“I was misinformed”


And what in heaven’s name brought you to Casablanca?

My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.

Waters? What waters? We’re in the desert.

I was misinformed.

William Goldman in “Which lie did I tell” quotes this Casablanca dialogue and then comments on its elegance, depth and style. Then he writes this amazing paragraph: (emphasis his)

“The character of Rick, of course, is very old - he is the Byronic hero, the tall dark handsome man with a past. Most movie stars - actors, not comedians - have essentially all played that same role. And they have to always face front, never turn sideways -
Because, you see, there’s nothing to them. Try to make them full, try and make them real, and guess what? They disappear.”

and further:

“Hollywood heroes must have
mystery. (....) the more you expose that character to the sunlight, the more he starts to fade.”

Is Goldman right? I think so. Perhaps the greatest gift a movie hero offers us is validation of our suspicion that there is mystery to our lives which even the fullest biography or psychological analysis can’t reveal.

Indeed the allure of the “I was misinformed” is all around us - and not only on screen but also as the source of charisma of many earthlings we meet along the way.

An example of the “I was misinformed” turned into a two hour long film parable (one of my favorites) - “The man who fell to Earth” directed by Nicholas Roeg from the script by Paul Mayersberg (based on the novel by Walter Tevis)


  1. I think Wes Anderson is one of the greatest cotemporary writers/directors -- his approach to characters is supremely complex and even contradictory. Did yous see DARJEELING LIMITED? A great example of irony mixed with total identification.

  2. I enjoyed your post about this dialogue and the metaphor as it applies to our daily lives. I quoted this exact dialogue whenever Kansans would ask, "Why did you move here from L.A.?"

  3. Michal, I am putting "Darleeling Limited" on my plate right now.

    Marlan, did you also quote "the Kansas effect" anecdote?

  4. Come to think of it, I didn't quote that anecdote while in Kansas. Perhaps because it would not be funny to them, considering the number of times 2 Kansas cows in the middle of an empty field managed to bump into each other.