Where to begin?
As I am downloading this rifftrax I decided to come into the forum (something I rarely do as my internet is somewhat limited here in Iraq) and see what people thought.
This movie has always been, to me, the greatest movie of all time. The first time I saw it I wept and, as a soldier and grown man, I'm not ashamed to admit that.
I am kind of dreading what they have done with it
Why is it so great?
The acting is perfect, the storyline is great and a prototype for almost all war/love movies to come, and Bogart pretty much creates the archetype of anti-hero in this movie.
This movie, when it was made, was not expected to be anything special. It was shot in a few weeks and quickly rushed out - as was the style at the time. The movie was based on the play "Everybody Comes to Ricks" which was a semi-factual account of the playwright's escape to America during the start of the German occupation of France in 1940.
As to the question of why didn't Strausser simply arrest Victor or have him killed it has to do with the politics, as well as the west's limited knowledge of internal Nazi workings, at the time the play/movie was written. While Vichy France was just a puppet government set up by Germany - Germany still had to maintain a facsimile of autonomy for the rest of the world. For that reason they tried their best to make it at least appear as if Vichy France was running itself with only limited help from Germany.
Combine this with the fact that it still was not fully or widely known the extent of Nazi brutalism and totalitarianism in the non-occupied nations, it seems quite justified (at the time) that the Nazi's would work with but not through or around the local authorities in Vichy.
Now, what makes the movie the greatest in my mind?
The fact that the protagonist changes from being a self-centered, egotistical man full of hate to someone who will give up his one true love for the greater good of mankind is a tearjerker. That by itself would be enough, but when you consider the cast: Peter Lorrey, Claude Rains, Humphrey Bogart, and the list goes on...each one considered one of the best actors of his/her time and one of the greatest of all time - they all put everything they had into their roles and it showed.
Well, thats my take, its almost done downloading so lets see if I cry from the humorous destruction rained down by the rifftrax crew