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November 7, 2012

Slate: Did Rick and Ilsa sneak one in in Casablanca?

(Continued)

"I'm sure I don't know," replied Ilsa. Her mind flashed back to the last time she had seen Rick alone, in his apartment above the café last night. She had been ready to sleep with him or shoot him, whatever it took to get the letters of transit that were her husband's passport to freedom. She had not shot him.

A bit more suggestive than a lighthouse, but not quite a smoking gun, either.

The last place we could turn was the production history of the film. Casablanca was produced during the time of the Hays Code, which censored, among other things, depictions of what it viewed as immoral sex. These censors objected to several different aspects of the film, including the idea that Capt. Renault solicited sexual favors from the women to whom he gave visas. When it came to what transpired between Rick and Ilsa in his apartment, the censor, Joseph Ignatius Breen, was clear about what he saw in the script: He detected the implication of a "sex affair" that "would be unacceptable if it comes through in the finished picture." To remedy this affront, he offered detailed instructions:

We believe this could possibly be corrected by replacing the fade on page 135 with a dissolve, and shooting the succeeding scene without any sign of a bed or couch, or anything whatever suggestive of a sex affair.

The final cut of the film, then, is clean of this suggestion — at least as far as the censors could tell. Were the filmmakers able to slip something past them, perhaps in the form of that lighthouse, to tell us what really went down in Morocco?

At least there's one thing that we can be sure of: They'll always have the sex they had in Paris.

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