Casablanca (1942) - Illustrated Reference
Casablanca was directed by Michael Curtiz, it premiered on November 26, 1942. Starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre and Dooley Wilson. Screenplay by Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein & Howard Koch. Music by Max Steiner. 102mins.
World War II Casablanca. Rick Blaine comes into possession of two letters of transit taken from dead German couriers. The Gestapo headed by Major Strasser arrive in town and to complicate things further Blaine’s old flame Ilsa pops into Rick’s Café Americain with her husband Victor Laszlo, a resistance leader hunted by the Germans.
One of the most famous films in Hollywood’s rich history started life as an unproduced play called "Everybody Comes to Rick’s", written by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison. When they failed to sell their play to a Broadway producer they sold it to Warner Bros for $20,000.
Rick: Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.
Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957) / Rick Blaine
Born in New York City, Hollywood icon Humphrey Bogart was one of the most popular actors of his era, he won a Best Actor Oscar for The African Queen (1951) and was nominated for Casablanca (1942) and The Caine Mutiny (1954).
Ilsa: I can't fight it anymore. I ran away from you once. I can't do it again. Oh, I don't know what's right any longer. You have to think for both of us. For all of us.
Rick: All right, I will. Here's looking at you, kid.
Ilsa: I wish I didn't love you so much.
Ingrid Bergman (1915-1982) / Ilsa Lund
Born in Stockholm, Sweden, the luminous Ingrid Bergman won 3 Oscars, Best Actress for Gaslight (1944), Anastasia (1956) and Best Supporting Actress for Murder on the Orient Express (1974), and Oscar nominations for – For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943). The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945), Joan of Arc (1948) and Autumn Sonata (1978).
Rick: Don't you sometimes wonder if it's worth all this? I mean what you're fighting for.
Victor Laszlo: You might as well question why we breathe. If we stop breathing, we'll die. If we stop fighting our enemies, the world will die.
Rick: Well, what of it? It'll be out of its misery.
Victor Laszlo: You know how you sound, Mr. Blaine? Like a man who's trying to convince himself of something he doesn't believe in his heart.
Paul Henreid (1908-1992) / Victor Laszlo
Born in Trieste, Austria-Hungary, Paul Henreid’s films include – Goodbye Mr. Chips (1939), Night Train to Munich (1940), Now, Voyager (1942), The Spanish Main (1945), Of Human Bondage (1946), Deception (1946), Deep in my Heart (1954 as Ziegfeld), Never so Few (1959), Operation Crossbow (1965) and Exorcist II The Heretic (1977).
Captain Renault: This is the end of the chase.
Rick: Twenty thousand francs says it isn't.
Captain Renault: Is that a serious offer?
Rick: I just paid out twenty. I'd like to get it back.
Captain Renault: Make it ten. I'm only a poor corrupt official.
Claude Rains (1889-1967) / Captain Louis Renault
Born in London, England, Claude Rains was Oscar nominated Best Supporting Actor for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Casablanca (1942), Mr. Skeffington (1944) and Notorious (1946).
His films include – The Invisible Man (1933), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938 as Prince John), Juarez (1939), The Sea Hawk (1940), The Wolfman (1941), Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), Now, Voyager (1942), Phantom of the Opera (1943), Passage to Marseille (1944), Caesar and Cleopatra (1945 as Julius Caesar), Deception (1946), The Lost World (1960), Lawrence of Arabia (1962 as Mr. Dryden) and The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965 as King Herod).
Conrad Veidt (1893-1943) / Major Heinrich Strasser
Born in Brandenburg, Germany, Conrad Veidt’s films include – The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920 as Cesare), The Hands of Orlac (1924), Waxworks (1924), The Man Who Laughs (1928), The Spy in Black (1939), The Thief of Baghdad (1940 as Jaffar), All Through the Night (1941) and Above Suspicion (1943).
Sydney Greenstreet (1879-1954) / Signor Ferrari
Born in Kent, England, Sydney Greenstreet was Oscar nominated Best Supporting Actor for The Maltese Falcon (1941 as Kasper Gutman). His films include – They Died With Their Boots On (1941), Across the Pacific (1942), Passage to Marseille (1944), The Mask of Dimitrios (1944), Devotion (1946) and The Woman in White (1948).
Ugarte: You despise me, don't you?
Rick: If I gave you any thought I probably would.
Peter Lorre (1904-1964) / Signor Ugarte
Born in Rozsahegy, Hungary, Peter Lorre’s films include – M (1931), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), Mad Love (1935), Secret Agent (1936), Think Fast, Mr. Moto (1937), The Maltese Falcon (1941 as Joel Cairo), All Through the Night (1941), Passage to Marseilles (1944), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), The Beats With Five Fingers (1946), My Favorite Brunette (1947), Beat the Devil (1953), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), Silk Stockings (1957), The Big Circus (1959), Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961), Tales of Terror (1962), The Raven (1963) and The Comedy of Terrors (1963).
Ilsa: Play it once, Sam. For old times' sake.
Sam: I don't know what you mean, Miss Ilsa.
Ilsa: Play it Sam play "As Time Goes By."
Sam: Oh, I can't remember it, Miss Ilsa. I'm a little rusty on it.
Ilsa: I'll hum it for you.
[Sam begins playing]
Ilsa: Sing it, Sam.
Sam: "...You must remember this. A kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh. The fundamental things apply. As time goes by..."
Dooley Wilson (1886-1953) / Sam
Born in Tyler, Texas, forever immortalised as Sam the piano player in Rick’s café, Dooley Wilson was an African-American singer, drummer and actor, his films include – My Favorite Blonde (1942), Cairo (1942), Stormy Weather (1943) and Free for All (1949).
S.Z. Sakall (1883-1955) / Carl (The Waiter)
Madeleine LeBeau (1923-) / Yvonne (Rick's ex-girlfriend)
Leonid Kinskey (1903-1998) / Sascha (The Russian Bartender)
Joy Page (1924-2008) / Annina Brandel (Young Bulgarian girl)
John Qualen (1899-1987) / Berger (Laszlo's Resistance contact)
Curt Bois (1901-1991) / The Pickpocket
Captain Renault: What in heaven's name brought you to Casablanca?
Rick: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
Captain Renault: The waters? What waters? We're in the desert.
Rick: I was misinformed.
The title of the film was to have been “Everybody Comes to Rick’s” which was the name of the play, but it was later changed to the more exotic sounding Casablanca.
The film had many similarities to the play, even the song “As Time Goes By” was featured on there. But WB tried to downplay the film’s connection to it and some of the actors didn’t even know there was a play, Ingrid Bergman in an interview said “Casablanca based on a play? No I don’t think so, we didn’t even know how the film would end.”
Casablanca was scheduled to be released in theatres in the spring of 1943 but when the Allies invaded Casablanca in early November 1942 the producers decided to take advantage of this news report and premiered the film in New York at the end of November. Casablanca didn’t go into general release until early 1943 which is why the film competed against the films of 1943 at the Oscars.
George Raft is more famous for the roles he lost than for the roles he played. He expressed interest in playing Rick Blaine but it didn’t work out, he turned down the role of Roy Earle in High Sierra and turned his nose up at Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon. The three roles that helped turn Bogart into a megastar.
Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
Captain Renault: Oh, thank you very much... [shouts] Everybody out at once!
At one point Ronald Reagan and Ann Sheridan were announced as the leads of the film but it turned out to be a false alarm.
Otto Preminger was tested for the part of Major Strasser. Producer Hal Wallis wanted Hedy Lamarr to play Ilsa, but MGM refused to loan her out.
Lena Horne was considered for the role of Sam, that is at one point they were considering a woman for the singer at Rick’s café.
Dooley Wilson, one of the most famous piano players in cinema history could not play the piano, he was a drummer and singer. Elliot Carpenter was the real piano player just off camera, Dooley would copy his hand movements.
“Play it again, Sam.” one of the most misquoted movie lines of all time is never said in the film. Ilsa tells Sam “Play it Sam, play ‘As Time Goes By’” and Rick tells Sam “You played it for her, you can play it for me. Play it!”
Readers of Premiere magazine voted the line “Here’s looking at you kid” #1 in its 100 Greatest Movie Lines list.
Of the main actors in the film only three were born in the United States, Bogart, Dooley Wilson and Joy Page (the young Bulgarian refugee).
Bogart was an accomplished chess player, he preferred chess to poker because it was harder to cheat at chess. In the first shot of Bogart in Casablanca we see him playing chess.
Captain Renault: Round up the usual suspects.
While some actors claimed the script was rewritten all the time and they weren’t sure how the film was going to end, studio memos show that the ending of the film was clear from the start, there was no way Rick was going to get on that plane with Ilsa, the production code would never have approved it.
Rick: Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
The biggest problem was making the ending acceptable to audiences who didn’t much care for Paul Henreid’s resistance fighter and wanted to see Rick and Ilsa end up together. Some iconic lines were added at the last minute and the shooting of Strasser gave audiences something to cheer about, and topped it all off with one of the greatest last lines in movie history.
To cut costs the airport scene was a studio set with a cardboard cut out airplane in the background, midgets were used as crew in the background to give the setting some scale and make the airplane look bigger.
Hungarian director Michael Curtiz would often mangle the English language with his heavy accent, at one point during filming he told the film crew he wanted a poodle to appear in one shot, the crew searched high and low for a poodle finally finding one and presenting it to the director, “No no!” He shouted, “A poodle. A poodle of water!”
Bogart, Bergman and Henreid would reprise their Casablanca roles for a radio play in April 1943, a war benefit show for CBS radio.
“casa blanca” is Spanish for “white house”, the film was screened at the White House for President Roosevelt.
The Writers Guild of America voted Casablanca best screenplay of all time in 2006, in second place was The Godfather (1972).
Casablanca ranked #2 on the American Film Institutes 100 Greatest Films list (Citizen Kane is #1), #1 on the AFI’s 100 greatest love stories list, #37 on the AFI’s 100 greatest thrillers list.
Rick Blaine was ranked #4 on the AFI’s 50 greatest heroes list, “As Time Goes By” ranked #2 on the AFI’s 100 greatest movie songs (“Over the Rainbow” is #1)
Six quotes from the film are on the AFI’s 100 Greatest Movie Quotes, they are –
“Here’s looking at you, kid” #5
"Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship" #20
"Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By'" #28
"Round up the usual suspects" #32
"We'll always have Paris" #43
"Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine" #67
Casablanca was nominated for 8 Academy Awards – Best Actor (Humphrey Bogart), Best Supporting Actor (Claude Rains), Best Music (Max Steiner), Best Cinematography, Best Editing, winning for Best Screenplay, Best Director (Michael Curtiz) and Best Picture.
The film cost $1,039,000 to make, going $75,000 over budget. It was a hit grossing $3.7m in its initial release in US theatres and ending up the seventh biggest film of 1943.
One of the films chosen for preservation by the National Film Registry in 1989.
Regarded as just another WB film on the production line at the time it was being made, Casablanca surprised many, including the actors who starred in it, by winning Best Picture and other awards. It would eventually become one of the best loved movies of all time and perhaps the most quotable film ever made.
Ilsa: But what about us?
Rick: We'll always have Paris. We lost it until you came to Casablanca. We got it back last night.
Ilsa: When I said I would never leave you.
Rick: And you never will. But I've got a job to do, too. Where I'm going, you can't follow. What I've got to do, you can't be any part of. Ilsa I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you'll understand that.
[Ilsa begins to cry]
Rick: Now, now... here's looking at you kid.
The Critics Wrote –
"Casablanca is splendid anti-Axis propaganda. There will be few more touching scenes to be found than when a group of German officers in Rick's begins to sing Nazi tunes and Henreid instructs the orchestra to go into "La Marseillaise." A bit frightenedly at first, but then with a might that completely drowns out the Germans. It is just another facet of the variety of moods, action, suspense, comedy and drama that makes "Casablanca" an A-1 entry at the box office." (Variety)
"Yes, indeed, the Warners here have a picture which makes the spine tingle and the heart take a leap. And they have so combined sentiment, humor and pathos with taut melodrama and bristling intrigue that the result is a highly entertaining and even inspiring film. Casablanca is one of the year's most exciting and trenchant films. It certainly won't make Vichy happy - but that's just another point for it." (Bosley Crowther, New York Times)
"Succeeds as allegory, popular myth, clinical psychology or whatever, and as a superb romantic melodrama." (Richard Corliss, 1992)
"A movie that demonstrates how entertaining a bad movie can be." (Pauline Kael)
"It delivers the goods on every level." (Independent on Sunday, 1992)
"Casablanca is probably on more lists of the greatest films of all time than any other single title, including Citizen Kane. Seeing the film over and over again, year after year, I find it never grows over-familiar. It plays like a favorite musical album; the more I know it, the more I like it. The black-and-white cinematography has not aged as color would. The dialogue is so spare and cynical it has not grown old-fashioned. Much of the emotional effect of ``Casablanca'' is achieved by indirection; as we leave the theater, we are absolutely convinced that the only thing keeping the world from going crazy is that the problems of three little people do after all amount to more than a hill of beans." (Roger Ebert)