May 15, 2016

"Madeleine Lebeau, Last Living Cast Member of Casablanca, Dies at 92."



"Though she had several small roles in other American films, as well as Fellini’s 8 ½, she’s best remembered for her emotional proclamation of 'Viva la France!' at the end of the ensemble performance of 'La Marseillaise' in Casablanca. Lebeau.., was, like many of her co-performers, a real-life refugee forced to flee from the Nazis...."

46 comments:

Saint Croix said...

That scene always gives me chills. Love it.

Quaestor said...

She was the hottie IMAO. When Rick dumped Elsa he knew what he was doin'.

Quaestor said...

And French to boot. Them Scandinavian ice princesses aren't all they're cracked up to be.

Quaestor said...

Ooh la-la.

readering said...

Only Yalies were rooting for the Germans

Quaestor said...

The best break up spiel evah:

I’m saying this because it’s true. Inside of us, we both know you belong with Victor. (Translation: You won't miss me that much.) You’re part of his work, the thing that keeps him going. (Translation: You're one of those honeydew bitches, ain't ya? If I don't cut loose now you'll have me planting petunias in a week.) If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not with him, you’ll regret it. (Translation: Please get on the plane. Yvonne's motor is running.) Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life. (Translation: While mentally undressing Yvonne I've lapsed into total cliché. Please leave while I can still suppress the woody.)

buwaya puti said...

The Marseillaise best recent performance was that by Mireille Mathieu. Easily found on YouTube. She gives it the bit of a peasant, aggro edge, it's a bloodthirsty piece after all.
Do not be fooled by an Edith Piaf version, because it isn't Piaf. Piaf could have done an excellent Marseillaise just as she did a fine Ca Ira, but I don't think there is a published recording.
The Casablanca version is, as fits in the movies context, a rather sentimental rendering.

Warren Fahy said...

You asked if we found something today, and this I found most poignant. Casablanca is on the short list of perfect films for me, and this moment never fails to move me, crystalizing the passions unleashed as human depravity and compassion clash, as the decadence of totalitarianism and the optimism of liberty come into conflict that can no longer be postponed, as the necessity to stand against brigands and bullies finally catches fire among those who hate aggression against their fellow human beings. But on another level it reveals the endurance of art that with the advent of movies renders the all-too mortal state of us eternal. All of the people in Casablanca are gone. And yet, they are alive for the rest of us eternally. I have noticed that mortality is a recurrent theme here. In movies, we have created a simulacrum of an afterlife that refuses and defies that transience, expanding the cast of human beings still participating in the world. Thanks for posting, Ann.

YoungHegelian said...

Therefore, I affirm - face-to-face with death, as it were - that I was born a Jew, and that I have never entertained any thoughts of either denying it or of being tempted to do so. In a world afflicted with the most atrocious barbarity, is not the generous tradition of the Hebrew prophets, which Christianity - in its purest form - has adopted in order to expand upon, one of our best reasons to live, to believe and to struggle? As a stranger to any denominational formalities or so-called racial solidarity, I have felt throughout my life first and foremost simply French. Attached to my homeland by a long family tradition, nurtured on its spiritual heritage and its history and, in truth, incapable of conceiving of breathing at ease elsewhere, I have loved it and served it with all my strength. I have never sensed that my being Jewish hindered these feelings of mine in any way. It has not been my fate to die for France during either of the two wars. At least, I can in all sincerity offer this testimony in return: I am dying, as I lived, an honorable Frenchman.

The Testament of [the Medieval historian & Resistance member] Marc Bloch

buwaya puti said...

Marc Bloch is best known I think for his analysis of the fall of France in 1940 "Strange Defeat". Essential reading for anyone interested in how a nation can defeat itself. Rather timely.

buwaya puti said...

Also interesting to think, that the actual people in that cafe (well, those whom the actors were representing in the fictional cafe), the colonial population, would, within 20 years be back in France, the pieds noirs. Maybe half of these people would not have been of French origin at all, but Spaniards and North African Jews, both populations being culturally French by that time. It was an interesting little world there.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

...she’s best remembered for her emotional proclamation of “Viva la France!”...

The writer is obviously no Francophone.

Ann Althouse said...

@tyrone Good catch.

Kathryn51 said...

Warren Fahy - thank you for a writing a post that captures my almost identical reaction to this scene. I am glad that I also "found" something today.

traditionalguy said...

The French National Anthem is a song of the French Revolution, by the French Revolution and for the French Revolution. It also works for Trump's Revolution. The theme is Liberty of the middleclass.

coupe said...

La Marseillaise is “bloodthirsty, racist and xenophobic” - Lambert Wilson

Sort of like taking a dump in the girls bathroom...

coupe said...

buwaya puti said...The Marseillaise best recent performance was that by Mireille Mathieu.

Well, if you mean the 1960's was recent :-)

Phil 3:14 said...

"The French National Anthem is a song of the French Revolution, by the French Revolution and for the French Revolution. It also works for Trump's Revolution. The theme is Liberty of the middleclass."

Please tell me their are no guillotines involved (in the 21st century version I mean.)

mockturtle said...

My parents went to see Casablanca on their very first date. Maybe that's why they fell in love and enjoyed such a long and successful marriage.

traditionalguy said...

Political correctness be damned what she is saying when she shouts vive la France. Fortunately, she was in Vichy France and the Germans were overconfident that early on.

Phil 3:14 said...

Its amazing how well the two songs sounded together.

buwaya puti said...

That one is from the '80s I think.

Yes, it's quite a Trumpist song isn't it?
It will work even better, maybe, if the Trumpist moment doesn't work.

Aux armes citoyens,
Formez vos bataillons,

Well, the armes certainly are available.

Anyway, we will most of us be too old for that day. As the old formula went -

"Old men will get themselves carried to public places to arouse the courage of warriors and preach hatred of Kings..."

buwaya puti said...

Wacht am Rhein isnt a Nazi piece at all; it's a bit of 19th century German patriotic romanticism that was a reaction to the ancient habit the French had of grabbing bits of Germany.
It was written pre-German unification and meant to promote that. Fair enough probably.

One can say that the Germans went a bit past the target; Bismarck certainly thought so, eventually.

traditionalguy said...

Aux armes citoyens. Formez vos bataillions. Le jour de gloire est arrive.

These are the famous words sung by Jean DeMiller about Demonstrators who try to interrupt a French speaking Trump Rally.

Phil 3:14 said...

Inspiring music can be dangerous in unexpected ways

buwaya puti said...

Even in Louisiana, is it at all likely there could be a French speaking Trump rally? It would be cool if there were.
Maybe when Trump brings in Quebec as the 57th state.

Phil 3:14 said...

An alternative version

Phil 3:14 said...

As a kid watching the Olympics I always loved this anthem though I had no idea what they were saying.

(And of course I wasn't supposed to like it.)

William said...

As a glorious, patriotic anthem, it can't be topped. It's super cool this girl was French and a refugee. Casablanca was a great movie, and it pulled all the strings you wanted pulled. The willing manipulation of feelings........It's a sorrow and a pity that France was net/net a sort of ally of Germany during WWII.

buwaya puti said...

Interesting isn't it?
In the 19th century music was weaponized.
That's about when nationalism and ideologies started acquiring theme songs.
National anthems didn't really exist until then.
Interesting footnote, "God Save The King" is the same tune as the German Imperial Kaiser Hymne.

buwaya puti said...

The Soviet one is very operatic, and is just the thing for the Red Army chorus, but I think rather more difficult to do on a casual basis to an adequate quality.
It is possible though that it works for Russians, if they can all sing and if any random selection of them can be counted on to self-organize into a decent chorus. I wouldn't put it past them.

coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anglelyne said...

buwaya: Marc Bloch is best known I think for his analysis of the fall of France in 1940 "Strange Defeat". Essential reading for anyone interested in how a nation can defeat itself. Rather timely.

Thanks for the rec. I see the Kindle version can be snapped up for a frugal $2.99.

Anglelyne said...

Phil 3:14: Please tell me their are no guillotines involved (in the 21st century version I mean.)

That's entirely up to the PTBs, ain't it? Ball's in their court.

Roughcoat said...

Marc Bloch is best known I think for his analysis of the fall of France in 1940 "Strange Defeat". Essential reading for anyone interested in how a nation can defeat itself. Rather timely.

I have great admiration and respect for the Marc Bloch, and for the French and France. "Strange Defeat" is a compelling, beautifully written cri de couer from a man who loved his country. But Bloch is wrong in his assessment of what caused the French defeat in May 1940. Passionate, brilliantly articulate, understandably appalled--but wrong. France didn't defeat itself and the defeat of France was not attributable to a lack of will of a faulty national character or a lack of preparation.

Roughcoat said...

all the French ran back home.

That's a canard that reveals a rather egregious lack of knowledge about the events of May-June 1940.

campy said...

"Interesting footnote, "God Save The King" is the same tune as the German Imperial Kaiser Hymne."

Appropriate, since the king & kaiser were cousins.

buwaya puti said...

I don't know - Bloch has gone in and out of favor in the endless controversies over 1940. Some interesting stuff newly in English, analyzing the tactical details of the Sedan operation indicate the gross failures of leadership and morale that tend to support Bloch.
Try "Breaking Point", Doughty, on the Sedan operation. The details of how something happened at the point of failure.

Roughcoat said...

buwaya -

I stand by what I said re "Strange Victory" being a fundamentally flawed analysis. Bloch wrote the book shortly after the events he described had occurred (and before, of course, he was tortured and executed by the Gestapo). He wrote in sorrow and passion and anger, still in great pain from the emotional and psychic wounds of the defeat, and with no facts at hand concerning the tactical and operational unfolding of the May-June 1940 battles. It cannot, therefore, be considered a work of military analysis nor is it in any way reliable as an historical document. I know Robert Doughty and I was the editor of one of his works on the French military. He's a fine scholar and the foremost English-language expert on the French military in the 20th century; and, knowing him as I do, I think he would regard as too simplistic the explanation that the French defeat was attributable to failures of leadership and morale. Such failures did occur, to be sure, however they were not the cause of defeat but rather the result/outcome of defeat, especially the debacle at Sedan. Anyone who thinks that poor leadership and defeatism are the main reason for the French defeat is getting the equation for defeat precisely backward, and doesn't understand the dynamics behind French and German warfighting doctrines and methodologies that obtained in 1940.

Roughcoat said...

The main takeaway from Marc Bloch's book should be: Don't let your country be conquered and occupied by a cruel totalitarian enemy.

I am not being facetious. This is a lesson and well worth learning, and re-learning, and Marc Bloch is as excellent and articulate teacher of this lesson as one is ever likely to find.

buwaya puti said...

Say hello and thanks to Mr. Doughty!
I very much admire his work, and I envy your role in it!
As for problems with leadership and morale, in the case of Sedan, it seems clear that there was a major problem with courage and leadership, on the day of the assault. The French artillery was overwhelming on the spot, and the Germans were worried that their high risk operation could have been crushed on the day - and on the subsequent days. But the French artillery was suppressed by the morale effect of air attack, when it shouldn't have been, and was even permitted to rout in panic and confusion in the evening having suffered only minor loss. That one shameful performance by the entire artillery of an army Corps probably decided the campaign. Of course there were many decision points in the course of events, but that one was massive. And it's not the only such failure by any means.

buwaya puti said...

As for Bloch, he was on the spot and a witness to the "soft" factors of morale, leadership, organization and coordination - he was after all in charge of a major bit of logistics for the French Army's most important mobile unit. He was an important witness, on the spot, with relevant information, combat experience and analytical skills.
It's hard to deal with soft factors (in an analytical history) in this sort of thing, but in this case these were critical.

Roughcoat said...

buwaya -

This is a fascinating and exceedingly complex subject but I think that, in the interests of other readers, we ought to suspend our discussion of it until Althouse sees fit to write a post on the Battle for France in 1940. I don't want to hijack this thread. That said, I will make two points:

1. I disagree with this statement: "That one shameful performance by the entire artillery of an army Corps probably decided the campaign."

2. It is worth noting that even as German formations were breaking through at Sedan on the Meuse starting on 13 May, French armored forces engaged and convincingly defeated the German panzers in Belgium in the battles of Hannut (12-14 May) and the Gembleaux Gap (14-15 May). Taken in combination, these two clashes constituted the single largest tank battle in history up til then, with a combined total of over 2,000 tanks, AFVs, and support vehicles involved. It was a straight-up tank battle and the French scored a clear-cut tactical victory over the Wehrmacht's vaunted Panzerwaffe. The reasons for this victory are worth investigating not only because they provide a "what-might-have-been" perspective to the battle for France, but also because they point the way to a better understanding of the real causes of the French defeat. In any case, there was no failure of leadership nor morale on the part of the French in the Hannut/Gembleaux Gap battle, and no lack of courage, skill, and determination on the part of the French soldiers who fought the panzers to a standstill. And,it bears repeating, this battle was taking place even as the Sedan debacle was unfolding.

Roughcoat said...

Full disclosure: I am currently researching and writing a lengthy piece about the Hannut/Gembleaux Gap battles.

buwaya puti said...

I eagerly anticipate your piece on Hannut/Gembleaux!
There is very little worthwhile on this in publication as far as I know, you would be filling in a major blank spot.
Which book of Doughty's did you work on?

Roughcoat said...

Okay, one more point: in the May-June 1940 campaign the Germans also had tremendous problems with leadership, organization, and coordination. HUGE problems. The reason that these problems did not prove fatal for them even as they proved fatal for the French is, as told, a very complex subject; one beyond the scope of this thread, I should think. Suffice to say that German problems in this regard (and not Hitler's blunders and indecision concerning his orders for an operational pause by the Panzerwaffe in northern France)are in large measure the reason the BEF plus large French army formations were able to escape the trap at Dunkirk.

I worked on a long essay Doughty contributed to a multi-author volume that I edited (and to which I also contributed a few articles). In the course of editing his essay we corresponded and spoke about the subject of the French military. It was an enjoyable and educational experience. I prefer not to go into specifics concerning the essay or the book because I don't wish to compromise my anonymity. I trust you understand.