On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the release of “Casablanca”, here’s a 2015 essay by David Youngblood about the amazing “La Marseillaise” scene:
When I think of the film, the first thing that comes to my mind isn’t “Here’s looking at you, kid,” or “We’ll always have Paris,” or the song “As Time Goes By,” or any of the other often best-remembered parts. For me, it’s always “La Marseillaise” — the dueling anthems between French refugees and their German occupants singing “Die Wacht am Rhein.” I’ve never found a movie scene yet that can match it. So now, at a time when people are once again turning to “La Marseillaise” for comfort in the face of adversity, I wanted to revisit what makes this scene so powerful.
The most amazing thing? The scene was filmed with actual French refugees. Not people who were refugees—this was shot during the war. They were actual French people who had fled the Nazi takeover of their country. Singing their national anthem.