Casablanca: Great Acting, Lousy Ending

'Enneagram Famous Figures' by Subhuti Healing & Meditation

A Number Eight romantically linked with a Number Nine? Subhuti continues his series ‘Enneagram Famous Figures’ to help us grasp the types.


Play it, Sam….
Here’s looking at you, kid….
Round up the usual suspects….

Famous lines from the movie Casablanca have become part of our culture. It wasn’t just a good story with a slick screenplay. The acting was terrific. When Humphrey Bogart teamed up with Ingrid Bergman in this passionate tale of doomed romance, set amid the chaos and drama of World War II, Warner Brothers was assured of a major box office success. Yet, even Warner Brothers had no idea that Casablanca would become such a classic that a film made way back in 1942 would continue to be admired by moviegoers for the next 70-80 years.

The ending, in particular, has been exalted as the ultimate in romantic chivalry. But personally, I have my doubts and I’d like to take a look at Casablanca through the window of the Enneagram to see what is really going on.

For those unfamiliar with the movie’s plot, here is a brief synopsis:

Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), owns a nightclub in Casablanca, during World War II. Rick discovers that his old flame Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) is in town with her husband, Victor Laszlo, a Czech resistance fighter. With the Germans on his tail, Laszlo needs to get out of Morocco to the USA, which is still neutral.

Rick is bitter and refuses help, because Ilsa had abandoned him without a word in Paris. Now she explains to him that her husband, whom she had believed was killed by the Germans, had suddenly reappeared and desperately needed her help.

Relenting, Rick obtains visas that allow the couple to leave the country and even though he and Ilsa realize they are still in love with each other, he forces Ilsa to get on the plane with her husband. Ilsa is reluctant. Her heart is with Rick. But Rick insists, saying: “You’re getting on that plane! Inside of us, we both know you belong with Victor. You’re part of his work, the thing that keeps him going. If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not with him, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.” So Ilsa gets on the plane and flies off to America with her husband.

Rick’s Enneagram type? Well, I’m not about to hand out prizes to anyone who guesses correctly. Like so many male Hollywood heroes, Rick is a Number Eight, popularly known as The Boss. He is tough, hard-bitten and, of course, like most Eights, he has his own territory – a nightclub in Casablanca, which is called, appropriately enough, ‘Rick’s’. His soft heart is carefully hidden from view and only comes out at night, when all his customers have left and the pianist, the legendary Sam, is the solitary witness to his heartbreak.

Ilsa, on the other hand, is a Number Nine – at least, that’s my guess. When she thinks her husband is dead, she allows herself to be swept into a passionate romance with Rick. Then, when her husband re-emerges, she allows herself to be pulled back into his sphere. Encountering Rick again in Casablanca, she feels pulled towards him once more. She is confused, hesitant, not knowing what she really wants. Ilsa is a typical female Nine who seems easily dominated by a powerful male energy.

In real life, I have met couples who share this type of dynamic: the male Eight and the female Nine. It seems to work pretty well. Eights have a need to be strong and decisive, while Nines like others to take the lead because it saves them the difficult task of deciding what they really want.

Of course, it’s not all plain sailing. If the male Eight in the relationship gets too overbearing, the female Nine is likely to retreat into passive-aggressive behaviour, appearing to go along with the Eight’s demands, but not actually doing anything. This, in turn, can drive the Eight crazy!

But we don’t see any of this in Casablanca because the relationship doesn’t have time to develop. In a way, it all makes sense when Rick-the-Eight takes charge in the final scene and tells Ilsa to get on the plane, which, as an obedient female Nine, she does. It makes a wonderful ending, movie-wise, but there’s a lot wrong with it if you look under the surface.

For one thing, Ilsa’s husband, Victor Laszlow, never shows much affection for his wife. Played rather stiffly by Austrian actor Paul Henreid, his mind seems to be focused completely on his fight with the Germans, not on Ilsa. (By the way, on the movie set, Bogart and Henreid didn’t get along. Henreid considered Bogart to be “a mediocre actor”, while Bogart dismissed Henreid as a “prima donna”.) It’s not easy to nail an Enneagram type on the part of Victor Laszlow, the Czech resistance fighter, which Henreid plays. I’ll hazard a guess and say that, for me, Laszlow comes across pretty much as a Number One, convinced he is morally correct in opposing the Nazis and determined to ‘do the right thing’.

Another objection to the storyline: Rick’s argument in persuading Ilsa to get on the plane is flawed. Not for one moment, does it seem plausible that Laszlow really needs his wife in order to continue his struggle against the Nazis. If she’d died of a heart attack, right on the spot, in Rick’s nightclub, Laszlow might have been a little shocked and shed a couple of tears, but then he’d continue his fight with the Germans. No question about that.

So, as the movie reaches its climax, with the main characters convening at the airport, and with the Germans in hot pursuit, this was the moment for Ilsa-the-Nine to find her true voice and say, “I respect Victor, my husband, but I don’t love him. Rick, I love you, I’m not going – and that’s my final word.”

Or, if this nakedly honest expression of her feelings was too direct for a timid Nine, then she could have resorted to this type’s usual passive-aggressive strategy. She could have agreed to Rick’s command to get on the plane with her husband, but then secretly hidden herself in the airport buildings. Then, after the plane had taken off, with Laszlow aboard, she could have walked back into the airplane hangar, murmured “Hi Rick,” and kissed him.

Even a Number Eight would have a hard time arguing with that! So for me, the movie’s central ethic of sacrificing love for a noble cause doesn’t really hold together. It’s a great movie, that’s for sure, but its message is phony.

Here’s a thought: maybe Rick was secretly looking forward to Ilsa getting on the plane, fearing that if he allowed himself to be drawn into an intimate relationship with her, he would have to let down his Eight defences, open his vulnerable heart, and risk getting hurt, like he did last time. Maybe this was simply too scary for Rick to contemplate. From a ‘tough’ male point of view, this certainly makes a lot of sense! The myth of the lonesome cowboy, riding freely across the range, only holds up as long as he doesn’t find a woman and settles down.

My favourite character in the movie is the French police captain, Louis Renault, played by English actor Claude Rains. Louis is in charge of law and order in Casablanca and also involved in a number of shady deals, such as trading visas for sexual favours. Perhaps I’m identifying with Louis, because, like me, he seems to be a Number Seven with a Six Wing: putting his own interests first, keeping his options open – we never know which side he’s going to choose – and being suspicious about almost everybody.

In the end, as we know, Captain Louis turns out to be a good guy. After Rick shoots the German Major who has been pursuing Laszlow, Louis should have arrested Rick and charged him with murder. Instead, he utters the classic line “Round up the usual suspects” and he and Rick walk off arm in arm to join the Free French Army.

The last line of the movie is also a classic, as Rick says, “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” Yes, a brotherly, man-to-man bonding is a lot less threatening to the male ego than the genuine intimacy offered by a loving woman.

A few more lines delivered by Humphrey Bogart emphasize his Eightness:

When Rick comes face-to-face with the movie’s ‘bad guy’, Major Heinrich Strasser, who is also an Eight, their brief dialogue goes like this:

Major: “What nationality are you?”

Rick: “I’m a drunkard.”

Rick’s retort contains just the right amount of dismissive “fuck you” sarcasm, laced with self-mockery.

(Ironically, Major Strasser was played by a refugee German actor, Conrad Veidt, who had fled from the Nazis and successfully sought employment in Hollywood, but was frequently cast as a Nazi because of his stern looks and German accent. In fact, many of the bit-part actors in Casablanca were wartime refugees of one kind or another, which made the film an emotional experience for them, and certainly added to the sense of realism.)

In another conversation, Rick’s sarcasm again comes to the fore:

Questioner: “What in heaven’s name brought you to Casablanca?”

Rick: “My health, I came to Casablanca for the waters.”

Questioner: “The waters? What waters? We’re in the desert.”

Rick: “I was misinformed.”

In a humorous and dismissive way, Rick is saying, “Don’t poke your nose into my affairs. It’s none of your business.”

The beauty of Hollywood is that it doesn’t have to deal with reality. Its characters know all the right things to say, at all the right moments, so Humphrey Bogart’s portrayal of a Number Eight never falters – the script doesn’t allow it.

In real life, Bogart was apparently a much softer human being, deeply in love with actress Lauren Bacall. He had guts, though, and was one of the actors who flew to Washington DC in 1947 to protest against the anti-communist witch hunt that was being conducted in Hollywood by the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Brave of him? Sure, but if you believe the insiders, it was Lauren Bacall who pushed Bogart into making the protest and went with him to fight for people’s First Amendment rights. In other words, she was a totally different kind of woman than Ilsa, with a lot more backbone and a keen sense of justice.

SubhutiSubhuti is a regular contributor
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Subhuti gives workshops about the Enneagram all over the world and also gives individual online Enneagram sessions. Contact: anandsubhuti (at)

Related articles on the Enneagram by Subhuti
All articles in this series of Enneagram Famous Figures
The Enneagram – a journey with the Enneagram from Oscar Ichazo’s original school to Osho’s Multiversity
The Enneagram: Types – Enneagram type descriptions, childhood environments, problem areas and sentences which characterize each type

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