It’s still the same old story.

Eighty years ago this month, Americans first plunked down a quarter for a ticket at their local movie house and fell in love with a love story. The affair is still going strong four generations later.

What is it about “Casablanca” that won’t let go of our collective soul? Is it the “it’s complicated” aspect of Ilsa’s torn-between-two-lovers angst? Is it Rick’s alarmingly moral ambivalence? Is it lingering revulsion at the Nazi threat when a millennium of Western civilization was hanging in the balance?

J. Mark Powell is a novelist, former TV journalist and diehard history buff. Have a historical mystery that needs solving? A forgotten moment worth remembering? Please send it to

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