Wednesday, 25 March 2009


1942 - Dir: Michael Curtiz
Shown at The FeckenOdeon on 27th October, 2007
Unrequited love, some of the most quoted dialogue ever written, and Dooley Wilson's* ultra cool jazz piano - Casablanca simply has it all. A straightforward romance, about Ingrid Bergman fleeing Nazis and arriving in Casablanca only to find ex-boyfriend Bogart, is elevated to greatness by a cracking cast. The making of the film was fraught with problems. No-one knew what their role was, what their lines were for the day, or even where to stand for their shots. The blind panic that ensued from day one of shooting makes this perfect film all the more miraculous in its execution. Unlike many films that later became classics, Casablanca was popular in its day, although officials at Warner Brothers were convinced that it would be a box-office failure. The movie earned 8 Academy Award nominations, leading to three Oscars (Best Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture). Ironically the best-known bit of dialogue from Casablanca, "Play it again, Sam," isn't even in the movie. Like Captain Kirk's "Beam me up, Scotty," it's an apocryphal line. The closest the movie gets is either "Play it" or "Play 'As Time Goes By.'"
· The production couldn’t afford a full sized aircraft for the final scene so they used a model and surrounded it with a crew of midgets.
· Dooley Wilson* (Sam) was a professional drummer who faked playing the piano. As the music was recorded at the same time as the film, the piano playing was actually a recording of a performance by Elliot Carter who was hidden behind a curtain.
· The letters of transit that motivate so many characters in the film did not exist in Vichy-controlled France - they are purely a plot device invented by the screenwriters.
· Rick's Cafe was one of the few original sets built for the film, the rest were all recycled from other Warner Brothers productions due to wartime restrictions on building supplies.

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