race; his counterpart stands away from the other Asian Hawaiians.”
Some argue that the character’s popularity is dependent on its contrast with stereotypes of the Yellow Peril or Japanese people in particular. American opinion of China and Chinese-Americans grew more positive in the 1920s and 30s in contrast to the Japanese, who were increasingly viewed with suspicion. Sheng-mei Ma argues that the character is a psychological over-compensation to “rampant paranoia over the racial Other.”
In June 2003, the Fox Movie Channel cancelled a planned Charlie Chan Festival, after a special-interest group protested. Fox reversed its decision two months later, and on September 13, 2003, the first film in the festival was aired on Fox. The films, when broadcast on the Fox Movie Channel, were followed by round-table discussions by prominent East Asians in the American entertainment industry, led by George Takei, most of whom were against the films. Collections such as Frank Chin’s Aiiieeee! An Anthology of Asian-American Writers and Jessica Hagedorn’s Charlie Chan is Dead are put forth as alternatives to the Charlie Chan stereotype and “[articulate] cultural anger and exclusion as their animating force.”
Some modern critics, particularly East Asian-Americans, dismiss the Charlie Chan character as “bovine” and “asexual”, allowing “white America … [to be] securely indifferent about us as men.” Charlie Chan’s good qualities are the product of what Frank Chin and Jeffery Chan call “racist love”, arguing that Chan is a model minority and “kiss-ass”. Fletcher Chan, however, argues that the Chan of Biggers’s novels is not subservient to white characters, citing The Chinese Parrot as an example; in this novel, Chan’s eyes blaze with anger at racist remarks and in the end, after exposing the murderer, Chan remarks “Perhaps listening to a ‘Chinaman’ is no disgrace.” Two films, Charlie Chan in London (1934) and Charlie Chan in Paris (1935), “contain scenes in which Chan coolly and wittily dispatches other characters’ racist remarks.” Yunte Huang manifests an ambivalent attitude, stating that in the USA, Chan “epitomizes the racist heritage and the creative genius of this nation’s culture.” Huang also suggests that critics of Charlie Chan may have themselves, at times, “caricatured” Chan himself.
Chan’s character has also come under fire for “nuggets of fortune cookie Confucius” and the “counterfeit proverbs” which became so widespread in popular culture. The books did not introduce the “Confucius say” proverbs, which were added in the films, but they do have Chan remark “As all those who know me have learned to their distress, Chinese have proverbs to fit every possible situation.” Huang Yunte gives as examples “Tongue often hang man quicker than rope,” “Mind, like parachute, only function when open,” and “Man who flirt with dynamite sometime fly with angels.” He argues, however, that these “colorful aphorisms” display “amazing linguistic acrobatic skills.” Like the African American “signifying monkey,” Huang continues, Chan “imparts as much insult as wisdom.”
Mantan Moreland and Birmingham Brown
Mantan Moreland (September 3, 1902 – September 28, 1973) was an American actor, entertainer and comedian popular in the 1930s and 1940s. Moreland parlayed his cocky but jittery character into a recognizable film presence, appearing in a long string of comedy thrillers and more than 300 films in all.
Mantan initially appeared in films in servile bit-parts (shoeshine men, porters, waiters). However, his talent for making people laugh couldn’t be overlooked and he soon earned featured status in Harlem-styled western parodies and grade “A” comedy films playing the superstitious, ever-terrified manservant running from any kind of real or (usually) imagined impending doom. Moreland’s film debut was in That’s the Spirit (1936), although he did not have a credited role. Boxer Joe Louis helped him land his part in Spirit of Youth (1938), featuring Louis himself.
Moreland’s characters were nervous and jumpy, and ready to leap out of their skin at the slightest noise. He could pop his bulging eyes and had a way of making his entire body quake with teeth-chattering tremors. Moreland’s defining role was that of Birmingham Brown, the loyal chauffeur to master detective Charlie Chan in fifteen films made by Monogram Studios in the 1940s.
In 1959, he told a Cleveland newspaper that he would “never play another stereotype, regardless of what Hollywood offers.” He added, “The Negro, as a race, has come too far in the last few years for me to dash his hopes, dreams, and accomplishments against a celluloid wall, by making pictures that show him to be a slow-thinking, stupid dolt…Millions of people may have thought that my acting was comical, but I know now that it wasn’t always so funny to my own people.” Mantan Moreland died in Los Angeles on September 28, 1973.