Casablanca (film)

Casablanca (film)

Infobox Film
name = Casablanca

image_size = 220px
caption = theatrical poster
director = Michael Curtiz
producer = Hal B. Wallis
writer = Play:
Murray Burnett
Joan Alison
Julius J. Epstein
Philip G. Epstein
Howard Koch
Casey Robinson "(uncredited)"
narrator =
starring = Humphrey Bogart
Ingrid Bergman
Paul Henreid
music = Max Steiner
cinematography = Arthur Edeson, ASC
editing = Owen Marks
distributor = Warner Bros.
released = November 26 fy|1942
"(NYC premiere)"
January 23 fy|1943
"(US general release)"
runtime = 102 minutes
country = FilmUS
language = English
budget = $1,039,000
gross = $3.7 million
"(first U.S. release)"
"(U.S. rentals)"
amg_id = 1:8482
imdb_id = 0034583

"Casablanca" (fy|1942) is an American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz, starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Paul Henreid and featuring Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre. It is set in the Vichy-controlled Moroccan city of Casablanca during World War II and focuses on a man's conflict between, in the words of one character, love, and virtue: He must choose between his love for a woman and doing the right thing, helping her and her Resistance leader husband escape from Casablanca to continue his fight against the Nazis.

Although it was an A-list movie, with established stars and first-rate writers – Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch received credit for the screenplay – no one involved with its production expected "Casablanca" to be anything out of the ordinary; [cite web | url = | last = Ebert | first = Roger | title = Casablanca (1942) | date = September 15, 1996 | publisher = "Chicago Sun-Times" | accessdate = 2007-07-29] it was just one of dozens of pictures being churned out by Hollywood every year. 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.cite web |url= |title="Howard Koch, Julius Epstein, Frank Miller Interview" May, 1995 By Eliot Stein of "STEIN ONLINE" on COMPUSERVE | |date=May 1995 |accessdate=2008-06-11 Frank Miller: "There was a scene planned, after the ending, that would have shown Rick and Renault on an Allied ship just prior to the landing at CASABLANCA but plans to shoot it were scrapped when the marketing department realized they had to get the film out fast to capitalize on the liberation of North Africa."] Yet, despite a changing assortment of screenwriters frantically adapting an unstaged play and barely keeping ahead of production, and Bogart attempting his first romantic lead role, "Casablanca" won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Its characters, dialogue, and music have become iconic, and "Casablanca" has grown in popularity to the point that it now consistently ranks near the top of lists of the greatest films of all time.


Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) is a bitter, cynical American expatriate in Casablanca. He owns and runs "Rick's Café Américain", an upscale nightclub and gambling den that attracts a mixed clientèle of Vichy French and Nazi officials, refugees and thieves. Although Rick professes to be neutral in all matters, it is later revealed that he had run guns to Ethiopia to combat the 1935 Italian invasion, and fought on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War against Francisco Franco's Nationalists.

Ugarte (Peter Lorre), a petty criminal, arrives in Rick's club with "letters of transit" obtained through the murder of two German couriers. The papers allow the bearer to travel freely around German-controlled Europe and to neutral Portugal, and from there to America. The letters are almost priceless to any of the continual stream of refugees who end up stranded in Casablanca. Ugarte plans to make his fortune by selling them to the highest bidder, who is due to arrive at the club later that night. However, before the exchange can take place, Ugarte is arrested by the local police, under the command of Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains), a corrupt opportunist who says of himself, "I have no convictions ... I blow with the wind, and the prevailing wind happens to be from Vichy." Unbeknownst to Renault and the Nazis, Ugarte had entrusted the letters to Rick because "... somehow, just because you despise me, you are the only one I trust."

At this point, the reason for Rick's bitterness re-enters his life. His ex-lover Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) arrives with her husband Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), a fugitive Czech Resistance leader long sought by the Nazis. The couple need the letters to leave Casablanca to "reach America and continue [his] work." German Major Strasser (Conrad Veidt) arrives to ensure that Laszlo does not succeed.

When Laszlo speaks with Signor Ferrari (Sidney Greenstreet), a major figure in the criminal underworld and Rick's business rival, Ferrari divulges his suspicion that Rick has the letters. Laszlo meets with Rick privately, but Rick refuses to part with the documents, telling Laszlo to ask his wife for the reason. They are interrupted when a group of Nazi officers led by Strasser begins to sing "Die Wacht am Rhein", a German patriotic song. In response, Laszlo tells the house band to play "La Marseillaise", the French national anthem. The band looks to Rick for permission, and he nods his head. Laszlo starts singing, alone at first, then long-suppressed patriotic fervor grips the crowd and everyone joins in, drowning out the Germans. In retaliation, Strasser orders Renault to close the club.

That night, Ilsa confronts Rick in the deserted cafe. When he refuses to give her the letters, she threatens him with a gun, but is unable to shoot, confessing that she still loves him. She explains that when she first met and fell in love with him in Paris, she believed that her husband had been killed trying to escape from a Nazi concentration camp. Later, with the German army on the verge of capturing the city, she learned that Laszlo was in fact alive and in hiding. She left Rick without explanation to tend to an ill Laszlo.

With the revelation, Rick's bitterness dissolves and the lovers are reconciled. Rick agrees to help, leading her to believe that she will stay behind with him when Laszlo leaves. When Laszlo unexpectedly shows up, after having narrowly escaped a police raid on a Resistance meeting, Rick has Ilsa hide while the two men talk.

Laszlo reveals that he is aware of Rick's love for Ilsa and tries to get Rick to use the letters to take her to safety. However, the police arrive and arrest Laszlo on a petty charge. Rick convinces Renault to release Laszlo by promising to set him up for a much more serious crime: possession of the letters of transit. To allay Renault's suspicions about his motives, Rick explains that he and Ilsa will be leaving for America.

However, when Renault tries to arrest Laszlo for accepting the letters, Rick double crosses Renault, forcing him at gunpoint to assist in the escape. At the last moment, Rick makes Ilsa board the plane to Lisbon with her husband, telling her that she would regret it if she stayed, "Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life."

Major Strasser drives up by himself, having been tipped off by Renault, but Rick shoots him when he tries to intervene. When police reinforcements arrive, Renault pauses, then tells his men to "Round up the usual suspects." Once alone, Renault suggests that he and Rick leave Casablanca and join the Free French at Brazzaville. They walk off into the fog with one of the most memorable exit lines in movie history: "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."


The film was based on Murray Burnett and Joan Alison's then-unproduced play "Everybody Comes to Rick's". [cite book|last=Behlmer|first=Rudy|title=Inside Warner Bros. (1935–1951)|publisher=Weidenfeld and Nicolson|location=London|year=1985|pages=p. 194|isbn=0297792423] The Warner Bros. story analyst who read the play, Stephen Karnot, called it (approvingly) "sophisticated hokum", [cite book|last=Harmetz|first=Aljean|authorlink=Aljean Harmetz|title=Round Up the Usual Suspects: The Making of Casablanca|publisher=Weidenfeld and Nicolson|location=London|pages=p. 17|isbn=0297812947|year=1992] and story editor Irene Diamond convinced producer Hal Wallis to buy the rights for $20,000, [Harmetz, p. 18] the most anyone in Hollywood had ever paid for an unproduced play. [cite web|url=|author=Wilson, Kristi M.|title=Casablanca|publisher=St James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture, Gale Group|date=2002|accessdate=2007-08-10] The project was renamed "Casablanca", apparently in imitation of the 1938 hit "Algiers". [Harmetz, p. 30] Shooting began on May 25, 1942 and was completed on August 3. The film cost a total of $1,039,000 ($75,000 over budget),cite book|last=Robertson|first=James C.|title=The Casablanca Man: The Cinema of Michael Curtiz|pubisher=Routledge|location=London|year=1993|pages=p. 79|isbn=0415068045] not exceptionally high, but above average for the time. [Behlmer, p. 208]

The entire picture was shot in the studio, except for the sequence showing Major Strasser's arrival, which was filmed at Van Nuys Airport. The street used for the exterior shots had recently been built for another film, "The Desert Song", [Behlmer, pp. 214–215] 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 midget extras and a proportionate cardboard plane. Fog was used to mask the model's unconvincing appearance. [Harmetz, p. 237] Nevertheless, the Disney-MGM 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. [cite web | url= | title=The Plane Truth | publisher=Snopes | date=August 21, 2007 | accessdate=2007-12-06] Film critic Roger Ebert calls 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).Ebert, Roger. Commentary to "Casablanca" (Two-Disc Special Edition DVD).]

Bergman'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. [Harmetz, p.170]

Wallis wrote the final line ("Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship") after shooting had been completed. Bogart had to be called in a month after the end of filming to dub it.

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; however 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." [Harmetz, pp. 280–81]


The original play was inspired by a trip to Europe made by Murray Burnett in 1938, during which he visited Vienna shortly after the Anschluss, where he saw discrimination by Nazis first-hand. In the south of France, he came across a nightclub, which had a clientele from many different countries, speaking many different languages, and the prototype of Sam, the black piano player. [Harmetz, pp.53–54] In the play, the Ilsa character was an American named Lois Meredith and did not meet Laszlo until after her relationship with Rick in Paris had ended; Rick was a lawyer.

The first writers to work on the script were the Epstein twins, Julius and Philip, who removed Rick's background and added more elements of comedy. The other credited writer, Howard Koch, came later, but worked in parallel with them, despite their differing emphases; Koch highlighted the political and melodramatic elements. [Harmetz, pp.56–59] The uncredited Casey Robinson contributed to the series of meetings between Rick and Ilsa in the cafe. [Harmetz, pp.175 and 179] Curtiz seems to have favored the romantic parts, insisting on retaining the Paris flashbacks. Despite the many writers, the film has what Ebert describes as a "wonderfully unified and consistent" script. Koch later claimed it was the tension between his own approach and Curtiz's which accounted for this: "Surprisingly, these disparate approaches somehow meshed, and perhaps it was partly this tug of war between Curtiz and me that gave the film a certain balance." [cite web | url =
last = Sorel | first = Edward | title = Casablanca | publisher = "American Heritage" magazine | date = December 1991|accessdate=2007-08-03
] Julius Epstein would later note the screenplay contained "more corn than in the states of Kansas and Iowa combined. But when corn works, there's nothing better." [cite web | url = | title = Casablanca' writer dies at 91 | publisher = CNN | date = January 1, 2001|accessdate=2007-08-03]

The film ran into some trouble from Joseph Breen of the Production Code Administration (the Hollywood self-censorship body), who opposed the suggestions that Captain Renault extorted sexual favors from his supplicants, and that Rick and Ilsa had slept together in Paris. Both, however, remained strongly implied in the finished version. [Harmetz, pp.162–166 and Behlmer, pp.207–208 and 212–213]


Wallis' first choice for director was William Wyler, but he was unavailable, so Wallis turned to his close friend Michael Curtiz. [Harmetz, p.75.] Curtiz was a Hungarian Jewish émigré; he had come to the U.S. in the 1920s, but some of his family were refugees from Nazi Europe.
Roger Ebert has commented that in "Casablanca" "very few shots ... are memorable as shots", Curtiz being concerned to use images to tell the story rather than for their own sake. However, he had relatively little input into the development of the plot: Casey Robinson said Curtiz "knew nothing whatever about story... he saw it in pictures, and you supplied the stories".Quoted in Ebert commentary.] Critic Andrew Sarris called the film "the most decisive exception to the auteur theory", [Sarris, Andrew (1968). "The American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929–1968" (New York: Dutton, 1968), p.176.] to which Aljean Harmetz responded, "nearly every Warner Bros. picture was an exception to the auteur theory". [Harmetz, p.75] Other critics give more credit to Curtiz; Sidney Rosenzweig, in his study of the director's work, sees the film as a typical example of Curtiz's highlighting of moral dilemmas. [cite book|last=Rosenzweig|first=Sidney|year=1982|title=Casablanca and Other Major Films of Michael Curtiz|location=Ann Arbor, Mich|publisher=UMI Research Press|pages=pp. 158–159|isbn=0835713040]

The second unit montages, such as the opening sequence of the refugee trail and that showing the invasion of France, were directed by Don Siegel. [Harmetz, p.264]


The cinematographer was Arthur Edeson, a veteran who had previously shot "The Maltese Falcon" and "Frankenstein". Particular attention was paid to photographing Bergman. She was shot mainly from her preferred left side, often with a softening gauze filter and with catch lights to make her eyes sparkle; the whole effect was designed to make her face seem "ineffably sad and tender and nostalgic". Bars of shadow across the characters and in the background variously imply imprisonment, the crucifix, the symbol of the Free French and emotional turmoil. Dark "film noir" and expressionist lighting is used in several scenes, particularly towards the end of the picture. Rosenzweig argues these shadow and lighting effects are classic elements of the Curtiz style, along with the fluid camera work and the use of the environment as a framing device. [Rosenzweig, pp.6–7]


The music was written by Max Steiner, who was best known for the score for "Gone with the Wind". The song "As Time Goes By" by Herman Hupfeld had been part of the story from the original play; Steiner wanted to write his own composition to replace it, but Bergman had already cut her hair short for her next role (María in "For Whom the Bell Tolls") and could not re-shoot the scenes which incorporated the song, ["As Time Goes By" enjoyed a resurgence after the release of "Casablanca", spending 21 weeks on the hit parade.] so Steiner based the entire score on it and "La Marseillaise", the French national anthem, transforming them to reflect changing moods. [Harmetz, pp. 253–58]

Particularly notable is the "duel of the songs". At Rick's cafe Strasser and a small group of his officers start singing "Die Wacht am Rhein" ("The Watch on the Rhine") around Sam's piano. At the behest of Laszlo, the band at Rick's cafe start playing "La Marseillaise", this rouses the whole cafe to stand and sing defiantly against the Germans drowning them out. In the soundtrack the "La Marseillaise" is played by a full orchestra. Originally, the piece intended for this iconic sequence was the "Horst Wessel Lied", the "de facto" second national anthem of Nazi Germany, but this was still under international copyright in non-Allied countries.

Other songs in the film include "It Had to Be You" from 1924 (music by Isham Jones, lyrics by Gus Kahn), "Knock on Wood" (music by M.K. Jerome, lyrics by Jack Scholl), and "Shine" from 1910 (music by Ford Dabney, lyrics by Cecil Mack and Lew Brown).


The cast is notable for its internationalism: only three of the credited actors were born in the U.S. The top-billed actors were:

*Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine. The New York City-born Bogart became a star with "Casablanca". Earlier in his career, he had been typecast as a gangster, playing characters called Bugs, Rocks, Turkey, Whip, Chips, Gloves and Duke (twice). "High Sierra" (1941) had allowed him to play a character with some warmth, but Rick was his first truly romantic role.

*Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa Lund. Bergman's official website calls Ilsa her "most famous and enduring role". [cite web|url=|title=From quintessential "good girl" to Hollywood heavyweight|publisher=The Family of Ingrid Bergman|accessdate=2007-08-03] The Swedish actress's Hollywood debut in "Intermezzo" had been well received, but her subsequent films were not major successes—until "Casablanca". Ebert calls her "luminous", and comments on the chemistry between her and Bogart: "she paints his face with her eyes". Other actresses considered for the role of Ilsa had included Ann Sheridan, Hedy Lamarr and Michèle Morgan; Wallis obtained the services of Bergman, who was contracted to David O. Selznick, by loaning Olivia de Havilland in exchange. [Harmetz, pp. 88, 89, 92, 95]

*Paul Henreid as Victor Laszlo. Henreid, an Austrian actor who left Austria in 1935, was reluctant to take the role (it "set [him] as a stiff forever", according to Pauline Kael [Harmetz, p. 99] ), 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", while Bergman called Henreid a "prima donna". [Harmetz, p. 97]

The second-billed actors were:

*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".
*Sydney Greenstreet as Signor Ferrari, a rival clubowner. Another Englishman, Greenstreet had previously starred with Lorre and Bogart in his film debut in "The Maltese Falcon".
*Peter Lorre as Signor Ugarte. Lorre was a Hungarian character actor who left Germany in 1933.
*Conrad Veidt as Major Strasser of the Luftwaffe. He was a German actor who had appeared in "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" (1920) before fleeing from the Nazis and ending his career playing Nazis in U.S. films.

Also credited were:

*Dooley Wilson as Sam. He was one of the few American members of the cast. A drummer, he could not play the piano. Hal Wallis had considered changing Sam to a female character (Hazel Scott and Ella Fitzgerald were candidates), and even after shooting had been completed, Wallis considered dubbing over Wilson's voice for the songs. [Harmetz, pp. 139–40, 260 and Behlmer, p. 214]
*Joy Page as Annina Brandel, the young Bulgarian refugee. The third credited American, she was studio head Jack Warner's stepdaughter.
*Madeleine LeBeau as Yvonne, Rick's soon-discarded girlfriend. The French actress was Marcel Dalio's wife until their divorce in 1942.
*S.Z. (or S. K.) "Cuddles" Sakall as Carl, the waiter. He was a Hungarian actor who fled from Germany in 1939. A friend of Curtiz's since their days in Budapest, his three sisters died in a concentration camp.
*Curt Bois as the pickpocket. Bois was a German Jewish actor and another refugee. He may have a claim to the longest film career of any actor other than Mickey Rooney, making his first appearance in 1907 and his last in 1987.
*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.
*Leonid Kinskey as Sascha, whom Rick assigns to escort Yvonne home. He was born in Russia.

Notable uncredited actors were:

* 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", but after he fled the fall of France, 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. Another Austrian, he had spent time in a concentration camp after the Anschluss.
* Norma Varden as the befuddled Englishwoman whose husband has his wallet stolen. She was a famous English character actress.
* Jean Del Val as the French police radio announcer who opens "Casablanca" by reporting the news of the murder of the two German couriers.
* Torben Meyer a Dutch banker who is seated at a baccarat table in Rick's. He tells Carl, "Perhaps if you told him I ran the second largest banking house in Amsterdam." Meyer was a Danish actor.
* Dan Seymour as Abdul, the doorman. He was an American actor, who at 265 pounds often played villains.
* Gregory Gaye as the German banker who is refused entry to the casino by Rick. Gaye was a Russian-born actor who came to the United States in 1917 after the Russian Revolution.

Part of the emotional impact of the film has been attributed to the large proportion of European exiles and refugees among the extras and in the minor roles. A witness to the filming of the "duel of the songs" sequence said he saw many of the actors crying, and "realized that they were all real refugees". [ Harmetz, p. 213] 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". [Harmetz, p. 214] The German citizens among them nevertheless had to keep curfew as enemy aliens. Ironically, they were frequently cast as the Nazis from whom they had fled.

Some of the exiled foreign actors were:
* Wolfgang Zilzer who is shot in the opening scene of the movie, was a silent movie actor in Germany who left when the Nazis took over. He later married Casablanca actress Lotte Palfi.
* Hans Twardowski as a Nazi officer who argues with a French officer over Yvonne. Born in Stettin, Germany (today Szczecin, Poland), he fled Germany because he was a homosexual.Fact|date=February 2008
* Ludwig Stössel as Mr. Leuchtag, the German refugee whose English is "not so good". Born in Austria, the Jewish actor was imprisoned following the Nazi 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!"
* 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 the refugee trying to sell her diamonds. Born in Germany, she played stage roles at a prestigious theater in Darmstadt, Germany. She journeyed to America after the Nazis came to power in 1933. She later married another Casablanca actor, Wolfgang Zilzer.
* Trude Berliner as a baccarat player in Rick's. Born in Berlin, she was a famous cabaret performer and film actress. Being Jewish, she left Germany in 1933.
* Louis V. Arco as another refugee in Rick's. Born Lutz Altschul in Austria, he moved to America shortly after the Anschluss and changed his name.
* Richard Ryen as Strasser's aide, Colonel Heinze. The Austrian Jew acted in German films, but fled the Nazis.


The film premiered at the Hollywood Theater in New York City on November 26, 1942, to coincide with the Allied invasion of North Africa and the capture of Casablanca; it went into general release on January 23, 1943, to take advantage of the Casablanca conference, a high-level meeting between Churchill and Roosevelt in the city. It was a substantial but not spectacular box-office success, taking $3.7 million on its initial U.S. release (making it the seventh best-selling film of 1943). [Harmetz, p. 12] Initial critical reaction was generally positive, with "Variety" describing it as "splendid anti-Axis propaganda"; [cite web | url =
title = Film reviews through the years
publisher = "Variety" magazine
date = December 2, 1942
accessdate = 2007-07-29
] as Koch later said, "it was a picture the audiences needed... there were values... worth making sacrifices for. And it said it in a very entertaining way." [Sperling, Cass Warner and Millner, Cork (1994). "Hollywood Be Thy Name: The Warner Bros. Story." Rocklin, CA: Prima, p. 249] Other reviews were less enthusiastic: "The New Yorker" rated it only "pretty tolerable". [Harmetz, pp. 12–13] The Office of War Information prevented screening of the film to troops in North Africa, believing it would cause resentment among Vichy supporters in the region. [Harmetz, p. 286]

At the 1944 Oscars, the film won three awards: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture. Wallis was resentful when Jack Warner, rather than he, collected the best picture award; the slight led to Wallis severing his ties with the studio in April that year. [Harmetz, pp. 321–24]

The film has grown in popularity. Murray Burnett has called it "true yesterday, true today, true tomorrow". [Interviewed in [ "Casablanca 50th Anniversary Special: You Must Remember This"] (Turner: 1992)] By 1955, the film had brought in $6.8 million, making it only the third most successful of Warners' wartime movies (behind "Shine On, Harvest Moon" and "This is the Army"). [Harmetz, p. 283] On April 21, 1957, the Brattle Theater of Cambridge, Massachusetts showed the film as part of a season of old movies. It was so popular that it began a tradition of screening "Casablanca" during the week of final exams at Harvard University which continues to the present day, and is emulated by many colleges across the United States. Todd Gitlin, a professor of sociology who himself attended one of these screenings, had said that the experience was, "the acting out of my own personal rite of passage". [Harmetz, p. 343] The tradition helped the movie remain popular while other famous films of the 1940s have faded away, and by 1977, "Casablanca" was the most frequently broadcast film on American television. [Harmetz, p. 346]

However, there has been anecdotal evidence that "Casablanca" may have made a deeper impression among film-lovers than within the professional movie-making establishment. In the November/December 1982 issue of "American Film", Chuck Ross claimed that he retyped the screenplay to Casablanca, only changing the title back to "Everybody Comes to Rick's" and the name of the piano player to Dooley Wilson, and submitted it to 217 agencies. Eighty-five of them read it; of those, thirty-eight rejected it outright, thirty-three generally recognized it (but only eight specifically as "Casablanca"), three declared it commercially viable, and one suggested turning it into a novel. [Zinman, David (April 10, 1983). The Magazine (Sunday supplement to "The Province" newspaper), p. 12]

Critical reception

According to Roger Ebert, "Casablanca" is "probably on more lists of the greatest films of all time than any other single title, including "Citizen Kane" because of its wider appeal; while "Citizen Kane" is "greater", "Casablanca" is more loved. Ebert said that he has never heard of a negative review of the film, even though individual elements can be criticized, citing unrealistic special effects and the stiff character/portrayal of Laszlo. Rudy Behlmer emphasized the variety in the picture: "it's a blend of drama, melodrama, comedy [and] intrigue". Leonard Maltin has stated that this is his favorite movie of all time.

Ebert has said that the film is popular because "the people in it are all so good". As the Resistance hero, Laszlo is ostensibly the most noble, although he is so stiff that he is hard to like. The other characters, in Behlmer's words, are "not cut and dried": they come into their goodness in the course of the film. Renault begins the film as a collaborator with the Nazis, who extorts sexual favors from refugees and has Ugarte killed. Rick, according to Behlmer, is "not a hero, ... not a bad guy": he does what is necessary to get along with the authorities and "sticks his neck out for nobody". Even Ilsa, the least active of the main characters, is "caught in the emotional struggle" over which man she really loves. By the end of the film, however, "everybody is sacrificing."

A dissenting note comes from Umberto Eco, who wrote that "by any strict critical standards... "Casablanca" is a very mediocre film." He viewed the changes the characters undergo as inconsistent rather than complex: "It is a comic strip, a hotch-potch, low on psychological credibility, and with little continuity in its dramatic effects." However, he argued that it is this inconsistency which accounts for the film's popularity by allowing it to include a whole series of archetypes (unhappy love, flight, passage, waiting, desire, the triumph of purity, the faithful servant, the love triangle, beauty and the beast, the enigmatic woman, the ambiguous adventurer and the redeemed drunkard):

:Thus "Casablanca" is not just one film. It is many films, an anthology. [...] When all the archetypes burst in shamelessly, we reach Homeric depths. Two clichés make us laugh. A hundred clichés move us. For we sense dimly that the clichés are talking among themselves, and celebrating a reunion.Umberto Eco, "Travels in Hyperreality" (1986)] [ [] ]

Eco singles out sacrifice as one of the film's key themes: "the myth of sacrifice runs through the whole film." [Eco, Umberto (1994). "Signs of Life in the USA: Readings on Popular Culture for Writers" (Sonia Maasik and Jack Solomon, eds.) Bedford Books.] It was this theme which resonated with a wartime audience that was reassured by the idea that painful sacrifice and going off to war could be romantic gestures done for the greater good. [Gabbard, Krin; Gabbard, Glen O. (1990). "Play it again, Sigmund: Psychoanalysis and the classical Hollywood text." "Journal of Popular Film & Television" vol. 18 no. 1 p. 6–17 ISSN 0195-6051]


Critics have subjected "Casablanca" to many different readings. William Donelley, in his "Love and Death in Casablanca", argues that Rick's relationship with Sam, and subsequently with Renault, is, "a standard case of the repressed homosexuality that underlies most American adventure stories". [Donnelly, William (1968). "Love and Death in Casablanca" "Persistence of Vision: A Collection of Film Criticisms", ed. Joseph McBride. Madison: Wisconsin Fim Society Press, pp. 103–7 quoted in Rosenzweig, p. 78 and Harmetz, p. 347] Harvey Greenberg presents a Freudian reading in his "The Movies on Your Mind", in which the transgressions which prevent Rick from returning to the U.S. constitute an Oedipus complex, which is resolved only when Rick begins to identify with the father figure of Laszlo and the cause which he represents. [Greenberg, Harvey (1975). "The Movies on Your Mind" New York: Saturday Review Press, p. 88 quoted in Rosenzweig, p. 79 and Harmetz, p. 348] Sidney Rosenzweig argues that such readings are reductive, and that the most important aspect of the film is its ambiguity, above all in the central character of Rick; he cites the different names which each character gives Rick (Richard, Ricky, Mr Rick, Herr Blaine and so on) as evidence of the different meanings which he has for each person. [Rosenzweig, p. 81]


Many subsequent films have drawn on elements of "Casablanca". "Passage to Marseille" reunited Bogart, Rains, Curtiz, Greenstreet and Lorre in fy|1944, while there are many similarities between "Casablanca" and two later Bogart films, "To Have and Have Not" (1944) and "Sirocco" (fy|1951). Parodies have included the Marx Brothers' "A Night in Casablanca" (fy|1946), Neil Simon's "The Cheap Detective" (fy|1978), "Barb Wire" (fy|1996), and "Out Cold" (fy|2001), while it provided the title for the fy|1995 hit "The Usual Suspects". Woody Allen's "Play It Again, Sam" (fy|1972) appropriated Bogart's "Casablanca" persona as the fantasy mentor for Allen's nebbishy character.

"Casablanca" itself was a plot device in the science-fiction television movie "Overdrawn at the Memory Bank" (fy|1983), based on John Varley's story, and made a similar, though much less pivotal, appearance in Terry Gilliam's dystopian "Brazil" (fy|1985). Warner Bros. produced its own parody of the film in the homage "Carrotblanca", a fy|1995 Bugs Bunny cartoon included on the special edition DVD release. It also figured prominently in "Black Cat, White Cat", where one of the characters is obsessed with the closing line.

Steven Soderbergh paid homage to "Casablanca" with "The Good German" (fy|2006), a post-World War II Berlin-set murder mystery shot in black and white using technology from the period in which "Casablanca" was made. The film ends with a scene between two former lovers (played by George Clooney and Cate Blanchett) at an airport. The film's poster echoes the iconic one for "Casablanca".

Television has also drawn on the fame of this film. For example, an episode of the American TV series "Moonlighting", parodied "Casablanca", with Curtis Armstrong as "Rick" and Allyce Beasley as "Agnes".

In literature, Robert Coover's short story "You Must Remember This" (from the book "A Night at the Movies or, You Must Remember This") uses exact quotes from the movie and includes an explicit sex scene between Rick and Ilsa, while the science-fiction novella "The Children's Hour" in the series The Man-Kzin Wars, created and edited by Larry Niven, has a plot which draws many elements from "Casablanca".

Awards and honors

"Casablanca" won three Oscars:
*Academy Award for Best PictureWarner Bros. (Hal B. Wallis, producer)
*Academy Award for Best DirectorMichael Curtiz
*Academy Award for Writing Adapted ScreenplayJulius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein and Howard KochIt was also nominated for another five Oscars:
*Academy Award for Best ActorHumphrey Bogart
*Academy Award for Best Supporting ActorClaude Rains
*Academy Award for Best Cinematography, black-and-white – Arthur Edeson
*Academy Award for Film Editing – Owen Marks
*Academy Award for Original Music ScoreMax Steiner

In 1989, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". In 2005 it was also named one of the 100 greatest films of the last 80 years by (the selected films were not ranked). In 2006, the Writers Guild of America, west voted the screenplay of "Casablanca" the best of all time in its list of the 101 Greatest Screenplays. [cite web | url = | title = 101 Greatest Sceenplays | publisher = Writers Guild of America, west|accessdate=2007-08-03]

American Film Institute recognition

*1998 - AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies - #2
*2001 - AFI's 100 Years... 100 Thrills - #37
*2002 - AFI's 100 Years... 100 Passions - #1
*2003 - AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains:
** Rick Blaine, hero #4
*2004 - AFI's 100 Years... 100 Songs:
** "As Time Goes By" #2
*2005 - AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes - #5, 20, 28, 32, 43, 67 (see Quotations section below)
*2006 - AFI's 100 Years... 100 Cheers - #32
*2007 - AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) - #3

Home video releases

"Casablanca" was released on laserdisc in fy|1991 by Warner Home Video, and on VHS by MGM/UA Home Entertainment in fy|1992. It was first released on DVD in fy|2000, containing the trailer and a making-of featurette. A subsequent two-disc special edition was released in fy|2003 containing audio commentaries, documentaries, and a newly remastered visual and audio presentation. [cite web|url=|title=Casablanca: Two-Disc Special Edition|]

An HD-DVD was released on November 14 fy|2006, containing the same special features as the 2003 DVD. [cite web|url=|title=Casablanca [HD-DVD] |] DVD Reviewers were extremely impressed with the new high-definition transfer of the film. [cite web|url=|title=Casablanca - Humphrey Bogart] [cite web|url=|title=HD DVD Review: Casablanca | High-Def Digest|]

A Blu-ray release with new special features has been announced for December 2 fy|2008; it will also be available on DVD. [cite web|url=|title=WHV Press Release: Casablanca Ultimate Collector's Edition (DVD/Blu-ray) - Home Theater|]

equels and other versions

Almost from the moment "Casablanca" became a hit, talk began of producing a sequel. One titled "Brazzaville" (in the final scene, Renault recommends fleeing to that Free French-held city) was planned, but never produced. Since then, no studio has seriously considered filming a sequel or outright remake. François Truffaut refused an invitation to remake the film in 1974, citing its cult status among American students as his reason. [Harmetz, p. 342] However, it has been reported that Bollywood filmmaker Rajeev Nath is remaking the film, describing it as a "tribute to the original." [cite news|url= |title='Casablanca' to be remade by Bollywood|publisher=Independent News|accessdate=2007-08-11]

The novel, "As Time Goes By", written by Michael Walsh and published in lty|1998, was authorized by Warner. [cite web|url=| presents Michael Walsh, Author of "As Time Goes By"|date=January 8, 1999|publisher=LiveWorld, Inc|accessdate=2007-08-13] [cite web|url=|author=Walsh, Michael|title=How Did I Write "As Time Goes By"?|publisher=Hachette Book Group USA|date=1998|accessdate=2007-08-13] The novel picks up where the movie leaves off, and also tells of Rick's mysterious past in America. The book met with little success. [cite web|title='Mrs. Robinson' Returns in Sequel|url=|publisher=CBS News|author=Lawless, Jill|date=May 31, 2006|accessdate=2007-08-13] David Thomson provided an unofficial sequel in his lty|1985 novel "Suspects".

There have been two short-lived television series based upon "Casablanca", both considered prequels to the movie. The first aired from ytv|1955 to ytv|1956, with Charles McGraw as Rick and Marcel Dalio, who played Emil the croupier in the movie, as Renault; it aired on ABC as part of the wheel series "Warner Bros. Presents". [cite web|url=|title=Casablanca (1955)|publisher=Internet Movie Database Inc|accessdate=2007-08-06] It produced a total of 10 hour-long episodes. Another series, briefly broadcast on NBC in ytv|1983, starred David Soul as Rick, Ray Liotta as Sacha and Scatman Crothers as a somewhat elderly Sam. [cite web|url=|title=Casablanca (1983)|publisher=Internet Movie Database Inc|accessdate=2007-08-06] A total of 5 hour-long episodes were produced.

There were several radio adaptations of the film. The two best-known were a thirty-minute adaptation on "The Screen Guild Theater" on April 26, 1943, starring Bogart, Bergman and Henreid, and an hour-long version on the "Lux Radio Theater" on January 24, 1944, featuring Alan Ladd as Rick, Hedy Lamarr as Ilsa, and John Loder as Victor Laszlo. Two other thirty-minute adaptations were aired: on the "Philip Morris Playhouse" on September 3, 1943 and on the "Theater of Romance" on December 19, 1944, in which Dooley Wilson reprised his role as Sam.

Julius Epstein made two attempts to turn the film into a Broadway musical, in 1951 and 1967, but neither made it to the stage. [Harmetz, p. 338] The original play, "Everybody Comes to Rick's", was produced in Newport, Rhode Island in August 1946, and again in London in April 1991, but met with no success. [Harmetz, p. 331]

"Casablanca" was also part of the film colorization controversy during the 1980s, [cite web|url=,9171,963207,00.html|title=Casablanca In Color?|last=Krauthammer|first=Charles|date=January 12, 1987|publisher="Time"|accessdate=2007-08-06] when a colorized version aired on television. This was briefly available on home video, but it was unpopular with purists. Bogart's son Stephen said, "if you're going to colorize "Casablanca", why not put arms on the Venus de Milo?" [Harmetz, p. 342]


Several rumors and misconceptions have grown up around the film, one being that Ronald Reagan was originally chosen to play Rick. This originates in a press release issued by the studio early on in the film's development, but by that time the studio already knew that he was due to go work for the army, and he was never seriously considered. [Harmetz, p. 74]

Another well-known story is that the actors did not know until the last day of shooting how the film was to end. The original play (set entirely in the cafe) ended with Rick sending Ilsa and Victor to the airport. During scriptwriting, the possibility was discussed of Laszlo being killed in Casablanca, allowing Rick and Ilsa to leave together, but as Casey Robinson wrote to Hal Wallis before filming began, the ending of the film "set up for a swell twist when Rick sends her away on the plane with Victor. For now, in doing so, he is not just solving a love triangle. He is forcing the girl to live up to the idealism of her nature, forcing her to carry on with the work that in these days is far more important than the love of two little people." [Behlmer, pp. 206–207] It was certainly impossible for Ilsa to leave Laszlo for Rick, as the production code forbade showing a woman leaving her husband for another man. Such dispute as there was concerned not whether Ilsa would leave with Laszlo, but how this result could be engineered. [Harmetz, p. 229] The confusion was most probably caused by Bergman's later statement that she did not know which man she was meant to be in love with. While rewrites did occur during the filming, Aljean Harmetz' examination of the scripts has shown that many of the key scenes were shot after Bergman knew how the film would end: any confusion was, in Ebert's words, "emotional", not "factual".


The film has several logical flaws, the foremost being the two "letters of transit" which enable their bearers to leave Vichy French territory. According to the Audio|Lettersoftransit.ogg|audio, Ugarte says the letters had been signed by (depending on the listener) either Free French General Charles de Gaulle or Vichy General Maxime Weygand. The English subtitles on the official DVD read de Gaulle, while the French subtitles specify Weygand. Weygand had been the Vichy Delegate-General for the North African colonies until a month before the film is set (and a year after it was written). De Gaulle was the head of the Free French government in exile, the enemy of the Vichy regime controlling Morocco. A Vichy court martial had convicted De Gaulle of treason "in absentia" and sentenced him to life imprisonment on August 2, 1940, so a letter signed by him would have been of no benefit. A classic MacGuffin, the letters were invented by Joan Allison for the original play and never questioned. [Harmetz, p. 55] Even in the film, Rick suggests to Renault that the letters would not have allowed Ilsa to escape, let alone Laszlo: "People have been held in Casablanca in spite of their legal rights."

In the same vein, though Laszlo asserts that the Nazis cannot arrest him as "This is still unoccupied France; any violation of neutrality would reflect on Captain Renault," Ebert points out that "It makes no sense that he could walk around freely....He would be arrested on sight." Harmetz, however, suggests that Strasser intentionally allows Laszlo to move about, hoping that he will tell them the names of Resistance leaders in occupied Europe in exchange for Ilsa being allowed to leave for Lisbon.

Other mistakes include the wrong version of the flag for French Morocco, Renault's claim that "I was with them [the Americans] when they 'blundered' into Berlin in 1918" (the German capital was not captured in World War I), and no uniformed German troops ever set foot in Casablanca during the Second World War. There are also the inevitable continuity errors; for example, in the final scene, Major Strasser's military overcoat is seen both with and without epaulets. Also, during the scene where Rick leaves Paris on the train, it can clearly be seen that Rick's coat gets sopping wet from the heavy rain, but when he boards the train, the coat suddenly appears dry. Curtiz's attitude towards such details was clear: he said "I make it go so fast, nobody notices."


One of the lines most closely associated with the film—"Play it again, Sam"—is a misquotation. When Ilsa first enters the Café Americain, she spots Sam and asks him to "Play it once, Sam, for old times' sake." When he feigns ignorance, she responds, "Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By.' " Later that night, alone with Sam, Rick says, "You played it for her and you can play it for me." and "If she can stand it, I can! Play it!"

Rick's remark to Ilsa, "Here's looking at you, kid", is not in the draft screenplays, but has been attributed to something Bogart said to Bergman as he taught her poker between takes. [Harmetz, p. 187] It was voted in the 2005 poll by the American Film Institute as the fifth most memorable line in cinema history. [cite web
title = 'Frankly, my dear...' named number one movie quote
url =
publisher = American Broadcasting Company
date = June 23, 2005
accessdate = 2006-11-04
] Six lines from "Casablanca" appeared in the top 100, by far the most of any film ("Gone with the Wind" and "The Wizard of Oz" were next, with three apiece). The others were: "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."(20th), "Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By.'" (28th), "Round up the usual suspects." (32nd), "We'll always have Paris." (43rd), and "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine." (67th).




*cite book|last=Behlmer|first=Rudy|title=Inside Warner Bros. (1935–1951)|publisher=Weidenfeld and Nicolson|location=London|year=1985|isbn=0297792423
*"Casablanca" (Two-Disc Special Edition DVD) (1942) (with audio commentaries by Roger Ebert and Rudy Behlmer and documentary [ "Casablanca 50th Anniversary Special: You Must Remember This"] , narrated by Lauren Bacall).
*Eco, Umberto (1994). "Signs of Life in the USA: Readings on Popular Culture for Writers" (Sonia Maasik and Jack Solomon, eds.) Bedford Books. ISBN 0-312-25925-5.
*Harmetz, Aljean (1993). "Round Up the Usual Suspects: The Making of Casablanca". Warner Books Inc. ISBN 1-56282-761-8.
*Robertson, James C. (1993). "The Casablanca Man: The Cinema of Michael Curtiz" London:Routledge. ISBN 0-415-06804-5
*Rosenzweig, Sidney (1982). "Casablanca and Other Major Films of Michael Curtiz". Ann Arbor, Mich.: UMI Research Press. ISBN 0-8357-1304-0
*cite web|url=|title=The Official Ingrid Bergman Web Site|publisher=The Family of Ingrid Bergman|accessdate=2007-08-03

External links

*imdb title|0034583|Casablanca
*tcmdb title|610|Casablanca
*amg movie|1:8482|Casablanca
* [ Radio adaptation of "Casablanca"] April 26, 1943 on The Screen Guild Theater; 30 minutes, with the original stars (MP3)
* [ Radio adaptation of "Casablanca"] January 24, 1944 on Lux Radio Theater; 56 minutes, hosted by Cecil B. DeMille (MP3)


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