Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine, cynical “gin joint” manager and former arms dealer
Casablanca, Morocco, December 1941
Release Date: November 26, 1942
Director: Michael Curtiz
Although remembered today as one of the greatest romances to grace the screen, the Los Angeles Times‘s Bob Strauss was most accurate when he declared Casablanca a “near-perfect entertainment balance” of comedy, romance, and suspense. In fact, the movie has become so ingrained as a romance classic that few recall just how badass it actually is.
Take the leading man: Rick Blaine. Played by Humphrey Bogart (which already lends plenty of BAMF credibility), Rick is more cynical than any of the private eyes that Bogie ever played on screen. He owns a bar with an illegal gambling den and maintained a successful side racket of running guns to Ethiopia, in addition to packing his own pistol on most occasions.
When Ilsa, the love of his life, walks back into his bar after nearly two years, he takes to the bottle… and he does so with gusto. The bitter Rick refuses to help Ilsa’s crusading resistance leader husband, to which she responds by drawing her own gun. After sorting out conflicted feelings, old flames, and a bullet or two in the gut of a Nazi, Rick finally manages to find closure with his old love while paving the way for further shady business ventures. The end.
With just over a week left until Valentine’s Day, Rick Blaine provides a classic, dapper look sure to make your special lady swoon on this most hated of holidays. Good luck, fellas.
What’d He Wear?
For the first few decades of the dinner jacket’s existence, black or midnight blue wool was the standard. It wasn’t until the early 1930s when travelers in warm, tropical climates began to abandon darker colors in favor of the less formal “white” dinner jacket. Technically colored in shades of white like ivory or cream, these lighter dinner jackets provided a comfortable alternative for gentlemen in warm tropical heat who didn’t want to endure their vacation in heavy, dark wool.
Rick Blaine, operating his club in the heat of Morocco’s largest city, wears an ivory summer-weight worsted dinner jacket as part of his nightly attire. The classic image of Bogie, clad in his ivory dinner jacket with a glass of Bourbon in front of him and cigarette smoking from his hand while half of his scowling, embittered face is cloaked in a shadow, has become an icon.
Rick’s double-breasted dinner jacket has a wide, self-faced shawl collar that rolls to a 4-on-1 button front. The relaxed formality of the white dinner jacket dress code means a lack of silk trimmings, including lapel facings and button coverings, that would be found on a black or midnight blue dinner jacket. Thus, the four front buttons and four buttons on each sleeve cuff are white plastic sew-through buttons with no covering. The back is ventless.
Rick’s jacket also has three external pockets: two straight jetted hip pockets and a welted breast pocket with a white silk handkerchief poking out. Since his jacket is double-breasted and he always wears it closed, Rick likely wears no cummerbund or any sort of waist covering that would just be an added layer of uncomfortable warmth in the Moroccan heat.
Magnoli makes a “replica” of the jacket in either wool or a wool blend with a few different touches that differentiate it from the classic Bogart jacket, such as three functional cuff buttons instead of the four seen in the movie. Magnoli offers several options, including color, fabric, and lapel facings.
Rick’s trousers are the same dark wool formal trousers – likely black – that one would wear with any dinner jacket. They have a black satin side stripe down each leg to the plain-hemmed bottoms.
Rick wears a white dress shirt with a long-pointed turndown collar. Soft turndown collars are the preferred option for pairing with a warm-weather dinner jacket due to the shared relaxed vibe that both garments exude. The double cuffs on Rick’s shirt are fastened with white disc links, and white buttons fasten down the front placket.
A black silk thistle-shaped bowtie is neatly tied at Rick’s neck. The tie is surprisingly small compared to the size of Rick’s shirt collar and jacket lapels.
Rick’s shoes are best seen in production stills, but they appear to be black patent leather cap-toe oxfords with black dress socks.
All of Bogart’s usual accessories are present. His father’s gold ring – with two rubies and a diamond – is on the third finger of his right hand, with replicas available from Royalty and Hollywood Jewelry and Amazon.
Bogart also wears his Longines Evidenza wristwatch. The Evidenza was released in 1941, so Bogie’s – with its tonneau-shaped gilt case and dark brown leather strap – would have been relatively new at the time Casablanca was filmed.
Go Big or Go Home
While you’d be wise to avoid any sort of doomed romance like Rick and Ilsa, there’s no reason why your Casablanca-themed date shouldn’t end with you getting the girl instead of sending her off in an airplane to go help the resistance effort while you spend your time glad-handing corrupt public officials. The first thing you’ll want to do is set the mood.
Since you probably don’t have a jovial piano player at your beck and call, you’d be well-advised to get a classic version of “As Time Goes By” playing for your date. You could even take it a step further and play it on the piano yourself, but it may end up awkward for your date to stand there for three minutes while you fiddle around on the keys.
What to Imbibe
Next – libations. Rick drinks Bourbon (the fictional Kentucky Hill brand) and cognac (appears to be Cognac Vieux from Lehman ses Fils), but the film also prominently features the French 75 cocktail when Yvonne is ordering at the bar with her new boyfriend.
So what the hell is a French 75? I tried to order one once at Red Lobster and was flatly rejected. (True story. At least I filled up on Cheddar Bay Biscuits.) Although it may not look it and its non-Ron Swanson-approved ingredients may lead you to believe otherwise, the French 75 is one of the more badass cocktails because it’s named after a gun. A very big gun. A 75mm field gun, to be precise. The French Canon de 75 modèle 1897.
The French 75 was developed during World War I (yet another BAMF point in its favor!) as, essentially, a fancier version of the Tom Collins cocktail but replacing the carbonated water with champagne… which is about as fancy as replacing water can get. The legendary Harry MacElhone, a legend amongst barmen, first developed the cocktail at the New York Bar in Paris. The name came from the kick of the drink, which imbibers compared to being shelled by a 75mm field gun.
Though it was developed in 1915, the French 75 became the toast of the Roaring Twenties as a popular order at the Stork Club in New York. Harry himself first listed the drink in print as “the 75” in the 1922 edition of Harry’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails (consisting of gin, Calvados, grenadine, and abstinthe!), but it wasn’t until five years later – in Judge Jr.’s Here’s How – that the now-common recipe of gin, sugar, lemon juice, and champagne was listed. Finally, the “French 75” name appeared in The Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930, fifteen years after MacElhone first mixed it.
So how would you make yours?
Combine three parts gin, two dashes of simple syrup (or a teaspoon of superfine sugar), and 1.5 measures of lemon juice into an ice-filled cocktail tumbler. Shake it all until it’s very cold, then strain it into a chilled Collins glass or champagne flute. (In case you can’t tell, you’re gonna want this drink to be cold!) Finally, top it up with six measures of champagne. G.H. Mumm was the champagne of choice throughout Casablanca, and it’s a fine spirit for you to include in your concoctions as well.
Some folks add a lemon twist for garnish and an extra citrussy pop. Some customize theirs a step further by swapping out the gin for cognac, although this is technically called a King’s Peg in some circles.
How to Get the Look
With Rick Blaine’s iconic formalwear, Humphrey Bogart shows us why being a cynical tough guy doesn’t mean foregoing elegance.
- Ivory wool double-breasted dinner jacket with 4-on-1 button front, shawl collar, welted breast pocket, straight jetted hip pockets, 4-button cuffs, and ventless back
- Black wool formal trousers with black satin side stripe, side pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- White dress shirt with long-pointed turndown collar, front placket with white buttons, double/French cuffs
- Black silk bowtie
- White disc cufflinks
- Black patent leather cap-toe oxford shoes
- Black dress socks
- Longines Evidenza gilt-cased wristwatch on dark brown leather strap
- Gold ring with two rubies and diamond
- White silk pocket kerchief
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine…
I haven’t been able to find any information about what happened to Bogart’s dinner jacket, but the black dinner jacket worn by S.K. Sakall as Carl the waiter was auctioned by Bonham’s in November 2014, fetching $3,750.
Although filmed and released in 1942, it’s interesting to note that Casablanca is set in early December 1941 as Rick dates a check for December 2nd, a decision by the screenwriter to add plausibility to Rick’s motivation. It’s also interesting to wonder what the super-neutral American Rick would have done just days later after his own country was pulled into the war. (Supposedly, a scene was planned of Rick and Renault joining the Allies for the 1942 invasion of North Africa, but Rains’ unavailability meant this scene was wisely scrapped and the ending remained untouched.)