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Guest column

I went out to Dulles Airport the other day and it was jammed. While standing in line I thought to myself, “What would happen if they did a remake of ‘Casablanca’?”

I imagined the final scene, when Victor Lazlo (Paul Henreid) and Ilsa Lazlo (Ingrid Bergman) are at the airport waiting for the last plane out, and Homeland Security stops them. Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) is also there, as is Capt. Louis Renault (Claude Rains).

As soon as they arrive at the airport, they can’t get a porter, so Victor has to bring the bags in. The check-in line to get their tickets is a mile long. Lazlo has to stand in line for 50 minutes to get to the counter.

This gives Rick and Ilsa one last chance to make love in the Lost and Found Baggage Department.

“Don’t go,” Rick begs.

Ilsa says, “I have to.”

“Why do you have to?”

“My husband has just checked our luggage and security won’t give the bags back.”

Victor finds his wife and Rick in the Lost and Found and realizes Ilsa loves Rick more than she loves him. “It doesn’t matter,” he says. Once they get on the plane, she will forget about him. The three get into the security check line, which is two miles long.

When they finally get to the front of the line, they find Capt. Renault, who is now a French federal marshal, checking everybody. He makes Lazlo take off his jacket and empty everything in his wallet. Renault makes Ilsa take off her silver Gucci belt and hold her arms out to make sure she is not carrying explosives.

Rick tries to get to Ilsa but Renault stops him. Rick yells at Renault, “Let me through. That is the woman I love.”

Renault replies, “May I see your boarding pass and driver’s license?”

“I left my driver’s license at home.”

“Then you can’t go through.”

Rick says, “I will give you one thousand Eurodollars.”

Renault says, “This is not Casablanca during Vichy times, when the police could be bribed. The French police today are squeaky clean.”

Ilsa is inside the gate and Rick is outside. Rick says to the piano player in the bar, “Play it again, Sam.”

Sam’s voice is broadcast all over the airport loudspeaker system. “You must remember this, a kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh …”

There are tears in Ilsa’s eyes. Rick lights a cigarette and takes a drink from the flask he is carrying.

Victor is at the newsstand, but when he hears “As Time Goes By” he knows Ilsa will always love Rick.

Rick yells over the music, “We’ll always have Paris.”

And Ilsa yells back, “The French give me a pain in the derriere.”

Victor and Ilsa disappear into the fog.

Rick and Federal Marshal Renault go outside the terminal, where Renault gives Rick a ticket for illegal parking. Rick takes the ticket, puts his arms around Renault and says, “This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

I finished rewriting the script just before I had to take off my shoes.

© 2003 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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