Casablanca buffs: Who was the Frenchwoman crying and singing?

I have just finished reading a long biography of Marshall Pétain and the Vichy Régime. So I thought I would review that famous scene in Casablanca where the French customers drown out the singing Germans with the French National Anthem. You can see it on Youtube at or by searching for Casablanca on Youtube.

I noticed a couple of interesting things. The lady with the guitar is NOT French. You can very clearly hear an English accent when she sings. But the pretty blonde lady with the tears in her eyes fascinates me. Is she somebody? Did she go on to other roles. She looks like she could have been star material. If that is her real voice, she definitely sounds French.

Anyone know anything about her?

The crying lady is Yvonne in the film (Rick’s ex, the 2nd front) and was played by Madeleine LeBeau (born in France). Although she spent a majority of her career in the French film industry, her biggest movie after Casablanca was Fellini’s 8 1/2 (as the french actress).

IMDB link. Apparently, she was married to Marcel Dalio, who plays Emil (the croupier) in Casablanca.

The singer was Corinna Mura (born in Mexico) and appeared in another Curtiz/Bogart/Rains/Greenstreet/Lorre film a couple years later (Passage to Marseille), but didn’t have much of a film career overall.

I knew the singer with the guitar was not French because when she pronounces the word “arrivé” as in “le jour de gloire est arrivé” she does not roll her “r” in the French manner. Since Spanish-speaking people DO roll their Rs, I wonder if she was not fairly anglicized? Or maybe someone else was singing?

Also, having just finished a book about Vichy France, I see how historically relevant that film is. The French cop (what’s his name?) is almost a symbol of France in that period. At first he accepts the Nazi domination and then he finally realizes he has made a pact with the devil and decides to fight.

Captain Renault: “I have no conviction, if that’s what you mean. I blow with the wind, and the prevailing wind happens to be from Vichy.”

Not all people in France “roll” the “r”. Parisians, for example, uvulate it. Further, it isn’t always the case that “r” is sung rolled, even by those who speak it that way, because it becomes less tuneful to do so.

Be that as it may for Parisians, the way she says “arrivé” is exactly the way English people unfamiliar with French sounds would say it. It is almost impossible to reproduce it in writing, but it sounds like “awhreevay”. The English R sound is like an “uhr” pronounced at the front of the mouth. Go back and listen to that clip and you will see what I mean. My guess is the guitar lady was much more familiar with English and perhaps spoke little or no French. Or maybe that is someone else’s voice we are hearing (an English-speaking American) when we see the guitar lady.

Is she as absolutely stunningly beautiful in 8 1/2 as she is in Casablanca? I’ve been looking for a good excuse to watch 8 1/2, and that would be more than enough.

Agreed. I’ve always thought she was the best looking woman in Casablanca.

From her dress and the fact she played flamenco guitar, I’ve always assumed she was Spanish. Almost every character in the film who’s not a native Moroccan is European (excepting Rick and Sam, of course). Most of the actors were, too, and many were themselves refugees from the Nazis. The actor who played Major Strasser, in fact, was a German Jew who fled the Nazis and then made his career in Hollywood playing them.

And I wouldn’t pay too much attention to the accents, either. Note that while we hear all the dialogue in English, the characters would have been speaking French. That fact allows for some bizarre scenes, like the one where the old couple shows off their “English” to Karl.

The actor playing Major Strasser was Conrad Veidt, who was not himself Jewish, but his wife was. Veidt had been a major German film star before fleeing the Nazis.

Right you are! I apologize.