The Swing Shift Shuffle is a radio program of swing, big band, jazz, boogie woogie and other popular music from the 1930's and 40's that airs every Wednesday from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. (US Central Time) on WEVL 89.9 FM in Memphis, Tennessee, with a live webcast at In addition to the radio show, this blog is dedicated to all aspects of the Swing Era, including art, automobiles, cartoons, comics, history, movies, music, news, science, technology, and anything else that happened during that time. It also includes announcements about events in the Memphis/Mid-South area related to the Swing Era, such as classic movies, concerts, dances, lectures, etc. If you see something that fits the description, send it to me at If you would like more information about the radio show, just go to the Radio Show FAQ page.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"Round Up The Usual Suspects!"

With those words, Police Prefect Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains) became the hero of Casablanca (1942).  Yes, I know that Richard Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) thumbed his nose at the Nazis, sacrificed his love for Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) to help Victor Lazlo escape the Germans, and shot the villain, Major Strasser (Conrad Veidt).  I also know that Captain Renault had "no convictions," blew "with the wind," and was only a "poor, corrupt official."  Nevertheless, he was the hero because, if not for his actions, there would have been no happy ending. 

When the Casablanca police arrive at the airport, Victor and Ilsa's plane is taxiing down the runway, Rick stands near the dead body of Major Strasser hiding a smoking revolver in his pocket.  The officers report to Captain Renault, who has witnessed the shooting.  In his most official voice, Captain Renault states that "Major Strasser's been shot."  Then, as the audience waits for him to arrest Rick, with only the slightest pause for a look at Rick, Renault gives the command to "Round up the usual suspects."  At that point, the theater audience inevitably cheers, and only the hero gets cheers. 
That is one of my favorite Claude Rains moments, and a suitable (if long) introduction to a profile on Rains posted by Classic Movie Digest.  Like one of my other favorite actors, Basil Rathbone, Rains was equally adept as good guy (if rarely leading man) or villain.

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