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c a s a b l a n c a  :   m a k i n g  ]

"I have only one goal: to make the film to the best of my ability so that it will be worth its ticket...."
- Michael Curtiz on Casablanca

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    USA, 1942

    Running time: 102 (or 82) minutes
    Black and white

    directed by Michael Curtiz
    written by Philip G. Epstein, Howard Koch and Julius J. Epstein
    based on the play Everybody Comes to Rick's by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison
    cinematogher, Arthur Edeson
    music by Max Steiner
    edited by Owen Marks

    Humphrey Bogart (Richard "Rick" Blaine)
    Ingrid Bergman (lisa Lund)
    Paul Henreid (Victor Laszlo)
    Claude Rains (Captain Louis Renault)
    Peter Lorre (Ugarte)
    Conrad Veidt (Major Strasser)
    Sydney Greenstreet (Senor Ferrari)



    What a film! What a piece of extravagant, old- fashioned, black-and-white magic from the dream factory! Even today, viewers are deeply moved by scenes in Casablanca that tug at their heartstrings with near magical power. Directed by Michael Curtiz and produced in the United States in 1942 by Hal Wallis - under almost amateurish conditions - the 102-minute film revolves around love on a grand scale. It is also a film about solidarity within a chaotic struggle for political power. These combined themes are what have made Casablanca the ultimate cult movie.

    In the film, screen idols Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart are caught up in a sentimental plot that owes its magnetism more to interpersonal relationships than to factual events. It isn't necessary for viewers to know or even acknowledge the very real, French colonial background of the melodrama. (In fact, the entire film was shot on studio sets.) Casablanca can be enjoyed apolitically, as a nostalgic, black-and-white love story. The melancholic looks and gestures grip viewers more than those in any other movie of the time, making it easy to admire this classic masterpiece of modern filmmaking for its amorous, heroic, and poetic elements alone.


    Perhaps this is why the film's score, by Max Steiner, has become a trademark, especially the piano solo As Time Goes By performed by Dooley. Many fans of Casablanca also love the film's deceptively simple dialogue, written by Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, and Howard Koch and based on the play Everybody Comes to Rick's by Burnett/Alison. Many exchanges are as witty as they are ironic:

    Renault: "And what in heaven's name brought you to Casablanca?"
    Rick: "My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters."
    Renault: "What waters? We're in the desert."
    Rick: "I was misinformed...."

    Viewers today may not realize that Bogart was second in line, after Ronald Reagan, to play Rick. However, had Reagan played the part, as originally intended, the melodramatic, political romance would never have become such an uninhibited celebration of mysterious "manliness."


    Curtiz wrote in 1941 about his work in progress:

      "I have only one goal, to make the film to the best of my ability so that it will be worth its ticket...."

    The director could hardly have known that there was no cause for worry. As soon as the lights came up after the first screening on September 22, 1942, the word was out: "We've produced a hit!" The following day a telegram reached the studio's New York sales department:

      "Casablanca: truly wonderful...brilliant film...stunning cinematography...Certain, that this will be one of the hottest box office hits of the past two or three years...Rest assured: this film is top-notch..."

    The premiere took place in New York in 1942, eighteen days after the Allies landed in Casablanca. The cinema release in January 1943 coincided with the Casablanca conference of Anglo-American heads of state. The reaction in Germany after the television broadcast of the unedited version in 1973 was equally euphoric:

      "Noble, surreal emotions give this film a glow that surpasses any reality and is nowhere more uplifting or more catching than in a cinema..."



    Memorable scenes and unforgettable lines:

      "if that plane leaves the ground and you are not with him, you will regret it. Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life."

    Rick to 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."


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    lauren bacall | humphrey bogart | michael curtiz
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