The American Renaissance: Chapter Nine, Casablanca in Cuba
By Michael Moriarty
Four Seasons in Havana has such a classically American hero in it!
Oh, yes, it’s all in Spanish with subtitles… but… it is actually a brilliant turn on Humphry Bogart’s “Rick” of Casablanca!
There’s even a gorgeous Ingrid Bergman in it. The touch-ably hot but profoundly unreachable, un-own-able woman!
No, our hero, Mario Conde, is not a restaurant owner.
He’s a similarly disillusioned cop.
Instead of serving drinks, like Rick of Rick’s, he, like Rick as well, just drinks.
It’s all available on Netflix.
Why see it?
Who wouldn’t want to see a major inheritance from the super-legendary, Hollywood triumph, Casablanca?!
Four Seasons in Havana is Rick’s Café with the ghost of Earnest Hemingway haunting it.
If, as with Four Seasons in Havana, the scripts and the actors are top notch, you can sell a low budget film as classic Hollywood.
Because of Casablanca, Four Seasons in Havana is inevitably a low-budget, film legend.
The classic, “existential” theme of “alienation” is the heart of both Casablanca and Four Seasons in Havana.
The author of the original four novels, Leonardo Padura, with the invaluable help of his screenwriting wife, Lucia Lopez Coll, transformed all four tales into four films, 1 ½ hours each.
Oh, alright, this film-making team are obliged to throw around labels like “Marxist” because, well, the series itself makes it clear: “Cuba is still uncomfortably a most poverty-stricken COMMUNIST DICTATORSHIP!”
Four Seasons in Havana, however, is indelibly American story-telling; and Cuba itself is Rick of Casablanca.
Cuba, Perrugorria’s Mario Conde and Bogart’s Rick want to be almost anything, except what they are.
That’s why they are all exactly what Rick tells the Nazis he is: “I’m a drunk.”
By now, of course, the “Ricks of the World” are an ennobled breed because of Casablanca. No matter how bitter or drunk they become, there is always hope for the Rick’s of the World!
Rick and Mario, no matter how drunk they get, will always end up doing “the right thing”.
No matter how hard this film’s promoters try to make their product “Caribbean Noir”, Four Seasons in Havana is World War II American.
It is, in reality, about nothing more than Individual Freedom!
Whether it’s Nazi-occupied North Africa, Communist-owned Cuba or the New World Order-obsessed United States, the greatest stories are all about The Individual.
From 1952 to ’59, my father would visit Cuba and Havana regularly when it was boiling over with sexual heat under the money-making decadence of Batista.
My stepmother, who accompanied my father to Havana, told me of “Cuban entertainments” that left me secretly wide-eyed and breathless!
The corruption simply changed names, from American tourism to Communism.
As an American, I am obliged to prefer the “tourism” to the “Communism”.
A slave of the Nazis, a corrupted puppet of the Yankees or a terrorized servant of Fidel Castro?
Under any of those nightmares, both Rick of Casablanca and Mario Conde of Havana would have remained the same drunken heroes they have always been.
Therefore, God bless America’s Individual Freedom!
And may God forever damn Idealogues!!
Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in the landmark television series Law and Order from 1990 to 1994. His recent film and TV credits include The Yellow Wallpaper, 12 Hours to Live, Santa Baby and Deadly Skies. Contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/@MGMoriarty.