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You despise me, don't you?... You know, Rick, I have many a friend in Casablanca, but somehow, just because you despise me, you are the only one I trust.
~ Signor Ugarte to Rick Blaine.

Guillermo Ugarte is a minor, but important antagonist in the 1942 Warner Bros. film Casablanca.

He's a Italian who fled to Casablanca and sells items on the black market. Ugarte intends to sell "letters of transit" to the refugees of Rick's Café Américain that can afford them, but things don't work out like he wants.

He was portrayed by the late Peter Lorre, who also played Joel Cairo in the Maltese Falcon, Hans Beckert in M and Le Chiffre in the 1954 television adaptation of Casino Royale.

Biography

Sometime before the events of the film he managed to escape from his hometown Italy and flew over to Casablanca, Morocoo. He eventually came across Rick's Cafe Americain, a café for refugees, and shoves his way into the café's gambling room. He nervously observes Rick's anti-German insult, questions the evasive American's origins - and his cynicism, and then expresses sympathy for the "two German couriers" that were murdered earlier.

Rick is contemptuous of Ugarte's "cut-rate" business of selling exit visas for half of Captain Louis Renault's price - and Ugarte senses it, with a sad tone. Ugarte explains his plan to leave Casablanca once and for all. He told Rick to think of the refugees who'd be stuck in the city if he didn't he help them and Rick asked who would give him a visa.

Ugarte shows Rick two non-rescindable French General-signed letters of transit out of Casablanca that allow their possessor to travel without a regular passport or visa. His display of the visas suggested that he had killed the two German couriers. His plan is to sell them and make a fortune with more money than even he have dreamed of. Chain-smoking nervously, small-time operator Ugarte trusts only Rick and explains his criteria with an ironic compliment: "You know Rick, I have many a friend in Casablanca, but somehow, just because you despise me you are the only one I trust.

Ugarte temporarily entrusts the letters of transit with the trustworthy cafe proprietor. Ugarte hopes that Rick admires him. With a slight sneer on his face, Rick tells Ugarte that he has heard a rumor that the two murdered German couriers were carrying letters of transit, implying that Ugarte was involved in their demise. Ugarte commiserates sarcastically saying he's heard that rumor as well. Rick compliments Ugarte, saying he was little more impressed with him. Rick hides the two priceless letters of transit for him, secretly stashing them in the club's upright piano while Sam was playing a tune on his piano.

He later shows up again in the cafe's gambling room, and being accused of the murders, gets held back at the roulette table by French gendarmes. Rick stands by stonily and ignores Ugarte's squirming, desperate pleas after he fires his gun four times at the police officers and flees to Rick for protection. When Ugarte is dragged away, Rick repeats his non-committal, cold, tough-guy stance to an offended customer: He didn't stick his neck out for anyone.

It's later mentioned that Ugarte is executed by the guards offscreen, though Captain Renault passes his death as either him having been killed while trying to escape or him committing suicide. Fortunately, Ugarte's letters were later discovered by Rick, who ends up using them to save Isla Lund, his love interest, and her husband Victor Laszlo from Major Heinrich Strasser's clutches, allowing them to leave Casablanca in a plane.

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