In “The Thematic Paradigm,” University of Florida professor of film studies, Robert Ray, defines two types of heroes pervading American films, the outlaw hero and the official hero. Often the two types are merged in a reconciliatory pattern, he argues. In fact, this
“reconciliatory pattern found its most typical incarnation…in one particular narrative: the story of the private man attempting to keep from being drawn into action on any but his own terms. In this story, the reluctant hero’s ultimate willingness to help the community satisfied the official values. But by portraying this aid as demanding only temporary involvement, the story preserved the values of individualism as well.” (284)
This reconciliatory pattern is vividly exemplified in Rick, the hero of the classic film, Casablanca. For example, when Rick repeats his non-committal, cold, tough guy stance to an offended customer, “I stick my neck out for nobody,” it is viewed as an outlaw hero characteristic. He appears to be the dangerous man from a gangster movie, but still promise the “safety and comfort” an official outlaw portrays. With Ilsa back into his life, he helps his love and her husband leave Casablanca at the end. He sacrifices his love to save her from being endangered from the law. Ironically, Rick is a man who once fought in war, yet he still remains neutral with others. He allows equal status with individuals. A war is going on between the German and the French, but he doesn’t take any of their side. After tragically losing the love of his life the first time, Rick ceased to show any political involvement or any strong political beliefs and began to worry only about his own well-being. Being an outlaw, Rick’s character can’t have friends, but he can have buddies that join him in his adventures. With him through thick and thin is Sam. Sam plays the piano at Rick’s Café Americian. He is a man running from the law who meets up with another man doing the same.