Re: Fatal Flaw?
I guess my problem would be that if the goal of the story was Rick getting Ilsa than who would the Antagonist be? You could say Lazlo, but by definition, an Antagonist actively prevents the Protagonist from acheiving his goal. I don't see that happening.
The next candidate would be Ilsa herself, but I would contend that she is filling another dramatic role and that would be (at the risk of alienating everyone once again) that of the Impact Character. You can think of this character as the Main Character's personal Antagonist if you're uncomfortable with new terminology.
It is her "impact" on Rick, her way of seeing the world, that ultimately influences him to change and become the selfless man he once was. Their relationship in the story fosters this change in much the same way that Red and Andy's relationship result in Red's eventual change. That is where the meaning, or true message of both films lies emotionally.
So Ilsa can't be the real Antagonist of the piece either.
The Antagonist without a doubt is Major Strasser. The Antagonist wants the the efforts to reach the goal to end in failure, the Protagonist wants the efforts to reach the goal to end in success. Maj. Strasser definitely loses. By definition then, the Protagonist in Casablanca wins. Who would that be?
EDIT: jonpiper above argues, if i understand correctly, that Rick's eventual goal was to join the resistance, but that he only discovered that or was motivated towards it till the end. The drive to secure the Story Goal starts the instant the Inciting Incident occurs. That event upsets the balance of things, and there should always be some drive towards resolving that inequity otherwise the story will feel flat, i.e. no narrative drive. That drive should be there from Act 1 till the end.
In addition, it should also be noted that the letters of transit were indeed intended for Lazlo, once Ugarte decides to give them to Rick, balance is upset and the story begins.
On the other hand, if the goal was Lazlo and Ilsa's freedom then you can quite clearly see who the Protagonist and Antagonist are.
I will contend that Lazlo is not a particularly strong Protagonist. I still think he represents the drive to pursue that freedom for himself and Ilsa, but he's not particularly good at it.
Andy on the other hand, kicks ass in this department.