32

In the movie Casablanca (my all-time fave), Rick (Humphrey Bogart) remarks to Captain Renault (the Prefect of Police) during one scene: "When it comes to women, you're a true democrat." I've always been puzzled as to what in the world that means. It seems that if I had been alive and politically active during the 1940s when the film was made, I would have understood it.

Here's the full exchange:

Renault: Hello, Rick.

Rick: Hello, Louis.

Renault: How extravagant you are, throwing away women like that. Someday they may be scarce. I think now I shall pay a call on Yvonne. Maybe get her on the rebound.

Rick: When it comes to women, you're a true democrat.

Any ideas?

  • 2
    democrat or Democrat? – HorusKol Feb 15 '17 at 0:05
  • 1
    Yeah, I think it's just a play on the idea of social equality. The gist is that Louis loves the company of all women equally. – Strawberry Feb 15 '17 at 10:24
  • I got here because the SE algorithm linked this Rick to Rick and Morty Rick. – Azor Ahai Jan 16 '18 at 6:05
57

I don't think it is about being "liberal" so much as having "democratic" beliefs. To say someone is democratic means they believe in equal representation. By calling Renault a "true democrat", Rick is saying that Renault is indiscriminate with his choice of women. All women are equal in his eyes, not politically but sexually. Renault doesn't have a type, he'll pursue any girl. When one jilts him, he moves on smoothly to another. It suggests his pursuit of all women is akin to a political ideology, which really means Renault doesn't have an ideology at all: he's just an opportunistic hedonist.

But I think that there's a little more going on. Rick is an American and is probably attached to democracy as an ideal. Meanwhile, decidedly undemocratic ideologies like Nazism and Fascism are warring with democratic nations to determine which philosophy will win out. By calling Renault a "true democrat" while living in the colony of an occupied "democratic" country, Rick may also be making a wry statement about what little power dissidents have.

9

This has absolutely nothing to do with the American political party of that name. Here, democrat (and not Democrat) is used in its regular meaning (either 1, or more likely, 2 of the definitions below):

  1. an advocate of democracy.
  2. a person who believes in the political or social equality of all people.
  3. (initial capital letter) Politics. a member of the Democratic Party. a member of the Democratic-Republican Party.
  4. Also called democrat wagon. a high, lightweight, horse-drawn wagon, usually having two seats.

The movie Casablanca is set in 1941, in the Moroccan city of Casablanca. At the time, Casablanca was "under the dual control of Nazi Germany and the Nazi-puppet government in Vichy, France, that the Germans had installed after occupying France in 1940". The Prefect of Police, therefore, was the Prefect of Police of a fascist state, the very antithesis of a democracy. He was a member of the executive branch of a fascist government.

Therefore, the line you are asking about is making a point about precisely that. Although, despite his personal political positions, Captain Renault is the arm of the Fascist government, when it comes to women, he is a true democrat: a person who believes in the political or social equality of all people. Or, more likely, one who believes in the "right" of any and all women to end up in his bed.

3

Rick is an American expatriate. A Democrat (at least in America) is a member of the Democratic party, which is the liberal party in US politics.

Another definition for the word liberal is "not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or traditional forms."

So, by calling him a "true Democrat" in regards to women, he's suggesting that Renault is a womanizer; someone who is "not bound by traditional forms." ie: he sleeps around a lot. This is prompted by Renault's earlier statement about paying a visit to Yvonne on the basis that "someday they [women] might be scarce." (To say the least, a flimsy excuse if ever there was one.)

  • 17
    I'm not sure that I buy this answer; I always thought that line meant simply that, just as democracies allow anyone to vote regardless of their knowledge of the issues, Renault sees all women as targets regardless of their individual differences. I never thought of it as a commentary on American partisan politics. – Eric Lippert Feb 14 '17 at 17:35
  • 6
    I thought in the 40s the Democrats were considered the more conservative party, and the Republicans the more Liberal party? – Dan Staley Feb 14 '17 at 18:28
  • 5
    This answer is wrong. He's using "democrat" with a lower case d to mean "one with the people," or that he takes all women. It has nothing to do with the political parties in the United States at the time. – Michael Stern Feb 14 '17 at 19:04
  • 2
    I thought it meant he doesn't discriminate based on class--i.e. he'll sleep with rich and poor women. – MissMonicaE Feb 14 '17 at 19:56
  • 3
    This has nothing to do with Democrats, he was called a democrat not a Democrat. I don't see why this would have anything whatsoever to do with the political party of the same name. – terdon Feb 14 '17 at 20:47

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .