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We will always have “Casablanca”: The best romantic film of all time turns 80

On November 26, 1942, a film that would soon become a movie classic was screened for the first time at the Hollywood Theater in New York: “White House”. Produced by Warner Brothers during World War II, the film’s ‘premiere’ date was chosen to take advantage of the recent capture by Allied forces of North Africa, and therefore of the location that gave the film its name.

But far from this purpose of stirring up American patriotic spirits, “Casablanca” has survived the 80 years since its departure to be considered by the American Film Institute as the best american romantic movie of all timea great honor considering that it competes on the list with other classics such as the epic “Gone with the Wind” and the musical “Singin’ in the Rain”.

Directed by the famous filmmaker Michael Curtiz, “Casablanca” it was based on a script for a never-published play titled “Everybody Comes to Rick’s” by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison that was adapted to the cinema by Howard Koch and the twins Julius and Philip Epstein, who took an Oscar for the work. Thus, the film presents movie star Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine, the cynical owner of a nightclub who uses his professed neutrality as a way to survive the Vichy regime in Casablanca, that historic moment when France and its territories were under the control of Nazi Germany.

However, Rick’s attitude will be put to the test when his old love Ilsa Lund – played by a still unknown Ingrid Bergman – returns to his life, looking for a way to escape from Casablanca to the United States with her husband Victor Laszlo. (Paul Henreid), a renowned Czech resistance leader wanted by the Nazis.

Rounding out the cast is Claude Rains as Captain Louis Renault, the corrupt French police authority in Casablanca; Dooley Wilson as Sam, Rick’s pianist and confidante; Sydney Greenstreet as mobster Signor Ferrari; Peter Lorre as the thief Ugarte and Conrad Veidt as Major Heinrich Strasser, leader of the German group that seeks to capture Laszlo.

Despite the stellar cast, it’s a small miracle that “Casablanca” turned out as good as we know it, since when the movie began filming in May 1942, the script had not yet been finished and the film had to be shot almost sequentially – still very rare in cinema – to buy the writers time.

Meanwhile, the Hays Code, a series of moral standards that governed the film industry, tied the hands of the writers by making the dissolution of the adulterous affair between Rick and Ilsa almost inevitablealthough these same rules gave us the iconic ending of the film.

It is interesting to note that Rick was saved from an even worse fate thanks to the intervention of Warner Bros. executives, since in the original script instead of saying goodbye to Ilsa at the airport and joining Louis in the fight against the Nazis, his final destination was a concentration camp.

“Casablanca” forever

80 years after its release, the power of “Casablanca” continues to be felt with indelible phrases such as “We will always have Paris”, Rick and Isla’s last farewell, or “I have a feeling that this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship” with Rick and Louis at the film’s conclusion; but undoubtedly the most famous of all is the false quote “Play it again, Sam”. To be clear, in the movie no one says this sentence and the closest it comes is when Ilsa says to Sam, “Play it once, Sam. For the old times”, and then insist “play it, Sam. Play ‘Time will pass’”. Rick, for her part, doesn’t say the famous line either, instead asking Sam to repeat her rendition by saying, “You played it for her. play it for me If she resisted her, so did I. Playing”. Despite being apocryphal, the quote is perhaps the best-known part of “Casablanca,” so much so that it even served as the title for a 1972 comedy where Woody Allen was counseled on love affairs by the ghost of Humphrey Bogart.

Less well known is that due to the success of the film, an attempt was made to make a sequel. Titled “Brazzaville” (a location that Louis suggests to Rick as his next destination), the sequel to “Casablanca” was proposed by “Flash Gordon” director and co-writer Frederick Stephani, though never accepted, for the sake of the film’s legacy. original. And it is that Stephani, perhaps in an attempt to give a happier ending to the protagonists, destroy the excellent conclusion of the previous film to bring Isla and Rick back together – after the convenient death of Victor Laszlo – in a new and melodramatic situation with love triangles, spies and more action.

And although this sequel did not occur, what did exist were a series of imitations of varying degrees of quality such as “To Have And Have Not” (1944), “Tokyo Joe” (1949) and “Sirocco” (1951); films where Humphrey Bogart returns to play a tough American expat living in other ‘exotic’ locations and intersecting with ladies in trouble, though none of these films achieved the popularity of the original. Happily, we will always have “Casablanca”.

Fun facts

“Casablanca” on TV

Although “Casablanca” never had a sequel, two prequel series were made from the period in which Rick ran his club before the arrival of Ilsa and Victor. The first was broadcast on ABC between September 1955 and 1956, with Charles McGraw in the role of Rick. The show was a flop and only lasted 10 episodes. The second attempt was released in 1983 on NBC and featured an even more impressive cast, starring actors such as Hector Elizondo as Captain Louis Renault, David Soul as Rick Blaine, and a young Ray Liotta as bartender Sacha. Despite this, the series’ runtime was even shorter, lasting only five episodes.

Source: Elcomercio

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