AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Casablanca
Director: Michael Curtiz (Dir)
Release Date:   23 Jan 1943
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 25 Nov 1942
Production Date:   25 May--3 Aug 1942
Duration (in mins):   103
Duration (in feet):   9,221
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Cast:   Humphrey Bogart (Rick Blaine)  
    Ingrid Bergman (Ilsa Lund)  
    Paul Henreid (Victor Lazlo)  
    Claude Rains (Louis Renault)  
    Conrad Veidt (Major Strasser)  
    Sydney Greenstreet (Ferrari)  
    Peter Lorre (Ugarte)  
    S. Z. Sakall (Carl)  
    Madeleine LeBeau (Yvonne)  
    Dooley Wilson (Sam)  
    Joy Page (Annina Brandel)  
    John Qualen (Berger)  
    Leonid Kinskey (Sascha)  
    Curt Bois (Dark European)  
    Helmut Dantine (Jan Brandel)  
    Marcel Dalio (Emil, Croupier)  
    Corinna Mura (Andreya)  
    Ludwig Stossel (Mr. Leuchtag)  
    Ilka Gruning (Mrs. Leuchtag)  
    Charles La Torre (Italian officer Tonnelli)  
    Dan Seymour (Abdul)  
    Jean Del Val (Police officer)  
    Franco Corsaro (French police officer)  
    Jamiel Hasson (Muezzin)  
    Lal Chand Mehra (Policeman)  
    Manuel Lopez (Policeman)  
    Wolfgang Zilzer (Civilian)  
    George Dee (Casselle)  
    Norma Varden (Englishwoman)  
    Winifred Harris (Englishwoman)  
    Arthur Dulac (News vendor)  
    Gerald Oliver Smith (Englishman)  
    Herbert Evans (Englishman)  
    Joe de Villard (Moroccan)  
    Adrienne D'Ambricourt (Concierge)  
    Leo Mostovoy (Fydor)  
    Louis Arco (Refuge)  
    Lester Sharpe (Refuge)  
    Jacques Lory (Moor)  
    Arthur Stuart Hull (Elderly admirer)  
    Anita Camargo (Woman companion)  
    George Renavent (Conspirator)  
    Louis Mercier (Conspirator)  
    Geoffrey Steele (Customer)  
    Creighton Hale (Customer)  
    Maurice Brierre (Baccarat dealer)  
    Frank Arnold (Overseer)  
    Dina Smirnova (Woman customer)  
    Gregory Gaye (German)  
    Dick Botiller (Native officer)  
    George Sorel (Navtive officer)  
    Gregory Golubeff (Cashier)  
    Richard Ryen (Heinz)  
    Martin Garralaga (Headwaiter)  
    Olaf Hytten (Prosperous man)  
    Monte Blue (American)  
    George Carlton (American)  
    Michael Mark (Vendor)  
    Leon Belasco (Dealer)  
    Jacques Vanaire (Frenchman)  
    Paul Porcasi (Native)  
    Frank Puglia (Arab vendor)  
    Oliver Prickett (Bartender)  
    Paul Irving (Prosperous tourist)  
    Hans Twardowski (German officer)  
    Henry Rowland (German officer)  
    Albert Morin (French officer)  
    Jean De Briac (Orderly)  
    Lou Marcelle (Narrator)  
    Nino Pellini (Gendarme)  
    Lotte Palfi    
    William Edmunds    
    Trude Berliner    
    Melie Chang    
    Torben Meyer    

Summary: During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at a premium, so when two German couriers carrying letters of transit signed by General DeGaulle are murdered and the letters stolen, German Major Strasser and Louis Renault, the prefecture of police, are eager to find the documents. Strasser is particularly concerned that the letters not be sold to Victor Lazlo, the well-known Czech resistance leader, who is rumored to be on his way to Casablanca. That night, Renault and Strasser search for the killer at Rick's Café Americain, a popular nightclub run by the mysterious American ex-patriot Richard Blaine. Earlier, Ugarte, a shady dealer in exit visas, had asked Rick to hold the stolen letters temporarily, explaining that he has a buyer for them and with the money from their sale, he plans to leave Casablanca. Although Rick fought on the side of the loyalists in Spain, he has grown cynical, and when Renault advises him not to interfere with Ugarte's arrest, Rick replies "I stick my neck out for nobody." He makes a bet with Renault, however, that Lazlo will manage to leave Casablanca despite German efforts to stop him. After Ugarte is arrested, Lazlo and his companion, Ilsa Lund, arrive at Rick's. Ilsa recognizes Sam, the piano player, and while Lazlo makes covert contact with the underground, Ilsa insists that Sam play the song "As Time Goes By." Reluctantly, Sam agrees, and a furious Rick, who had ordered him never to play the song again, emerges from his office to stop him. Rick is taken aback when he sees Ilsa, whom he knew in Paris. Later, after the café is closed, Rick remembers his love affair with Ilsa: After a brief happy time together, the Nazis invade Paris and, worried that Rick will be in danger because of his record, Ilsa advises him to leave the city. He refuses to go without her, and she agrees to meet him at the train station. Instead of coming, though, she sends him a farewell note, and Sam and Rick leave just ahead of the Nazis. Rick's thoughts return to the present with Ilsa's arrival at the café. She tries to explain her actions, but when a drunken Rick accuses her of being a tramp, she walks out. The following day, Lazlo and Ilsa meet with Renault and, there they learn that Ugarte has been killed while in police custody. After Rick helps a young Romanian couple win enough money at roulette to allow them to leave the country, Lazlo, suspecting that Rick has the letters, asks to buy them. Rick refuses and, when Lazlo asks his reasons, suggests that he ask Ilsa. Angered when Rick allows his orchestra to accompany a rousing rendition of "La Marseillaise," Strasser orders the closing of the Café. That night, while Lazlo attends an underground meeting, Ilsa meets Rick and explains that she stayed behind in Paris because, on the day Rick left Paris she had learned that Lazlo, her husband, whom she had married in secret and thought dead, was alive. Now realizing that they still love each other, Ilsa tells Rick that he must made decisions for both of them. Meanwhile, the police break up the underground meeting, and Lazlo takes refuge at Rick's. Before he is arrested, he begs Rick to use the letters to take Ilsa away from Casablanca. The next day, Rick sells the café to his competitor Ferare, the owner of the Blue Parrot, and tricks Renault into releasing Lazlo from prison. They head for the airport, but Renault has managed to alert Strasser, who hurries after them. At the airport, Rick tells Ilsa, who thought that she would be staying with him, that she is to leave with Lazlo because she gives meaning to his work. He then tells Lazlo that he and Ilsa loved each other in Paris, and that she pretended she was still in love with him in order to get the letters. Lazlo, who understands what really happened, welcomes Rick back to the fight before he and Ilsa board the plane. Strasser arrives just as the airplane is about to take off and when he tries to delay the flight, Rick shoots him. Renault then quickly telephones the police, but instead of turning in Rick, he advises them to "round up the usual suspects," and the two men leave Casablanca for the Free French garrison at Brassaville. It is, Rick says, "the beginning of a beautiful friendship." 

Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Production Text: A Hal Wallis Production
Brand Name: A Warner Bros.--First National Picture
Distribution Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Michael Curtiz (Dir)
  Hugh MacMullan (Dial dir)
  Lee Katz (Asst dir)
Writer: Julius J. Epstein (Scr)
  Philip G. Epstein (Scr)
  Howard Koch (Scr)
Photography: Arthur Edeson (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Carl Jules Weyl (Art dir)
Film Editor: Owen Marks (Film ed)
Set Decoration: George James Hopkins (Set dec)
Costumes: Orry-Kelly (Gowns)
Music: Leo F. Forbstein (Mus dir)
  Max Steiner (Mus)
  Hugo Friedhofer (Orch arr)
Sound: Francis J. Scheid (Sd)
Special Effects: Don Siegel (Mont)
  James Leicester (Mont)
  Lawrence Butler (Dir spec eff)
  Willard Van Enger (Spec eff)
Make Up: Perc Westmore (Makeup artist)
Production Misc: Robert Aisner (Tech adv)
  Al Alleborn (Unit mgr)
Country: United States
Language: English

Music: "Avalon," music by Al Jolson and Vincent Rose; "You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby," music by Harry Warren; "Baby Face," music by Harry Akst; "The Very Thought of You," music by Ray Noble; "One Hour with You," music by Richard A. Whiting and Oscar Straus.
Songs: "Knock on Wood," music by M. K. Jerome, lyrics by Jack Scholl; "It Had to Be You," music by Isham Jones, lyrics by Gus Kahn; "That's Why They Call Me 'Shine,'" music by Ford Dabney, lyrics by Cecil Mack; "As Time Goes By," music and lyrics by Herman Hupfeld; "Tango della rose," music and lyrics by Schreier Bottero; "La Marseillaise," music and lyrics by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle; "Die Wacht Am Rhein," music by Karl Wilhelm, lyrics by Max Schneckenburger.
Composer: Harry Akst
  Schreier Bottero
  Ford Dabney
  Herman Hupfeld
  M. K. Jerome
  Al Jolson
  Isham Jones
  Gus Kahn
  Cecil Mack
  Ray Noble
  Vincent Rose
  Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle
  Max Schneckenburger
  Jack Scholl
  Oscar Straus
  Harry Warren
  Richard A. Whiting
  Karl Wilhelm
Source Text: Based on the play Everybody Comes to Rick's by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison (unproduced).
Authors: Joan Alison
  Murray Burnett

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. 23/1/1943 dd/mm/yyyy LP11818

Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: RCA Sound System

 
Genre: Romance
Sub-Genre: World War II
 
Subjects (Major): Cynics
  Nazis
  Romance
  Transformation
  World War II
  World War II--Resistance movements
 
Subjects (Minor): Airports
  Casablanca (Morocco)
  France--History--German occupation, 1940-1945
  Friendship
  Gambling
  Nightclubs
  Marriage
  "La Marseillaise" (Song)
  Murder
  Paris (France)
  Patriotism
  Pianists
  Police
  Singers
  War refugees

Note: In the onscreen credits, actor S. Z. Sakall's name is incorrectly spelled "S. K. Sakall." HR news items add the following information about the production: Warner Bros. bought Everybody Comes To Rick's , the unproduced play by Murray Bennet and Joan Alison, for $20,000 at the suggestion of studio story editor Irene Lee. Ann Sheridan, Ronald Reagan and Dennis Morgan were initially announced as the film's stars, but according to modern sources, Reagan was never really a possibility for the Humphrey Bogart role, as he had been summoned to the U.S. Cavalry Reserve as soon as he finished his previous film, Desperate Journey (see entry below). Modern sources add that this announcement was more likely made in order to provide indirect publicity for the concurrent release of films starring those actors.
       A 14 Feb 1942 memo in the USC Cinema-Television files from producer Hal Wallis to casting director Steve Trilling, indicates that Sheridan was set to star with Bogart. Other news items in HR report that Michele Morgan, who had earlier starred with Paul Henreid in the RKO film Joan of Paris (see below), tested for the role of "Ilsa." Conrad Veidt was borrowed from M-G-M for the role of "Major Strasser." Actress Joy Page (1924--2008), Jack Warner's adopted step-daughter, made her screen acting debut in this picture. The film's opening was moved forward from late spring to take advantage of Casablanca's prominence in the headlines after Allied forces landed in the Axis-occupied city in November 1942. It opened on Thanksgiving Day in New York City, following a parade up Fifth Avenue of Free French leaders, when the Free French flag was unfurled for the first time in the United States since the fall of Vichy.
       Material in the file on the film at the USC Cinema-Television library adds the following information about the production: Technical advisor Robert Aisner served on the Maginot Line and escaped from a concentration camp by way of Casablanca. Actor Helmut Dantine also escaped from a concentration camp, and Madeline LeBeau escaped from France after the German occupation of the country. Actors of thirty-four different nationalities performed in the film, many of whom were refugees. Raymond Burr was tested for a part; Jean Pierre Aumont was tested for the role of "Lazlo;" Otto Preminger tested for the part of "Major Strasser;" and Clarence Muse and William Gillespie tested for the role of "Sam." Muse was signed, but when the deal fell through for undetermined reasons, Dooley Wilson was borrowed from Paramount for the role. Wilson, a professional drummer, could not play the piano, and according to modern sources, Elliot Carpenter, his sometime collaborator, dubbed his piano playing behind the scenes. Wallis suggested tailoring the part of the piano player for either singer Hazel Scott or Lena Horne. Wallis wanted Hedy Lamarr for the part of "Ilsa," but M-G-M, where she was a contract player, refused to loan her out. George Raft expressed interest in the film, but both Wallis and director Michael Curtiz wanted Bogart to play "Rick."
       According to other memos in the USC files, Wally Klein and Aeneas MacKenzie wrote an adaptation of the play. Afterward, Julius and Philip Epstein were assigned to write the script. Later, Howard Koch was assigned to the script along with the Epsteins. According to modern sources, Koch argued unsuccessfully against the flashback scene in Paris because he believed that it would dissipate the tension that had built up in the film to that point. Lenore Coffee also worked briefly on the screenplay. In 1942, Casey Robinson was paid to polish the script and contributed greatly to the love story. Wallis himself created the famous closing line of the film: "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
       Although modern sources have said that the decision to have "Ilsa" leave Casablanca with "Lazlo" was in doubt until the scene was filmed, memos in the USC files reveal that this was the way the original play ended, as well as even the earliest scripts, and it is doubtful that the PCA would have approved of "Ilsa" leaving her husband, especially as he was a war hero. According to modern sources the problem with the ending was how to make Ilsa's departure with Lazlo believable. The Epsteins developed the idea of "Rick" shooting "Strasser," and in a modern interview, Julius Epstein said that they almost spontaneously thought of adding the line, "Round up the usual suspects."
       A 21 May 1942 letter from Joseph I. Breen, director of the PCA, to Warner Bros. executive Jack Warner objects to the portrayal of "Renault's" practice of seducing women in exchange for exit visas. The PCA also objected to the "suggestion that Ilsa was married all the time she was having her love affair with Rick in Paris." Later, Breen warned that the script should not imply that "Ilsa" slept with "Rick" when she comes to beg for the letters of transit.
       Modern sources add the following information about the film: Composer Max Steiner hated the song "As Time Goes By" and wanted to replace it with a song that he had composed himself. This proved impossible as Bergman's hair had been cut short for the role of "Maria" in the film For Whom the Bell Tolls (see entry below), and she was unavailable for the necessary retakes. William Wyler was Wallis' first choice for director, but he was involved in making war documentaries for Frank Capra at the time. Wallis' first choice for the role of "Lazlo" was Dutch actor Philip Dorn. Bogart probably invented his classic line, "Here's looking at you, kid." Wartime regulations forced the majority of the film to be shot on studio soundstages. The scene depicting "Major Strasser's" arrival in Casablanca was filmed at Metropolitan Airport in Van Nuys, but the well-known farewell scene was filmed in the studio.
       The piano that "Sam" played in the Paris scenes was auctioned in 1988 to an anonymous Japanese collector for $154,000. The piano that Sam plays in the scenes at "Rick's" café was also purchased by a private collector, and was loaned to the Warner Bros. Studio Museum in 1996. In 2007, Casablanca was ranked 3rd on AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies--10th Anniversary Edition list of the greatest American films, moving down from the 2nd position it occupied on AFI's 1997 list.
       Casablanca won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director (Michael Curtiz) and Best Screenplay (Philip and Julius Epstein and Howard Koch) and received the following Academy Award nominations: Humphrey Bogart, Best Actor; Claude Rains, Best Supporting Actor; Arthur Edeson, Cinematography; Owen Marks, Film Editing; Max Steiner, Musical Score. When the award for Best Picture was announced, both Warner and Wallis stood up, but Warner got to the stage before Wallis and accepted the award. Even though at this time it was the generally accepted practice for the studio to accept the award for Best Picture, and Wallis won the Thalberg Award "For the most consistently high quality of production by an individual producer, based on pictures he has personallly produced during the preceding year," Warner's action led to a break between the two men. One month later, Wallis' contract with Warner Bros. was canceled on a technicality.
       In Jan 1943, according to a HR news item, a sequel to this film, to be entitled Brazzaville , and to be set in the African headquarters of the Free French, was announced for future production. Humphrey Bogart was to reprise his role, and Geraldine Fitzgerald and Sidney Greenstreet were to co-star. At various times in the 1950s and 1960s, plans were announced to make a theatrical musical version of the film. A Lux Radio Theatre production of Casablanca was broadcast in Jan 1944 and starred Hedy Lamarr and Alan Ladd. Murray Bennett and Joan Alison's play was given its first performance in London in 1991. A colorized version of the film was released in 1988. In 1955-56, a television series based on the film, which starred Charles McGraw as Rick, Marcel Dalio as Renault and Clarence Muse as Sam, was broadcast on ABC. In 1983, a television series, starring David Soul as Rick, lasted for three episodes.
       Over the years, Casablanca has gained a popular following and has appeared on many best-film lists. Probably the best known of the many parodies and tributes to Casablanca is Woody Allen's 1972 film, Play It Again, Sam . The film used the "ghost" of Bogart as "Rick" as a character who advises Allen's bumbling hero in his attempts to romance women after his wife divorces him. A 1998 novel, entitled As Time Goes By , was written by Michael Walsh for Warner Books. The novel followed the characters of Rick, Ilsa, Victor, Sam and Louis after they left Casablanca. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   28 Nov 1942.   
Collier's   12 Feb 44   p. 68.
Daily Variety   8 Dec 42   p. 3.
Daily Variety   9 Mar 1961.   
Daily Variety   21 Feb 1967.   
Film Daily   27 Nov 42   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   31 Dec 41   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Jan 42   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   23 Mar 1942.   
Hollywood Reporter   8 Apr 42   p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter   10 Apr 42   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   13 May 42   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   26 May 42   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   27 May 42   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Nov 42   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Nov 42   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   27 Nov 42   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Dec 42   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   18 Jan 43   pp. 3-4.
Los Angeles Examiner   2 Jan 1942.   
Los Angeles Examiner   2 Jul 1953.   
Los Angeles Mirror   12 Dec 1951.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   28 Nov 42   p. 1029.
New York Times   27 Nov 42   p. 27.
Variety   2 Dec 42   p. 8.

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