Friday, November 26, 2010

Postcard Friendship - You Must Remember This

Today in History, November 26, 1943, the Warner Bros; film, Casablanca was released and went on not only to become the Academy Award winning movie for the year, but also one of the greatest films of all times.

Captain Renault:[to Ilsa] I was informed that you were the most beautiful woman ever to visit Casablanca. That was a *gross* understatement.

A perfect pairing of Humphrey Bogart as Rick, a cynical ex-patriot and saloon owner in Casablanca and Ingrid Bergman as the beautiful Ilsa the only woman he ever loved unexpectedly reunited and trapped in Casablanca.

Capt Renault: What in heaven's name brought you to Casablanca?
Rick: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
Capt. Renault: The waters? What waters? We're in the desert.
Rick: I was misinformed.

The film, although not historically accurate, was filmed during WWII, coincidentally on the heals of the American invasion of Nazi occupied North Africa. The film was all but completed when the invasion took place.

Rick: doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.

Rather than rewrite - which would have meant most of the film would have to be chucked into the waste-bin, it was decided to continue with the story as told and mention the American invasion along with the sounds of canon fire. The tension implied in the film, of trapped people trying to get out of Europe ahead of and in spite of the Nazi's, brought home the reality of the times to the audience.

As it was, most of the script was being written or rewritten during the filming. The ending scene was rewritten several times, and after the picture was thought to be complete, Bogart and Henreid were called back to add the "final" final scene.

Major Strasser: We have a complete dossier on you: Richard Blaine, American, age 37. Cannot return to his country. The reason is a little vague. We also know what you did in Paris, Mr. Blaine, and also we know why you left Paris.
[hands the dossier to Rick]
Major Strasser: Don't worry, we are not going to broadcast it.
Rick: [reading] Are my eyes really brown?

The perfect pairing

Rick: Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.

If you've not seen this film, please do. You'll appreciate the timeless filming in dramatic shadow and light, and ingenious orchestration of music, the wartime requirement costumes by Orry-Kelly, made of cotton and without unnecessary zippers or metal pins. The closing airport scene uses a small scale cardboard cutout of the airplane meant to take Ilsa and Rick out of Casablanca. The director, Frank Capra, wanted men "working" on the plane to make the scene more realistic. Midgets were used so the airplane would appear to be scale.

Capt Renault: Ricky, I'm going to miss you. Apparently you're the only one in Casablanca with less scruples than I.

Wartime censorship and restrictions and moral censorship affected the filming, costuming, script and location shots at every turn. Everything normally used in building a movie set was needed for the war effort. Saving nails, using materials from other sets, renting bamboo chairs for the bar scenes was a necessity. Censorship by the military meant no filming at bridges, tunnels, or most landmarks including airports. Moral censorship made script changes necessary - innuendo was used to tell many of the side stories.

Senor Farrari: Might as well be frank, monsieur. It would take a miracle to get you out of Casablanca, and the Germans have outlawed miracles.

In the original script Rick was to kill an unarmed Major Strasser. However, having the hero kill anyone in cold blood - even a Nazi - would not get past the censors. The Major was given a gun in that scene. The same scene shows one of the major "goofs" in the filming as the epaulets on Major Strasser's coat disappear and reappear between shots

Louis, I believe this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship!

My sources for this post include my multiple viewings of Warner Brother's, Casablanca, the book, Casablanca Behind the Scenes, by Harlan Lebo,, and, of course, Wikipedia.

Here's looking at you, kid!

Stop by and visit our host, Beth Niquette at The Best Hearts Are Crunchy for more Postcard Friendship Friday fun!


Blicky Kitty said...

Lovely! Next time I watch it, I'll have more reasons to love the film.

Postcardy said...

Interesting post. It makes me want to watch the whole movie. I think I've only seen some of the famous scenes.

papel1 said...

Great insight to a great movie.

Joy said...

One of my favourite films, I could watch it time and again. Next time I watch I'll have to be alert to spot all your extra details.

viridian said...

One of my fabvorite movies - I have seen it many times.
Thanks for sharing.
happy PFF!

Dorincard said...

Huh! :)

Lyneen said...

LOVE THE MOVIE... great post.... TFS
Happy PFF!

Sheila said...

Well you have a convert here. :) I've never been persuaded to watch it before.

Debs said...

wonderful! i watched the film again recently feels so daring now to think that it was made during the war...LOVE claude rains in this as well!