“As Time Goes By” — Dooley Wilson
One of the most famous songs of all time, from one of the most famous movies of all time, was not…as many people think…written specially for “Casablanca”.
It was written a decade before by Herman Hupfeld for the modestly successful 1931 Broadway show “Everybody’s Welcome”.
On the back of the musical’s success, “As Time Goes By” made it into the repertoire of a few artists during the 1930s. But it wasn’t until it featured in the 1942 film “Casablanca” that it became a global phenomenon.
If you’re one of the very few people in the world who hasn’t seen this iconic movie, it turns out that “As Time Goes By” was a favourite song of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman’s characters back in Paris before the war.
When they meet again, somewhat unexpectedly, in Casablanca, war is raging in Europe. This little Vichy-controlled part of North Africa has been left largely to its own devices and “As Time Goes By” both reminds them of happier times together before the war, and also sets the scene for their eventual split once more when Ingrid Bergman’s character leaves Casablanca for safety.
The closing scene of “Casablanca” is one of the most moving scenes in movie history when Humphrey Bogart tells Ingrid Bergman to go without him to safety rather than trying to recapture what they had together in Paris. (It might just be me, but I’m pretty sure plenty of other people find that scene very emotional too.)
But, great film though “Casablanca” is, this article is about the song made famous by the film, not the film itself.
In the movie, “As Time Goes By” is sung by Dooley Wilson who plays the pianist in the bar run by Humphrey Bogart’s character. The musical theme from “As Time Goes By” is used throughout the film too.
The reason “As Time Goes By” is such a great song is that it celebrates the importance of the little things in life.
I say “little things” … actually they’re often “the big things”. For example, holding someone’s hand to show you love them is in many ways a little thing. It’s easy to do and almost inconsequential in terms of the effort it requires. But the love shown by that tiny gesture is, in fact, a big thing.
You must remember this
A kiss is still a kiss
A sigh is just a sigh
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by
One of the reasons “As Time Goes By” is so moving is that, in the midst of a terrible war, with suffering all around, it’s a reminder that love always wins over hate in the end. Sometimes it’s a long journey to get there, but it always does.
It’s still the same old story
A fight for love and glory
A case of do or die
The world will always welcome lovers
As time goes by
The reason love always wins over hate in the end is that love is something everyone else cheers on. We don’t just want it for ourselves, we celebrate it when others find a love of their own too.
Human beings are hard-wired to support love. Which is why actions motivated by hate have a relatively short shelf-life.
In “Casablanca”, Humphrey Bogart’s character ultimately made that journey himself. He’d been hurt and didn’t want to let Ingrid Bergman’s character escape from Casablanca, even though he had a pass that would get her out.
In the end, he realised that if he really loved her, no matter what had happened between them, he had to give her the pass and let her escape. And he put himself at no small personal risk to make that happen.
His feelings of love eventually dissolved his feelings of hurt. They always do.
“Casablanca” is more than a film about the war. It’s a film that illustrates, very movingly, how good wins over evil and love wins over hate.
Put that together with a great song from a half-forgotten Broadway play, which turns out to be perfect for the message of the film, and you’ve got a hit on your hands.
“Casablanca” is near the top of most of the “greatest movies of all time” lists.
And “As Time Goes By” came second in the AFI’s listing of the 100 best movie songs of all time, beaten only by “Over The Rainbow” from “The Wizard Of Oz”.
“As Time Goes By” actually features in two classic movies…in “Sleepless In Seattle” there’s a version by Jimmy Durante which vocally, perhaps, isn’t a match for Dooley Wilson’s version in “Casablanca”, but which is perfect as a gruffly humorous commentary to the story.
Two great films. One great song. Here’s Dooley Wilson with the original “As Time Goes By” from the iconic movie “Casablanca”…
The video is below, but if you prefer to listen to your music on Spotify, you can find the song here… https://open.spotify.com/track/76H7hMhAiJc9kb0mvgJunJ