Of course, in the movie, Laszlo is a hero of the Czechoslovakian resistence (well before the term, "nerd," was known). Why nerdy? Well, Laszlo was portrayed in the movie, not as a soldier but as a writer; acutally, the editor of an underground newspaper in Prague after the Nazi occupation. He wrote truth about the Nazis and that made them hate him and want to throw him in prison, or worse (things aren't so different these days). Now this is admirable in real life and very dangerous if really practiced. Journalists get dead now, just as then, for saying unpopular things to mass audiences. Still, I have this heroic image of Victor Laszlo punching away at his portable typewriter in a dingy basement, while Nazi soldiers patrol the streets above, as he turns out page-after-page of copy that acuses Hitler of murdering innocents, and of having a goofy moustache! (No, Victor didn't get that scar in battle; he was hit in the head when his stuck typewriter carriage unfroze suddenly).
Yeah, Rick's the strong, cool, dude with the heart of gold that Ms Ilsa really loves, but the plot hinges on Victor Laszlo! Getting him away from the Nazis is what puts Ilsa in Casablanca and back to Rick in the first place. And in the end, the cause Laszlo is working for trumps everything else! This is the first revenge of the nerd!
What prompted that rant was my recent review of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. Like Stieg Larsson's other "Lisbeth Salander books," Hornet's Nest is a computer/writer nerd's delight. You have a quirky antihero with killer computer skills and kick-butt martial arts skills, but on top of it all, she's a super kick-butt researcher and her sidekick is a major author and publisher of a Swedish magazine! Salander can go anywhere online and find stuff, clone hard drives, and even pull down evidence against serial killers and corrupt government officials. And then her journalist sidekick can publish it all into a world-wide best seller. You just don't get any more nerdy kick-butt than that!
So here we have a direct line in drama from Victor Laszlo to Lisbeth Salander (there's an alliteration between his last name and her first name; surely not coincidence). He is a straight-laced hero of the Czech resistence with a typewriter. She is an antisocial, antihero of cyberpunks with a keyboard. There does, however, seems to be some difference in scale there. Is Laszlo's cause loftier? The characters around him certainly considered it lofty, and they make great sacrifice for his safety so he can continue his work (in private Victor muses: "People are risking their lives so I can indulge my compulsion to write on my typewriter and make pages and pages...." Salander doesn't have to keep such things to herself. She's an antihero so she doesn't care. She hacks and gets around on the Internet because she can. If she tends to solve crimes, it's because she happens to hate bad-guy-low-lifes, especially women-abusers, and she has the tools to do it. Whatever ideological drive she has is much more below surface than Laszlo's. Maybe she's more honest.
I grew up watching two-fisted heroes on TV and the movies. I've loved the khaki-clad jungle explorer fighting crocodiles and hostile natives to find some unknown. But in the end, I'm too reticent for all that. I'm more of a Laszlo-Salander combo, plunking away trying to write something that's worth something and make a difference from the seat of my leather-bound office chair. I'm alternately driven between motivations like Laszlo, who fights for the right out of ideology, and like Salander, who fights out of reaction against injury to herself or others. In either case, my weapon of choice is the keyboard or pencil striking blows in passionate prose.
Maybe you feel that way too. If so, you're my fellow warrior in the fight against the lies of those who would rule through deception, or any who would destroy the Good for the sake of meglomanic agrandizement of Self at the expense of everyone else. Brandish your pencil and plink your keyboard for the sake of the common good, and stick your neck out for somebody. Even Rick came around.