VICTOR LASZLO leading the patrons of Rick's Cafe in the "Marseillaise" to drown out the Nazis' "Wacht am Rhine" under the direction of Major Strasser—possibly that moment in Casablanca had as much impact on the World War II generation as the news of Pearl Harbor or the eloquence of Winston Churchill.
Or the African Americans in the Alabama courthouse gallery rising to their feet as Atticus Finch passes by below. Or Dolly Levi sashaying down the grand staircase of the Harmonia Gardens to find Louis Armstrong at the bottom radiant as the sun at noon. Or John Travolta lithe as a panther in his white suit and pompadour dancing in Brooklyn. Or Jimmy Stewart being bailed out by his friends in the last moments of It's a Wonderful Life.
In a world where there are no longer books we have almost all of us read, the movies we have almost all of us seen are perhaps the richest cultural bond we have. They go on haunting us for years the way our dreams go on haunting us. In a way they are our dreams. The best of them remind us of human truths that would not seem as true without them. They help to remind us that we are all of us humans together.
-Originally published in Beyond Words