Bogart’s cool is part of the reason the movie has succeeded for this long. He has that same dissident cool of Cagney in The Public Enemy. Both have an attitude of indifference towards the world and the people in their lives. Cagney and Bogart each tap the women on the cheek, like a playful punch for Cagney and a gentler gesture for Bogart; in both cases though, a type of dominant or authoritarian gesture. Their confidence and dominance over everyone, although to different degrees and in different ways, is the source of each man’s cool. Men used to be cool when they were unemotional, strong, and detached from everything, even the women in their lives, the “bad boys”. Today it is harder to find a subservient woman, even in the movies, who is willing to deal with an unemotionally available man and keep her mouth shut. The best example of this withdrawn attitude is Leonidas, in 300, leaving his wife for battle without even a kiss goodbye. Instead, the men who are cool in today’s movies have to deal with women who can stand their own two feet, which shifts some, if not most, of the “cool” to the women. The cool men of the past have been forced to give in to the cool ladies of today and, in some cases, even play the stagnant, pathetic character. Ironically, men of today become cool after they show their emotional side, like in Made of Honor, the leading actor starts out with a “Bogart-like” attitude but isn’t cool until he shows his sensitive side and chases the girl.
Ilsa’s subservient, pathetic character portrays an “uncool” which, in comparison, bolsters the cool of women in today’s movies. The way women are represented in movies pre-WWII is ridiculous, but if you think about it, this was reflected in society by the behavior of women (which is even more ridiculous!). I don't know how any woman today could look at Ilsa and aspire to be anything like her. The women in contemporary movies are so much more inspiring and powerful, they show the real potential of women. After the feminist movement, women gained a whole new presence in the world and were able to stand alone. Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider or Wanted show women as real and dynamic; however, movies as diverse as The Italian Job, Just Like Heaven, and Freedom Writers show women as powerful and self-sufficient. Today, even in romantic movies, women have their own lives and minds apart from a man. Women have come a long way since the time of Ilsa, but there’s more to repair to be done to the image of women in film.
Casablanca will forever remain cool; as society transforms and views the movie from new contexts, the version of cool may change, but audiences will always enjoy the excitement and romance of Casablanca.