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  • Casablanca (film) Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama

  • film directed by Michael Curtiz and based on Murray Burnett and Joan Alison's un-produced

  • stage play Everybody Comes to Rick's. The film stars Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman,

  • and Paul Henreid; and features Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre,

  • and Dooley Wilson. Set during World War II, it focuses on a man torn between, in the words

  • of one character, "love and virtue". He must choose between his love for a woman and helping

  • her Czech Resistance leader husband escape the Vichy-controlled Moroccan city of Casablanca

  • to continue his fight against the Nazis. Story editor Irene Diamond convinced producer

  • Hal Wallis to purchase the film rights to the play in January 1942. Brothers Julius

  • J. and Philip G. Epstein were initially assigned to write the script. However, despite studio

  • resistance, they left after the attack on Pearl Harbor to work on Frank Capra's Why

  • We Fight series. Howard Koch was assigned to the screenplay until the Epsteins returned.

  • Casey Robinson assisted with three weeks of rewrites, but his work would later go uncredited.

  • Wallis chose Curtiz to direct the film after his first choice, William Wyler, became unavailable.

  • Filming began on May 25, 1942, and ended on August 3, and was shot entirely at Warner

  • Bros. Studios in Burbank, with the exception of one sequence at Van Nuys Airport in Van

  • Nuys. Although Casablanca was an A-list film with

  • established stars and first-rate writers, no one involved with its production expected

  • it to be anything out of the ordinary. It was just one of hundreds of pictures produced

  • by Hollywood every year. Casablanca had its world premiere on November 26, 1942 in New

  • York City, and was released on January 23, 1943, in the United States. The film was a

  • solid if unspectacular success in its initial run, rushed into release to take advantage

  • of the publicity from the Allied invasion of North Africa a few weeks earlier. Despite

  • a changing assortment of screenwriters adapting an unstaged play, barely keeping ahead of

  • production, and Bogart attempting his first romantic leading role, Casablanca won three

  • Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Its lead character, memorable lines, and pervasive

  • theme song have all become iconic. The film has consistently ranked near the top of lists

  • of the greatest films of all time. Plot

  • It is early December 1941. American expatriate Rick Blaine is the proprietor of an upscale

  • nightclub and gambling den in Casablanca. "Rick's Café Américain" attracts a varied

  • clientele: Vichy French, Italian, and German officials; refugees desperate to reach the

  • still neutral United States; and those who prey on them. Although Rick professes to be

  • neutral in all matters, it is later revealed he ran guns to Ethiopia during its war with

  • Italy and fought on the Loyalist side against the fascist Nationalists in the Spanish Civil

  • War. Petty crook Ugarte shows up and boasts to

  • Rick of "letters of transit" obtained by murdering two German couriers. The papers allow the

  • bearer to travel freely around German-controlled Europe and to neutral Portugal, and are thus

  • almost priceless to the refugees stranded in Casablanca. Ugarte plans to sell them at

  • the club later that night. Before he can, however, he is arrested by the local police

  • under the command of Vichy Captain Louis Renault, an unabashedly corrupt official. Ugarte dies

  • in custody without revealing that he had entrusted the letters to Rick.

  • At this point, the reason for Rick's bitternesshis former lover, Norwegian Ilsa Lundwalks

  • into his establishment. Upon spotting Rick's friend and house pianist, Sam, Ilsa implores

  • him to play "As Time Goes By". Rick storms over, furious that Sam has disobeyed his order

  • never to perform that song, and is stunned to see Ilsa. She is accompanied by her husband,

  • Victor Laszlo, a renowned fugitive Czech Resistance leader. They need the letters to escape to

  • America, where he can continue his work. German Major Strasser has come to Casablanca to see

  • that Laszlo does not succeed. When Laszlo makes inquiries, Ferrari, a major

  • underworld figure and Rick's friendly business rival, divulges his suspicion that Rick has

  • the letters. In private, Rick refuses to sell at any price, telling Laszlo to ask his wife

  • the reason. They are interrupted when Strasser leads a group of officers in singing "Die

  • Wacht am Rhein". Laszlo orders the house band to defiantly play "La Marseillaise". When

  • the band looks to Rick, he nods his head. Laszlo starts singing, alone at first, then

  • patriotic fervor grips the crowd and everyone joins in, drowning out the Germans. In retaliation,

  • Strasser has Renault close the club. That night, Ilsa confronts Rick in the deserted

  • café. When he refuses to give her the letters, she threatens him with a gun, but then confesses

  • that she still loves him. She explains that when they first met and fell in love in Paris

  • in 1940, she believed that her husband had been killed attempting to escape from a concentration

  • camp. Later, while preparing to flee with Rick from the imminent fall of the city to

  • the German army, she learned that Laszlo was alive and in hiding. She left Rick without

  • explanation to tend her ill husband. Rick's bitterness dissolves. He agrees to

  • help, leading her to believe that she will stay with him when Laszlo leaves. When Laszlo

  • unexpectedly shows up, having narrowly escaped a police raid on a Resistance meeting, Rick

  • has waiter Carl spirit Ilsa away. Laszlo, aware of Rick's love for Ilsa, tries to persuade

  • him to use the letters to take her to safety. When the police arrest Laszlo on a minor,

  • trumped-up charge, Rick convinces Renault to release him by promising to set him up

  • for a much more serious crime: possession of the letters of transit. To allay Renault's

  • suspicions, Rick explains he and Ilsa will be leaving for America. When Renault tries

  • to arrest Laszlo as arranged, Rick forces him at gunpoint to assist in their escape.

  • At the last moment, Rick makes Ilsa board the plane to Lisbon with her husband, telling

  • her she would regret it if she stayed - "Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and

  • for the rest of your life." Strasser, tipped off by Renault, drives up

  • alone. Rick kills him when he tries to intervene. When the police arrive, Renault pauses, then

  • tells them to "round up the usual suspects." Renault suggests to Rick that they join the

  • Free French in Brazzaville. As they walk away into the fog, Rick says, "Louis, I think this

  • is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." Cast

  • The play's cast consisted of 16 speaking parts and several extras; the film script enlarged

  • it to 22 speaking parts and hundreds of extras. The cast is notably international: only three

  • of the credited actors were born in the United States. The top-billed actors are:

  • Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine. Rick was his first truly romantic role.

  • Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa Lund. Bergman's official website calls Ilsa her "most famous and enduring

  • role". The Swedish actress's Hollywood debut in Intermezzo had been well received, but

  • her subsequent films were not major successes until Casablanca. Film critic Roger Ebert

  • called her "luminous", and commented on the chemistry between her and Bogart: "she paints

  • his face with her eyes". Other actresses considered for the role of Ilsa included Ann Sheridan,

  • Hedy Lamarr and Michèle Morgan. Wallis obtained the services of Bergman, who was contracted

  • to David O. Selznick, by lending Olivia de Havilland in exchange.

  • Paul Henreid as Victor Laszlo. Henreid, an Austrian actor who had emigrated in 1935,

  • was reluctant to take the role (it "set as a stiff forever", according to Pauline Kael),

  • until he was promised top billing along with Bogart and Bergman. Henreid did not get on

  • well with his fellow actors; he considered Bogart "a mediocre actor." Bergman called

  • Henreid a "prima donna". The second-billed actors are:

  • Claude Rains as Captain Louis Renault. Rains was an English actor born in London. He had

  • previously worked with Michael Curtiz on The Adventures of Robin Hood. He later played

  • in Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious with Ingrid Bergman.

  • Conrad Veidt as Major Heinrich Strasser. He was a German actor who had appeared in The

  • Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. He fled the Nazis, but in the United States was frequently cast

  • as a Nazi in American films related to the war.

  • Sydney Greenstreet as Signor Ferrari, a rival nightclub owner. Another Englishman, Greenstreet

  • had previously starred with Lorre and Bogart in his film debut in The Maltese Falcon.

  • Peter Lorre as Signor Ugarte. Lorre, who was born in Austria-Hungary, had left Germany

  • in 1933. He had previously appeared with Bogart and Greenstreet in The Maltese Falcon.

  • Also credited are: Curt Bois as the pickpocket. Bois was a German-Jewish

  • actor and refugee. He had one of the longest careers in film, making his first appearance

  • in 1907 and his last in 1987. Leonid Kinskey as Sascha, the Russian bartender

  • infatuated with Yvonne. He was born into a Jewish family in Russia and had immigrated

  • to the US. Madeleine Lebeau as Yvonne, Rick's soon-discarded

  • girlfriend. The French actress was married to Marcel Dalio until their divorce in 1942.

  • Joy Page as Annina Brandel, the young Bulgarian refugee. The third credited American, she

  • was the stepdaughter of Jack Warner, the studio head.

  • John Qualen as Berger, Laszlo's Resistance contact. He was born in Canada, but grew up

  • in America. He appeared in many of John Ford's movies.

  • S. Z. Sakall (credited as S. K. Sakall) as Carl, the waiter. He was a Jewish-Hungarian

  • actor who fled from Germany in 1939. His three sisters later died in a concentration camp.

  • Dooley Wilson as Sam. He was one of the few American members of the cast. A drummer, he

  • could not play the piano. Even after shooting had been completed, Wallis considered dubbing

  • over Wilson's voice for the songs. Producer Wallis considered changing the character to

  • a woman and thought of casting singers Hazel Scott or Ella Fitzgerald.

  • Notable uncredited actors are: Leon Belasco as a dealer in Rick's Cafe. A

  • Russian-American character actor, he appeared in 13 films the year Casablanca was released.

  • Marcel Dalio as Emil the croupier. He had been a star in French cinema, appearing in

  • Jean Renoir's La Grande Illusion and La Regle de Jeu. After he fled the fall of France and

  • went to America, he was reduced to bit parts in Hollywood. He had a key role in another

  • of Bogart's films, To Have and Have Not. Helmut Dantine as Jan Brandel, the Bulgarian

  • roulette player married to Annina Brandel. Another Austrian, he had spent time in a concentration

  • camp after the Anschluss but left Europe after being freed.

  • William Edmunds as a contact man at Rick's. He usually played characters with heavy accents,

  • such as Martini in It's a Wonderful Life (1946). Gregory Gaye as the German banker who is refused

  • entry to the casino by Rick. Gaye was a Russian-born actor who went to the United States in 1917

  • after the Russian Revolution. Torben Meyer as the Dutch banker who runs

  • "the second largest banking house in Amsterdam". Meyer was a Danish actor.

  • George London, one of those who sing "La Marseillaise". London was a Montreal-born bass-baritone opera

  • singer. Georges Renavent as a conspirator.

  • Corinna Mura as the guitar player who sings "Tango Delle Rose" while Laszlo is consulting

  • with Berger, and later accompanies the crowd on "La Marsaillaise".

  • Dan Seymour as Abdul the doorman. He was an American actor who often played villains,

  • including the principal one in To Have and Have Not, and one of the secondary ones in

  • Key Largo, both opposite Bogart. Norma Varden as the Englishwoman whose husband

  • has his wallet stolen. She was a famous English character actress.

  • Jean Del Val as the French police radio announcer who (following the opening montage sequence)

  • reports the news of the murder of the two German couriers.

  • Leo White as the waiter Emile (not to be confused with the croupier Emil), from whom Renault

  • orders a drink when he sits down with the Laszlos. White was a familiar face in many

  • Charlie Chaplin two-reelers in the 1910s, usually playing an upper-class antagonist.

  • Much of the emotional impact of the film has been attributed to the large proportion of

  • European exiles and refugees who were extras or played minor roles. A witness to the filming

  • of the "duel of the anthems" sequence said he saw many of the actors crying and "realized

  • that they were all real refugees". Harmetz argues that they "brought to a dozen small

  • roles in Casablanca an understanding and a desperation that could never have come from

  • Central Casting". The German citizens among them had to keep curfew, as they were classified

  • by the US as enemy aliens and under restrictions. They were frequently cast as Nazis in war

  • films, even though many were Jewish. Some of the refugee actors are:

  • Louis V. Arco as a refugee in Rick's. Born Lutz Altschul in Austria, he moved to America

  • shortly after the Anschluss because he was Jewish and changed his name.

  • Trude Berliner as a baccarat player in Rick's. Born in Berlin, she was a famous cabaret performer

  • and film actress. Jewish, she left Germany in 1933.

  • Ilka Grünig as Mrs. Leuchtag. Born in Vienna, she was a silent movie star in Germany who

  • came to America after the Anschluss. Lotte Palfi as a refugee trying to sell her

  • diamonds. Born in Germany, she played stage roles at a prestigious theater in Darmstadt,

  • Germany. She emigrated to the US after the Nazis came to power in 1933. She later married

  • another Casablanca actor, Wolfgang Zilzer. Richard Ryen as Strasser's aide, Captain Heinze.

  • The Austrian Jew had acted in German films, but fled the Nazis.

  • Ludwig Stössel as Mr. Leuchtag, the German refugee whose English is "not so good". Born

  • in Austria, the Jewish actor was imprisoned following the Anschluss. When he was released,

  • he left for England and then America. Stössel became famous for doing a long series of commercials

  • for Italian Swiss Colony wine producers. Dressed in an Alpine hat and lederhosen, Stössel

  • was their spokesman with the slogan, "That Little Old Winemaker, Me!"

  • Hans Twardowski as a Nazi officer who argues with a French officer over Yvonne. He was

  • born in Stettin, Germany (now Szczecin, Poland). Wolfgang Zilzer as a Free French agent who

  • is shot in the opening scene of the movie was a silent movie actor in Germany who left

  • when the Nazis took over. When applying for his US visa, he discovered that he had been

  • born in Cincinnati, Ohio when his parents were visiting the United States and thus he

  • was an American citizen. He later married Casablanca actress Lotte Palfi. Zilzer had

  • one of the longest careers in the history of cinema; he first appeared in a movie in

  • 1915, when he was 14, and last appeared in a made-for-TV film in 1986.

  • The comedian Jack Benny may have had an unbilled cameo role (as claimed by a contemporary newspaper

  • advertisement and reportedly in the Casablanca press book). When asked in his column "Movie

  • Answer Man", critic Roger Ebert first replied, "It looks something like him. That's all I

  • can say." He wrote in a later column, "I think you're right."

  • Production The film was based on Murray Burnett and Joan

  • Alison's then-unproduced play Everybody Comes to Rick's. The Warner Bros. story analyst

  • who read the play, Stephen Karnot, called it (approvingly) "sophisticated hokum", and

  • story editor Irene Diamond convinced producer Hal Wallis to buy the rights in January 1942

  • for $20,000, the most anyone in Hollywood had ever paid for an unproduced play. The

  • project was renamed Casablanca, apparently in imitation of the 1938 hit Algiers. Although

  • an initial filming date was selected for April 10, 1942, delays led to a start of production

  • on May 25. Filming was completed on August 3, and the production cost $1,039,000 ($75,000

  • over budget), above average for the time. The film was shot in sequence, mainly because

  • only the first half of the script was ready when filming began.

  • The entire picture was shot in the studio, except for the sequence showing Major Strasser's

  • arrival, which was filmed at Van Nuys Airport, and a few short clips of stock footage views

  • of Paris. The street used for the exterior shots had recently been built for another

  • film, The Desert Song, and redressed for the Paris flashbacks. It remained on the Warners

  • backlot until the 1960s. The set for Rick's was built in three unconnected parts, so the

  • internal layout of the building is indeterminate. In a number of scenes, the camera looks through

  • a wall from the cafe area into Rick's office. The background of the final scene, which shows

  • a Lockheed Model 12 Electra Junior airplane with personnel walking around it, was staged

  • using little person extras and a proportionate cardboard plane. Fog was used to mask the

  • model's unconvincing appearance. Nevertheless, the Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park

  • in Orlando, Florida purchased a Lockheed 12A for its Great Movie Ride attraction, and initially

  • claimed that it was the actual plane used in the film. Film critic Roger Ebert called

  • Hal Wallis the "key creative force" for his attention to the details of production (down

  • to insisting on a real parrot in the Blue Parrot bar).

  • The difference between Bergman's and Bogart's height caused some problems. She was some

  • two inches (5 cm) taller than Bogart, and claimed Curtiz had Bogart stand on blocks

  • or sit on cushions in their scenes together. Later, there were plans for a further scene,

  • showing Rick, Renault and a detachment of Free French soldiers on a ship, to incorporate

  • the Allies' 1942 invasion of North Africa. It proved too difficult to get Claude Rains

  • for the shoot, and the scene was finally abandoned after David O. Selznick judged "it would be

  • a terrible mistake to change the ending." Writing

  • The original play was inspired by a trip to Europe made by Murray Burnett and his wife

  • in 1938, during which they visited Vienna shortly after the Anschluss and were affected

  • by the anti-Semitism they saw. In the south of France, they went to a nightclub that had

  • a multinational clientele, among them many exiles and refugees, and the prototype of

  • Sam. The first writers assigned to the script were

  • twins Julius and Philip Epstein, who, against the wishes of Warner Brothers, left after

  • the attack on Pearl Harbor at Frank Capra's request to work on the Why We Fight series

  • in Washington, D.C. While they were gone, the other credited writer, Howard Koch, was

  • assigned; he produced some thirty to forty pages. When the Epstein brothers returned

  • after a month, they were reassigned to Casablanca andcontrary to what Koch claimed in two

  • published bookshis work was not used. In the final Warner Bros. budget for the film,

  • the Epsteins were paid $30,416, while