Directed by: Michael Curtiz
Countries & Regions: United States
Studio: Warner Home Video
Length: 102 mins
Released: 13 March 2000
Cat No: 1000085898
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Classic war-time drama which has been mis-quoted for decades. During World War II former lovers Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) and Ilse... Read More
An unmissable, extras-packed 2-DVD set of everyone’s favourite movie from Hollywood’s classic era – the deluxe treatment indeed for Bogart and Bergman.
Screenwriter Howard Koch says that none of those involved even suspected Casablanca would have an illustrious future, for this hardiest of Hollywood perennials had a precarious origin.
Julius and Philip Epstein improvised the semblance of a story to get Selznick to agree to loan Ingrid Bergman to Warner.
Koch was assigned to write the film with shooting only six weeks away He spent a day gazing out of the studio window, then wrote “fade in.”
The Epsteins provided incidents that evoked the time, place and situation –there was little to choose between the Vichy authorities who enforced the laws and the criminals who made a living by breaking them. Everything could be bought and sold –currency, jewels, visas, girls, with the atmosphere of corruption as pervasive as that of the war.
When shooting started there were 65 pages of script and tensions were building.Scenes were written on the morning they were to be shot. Many contributed ideas. Curtiz: “Don’t worry what’s logical. I make it go so fast nobody notices.”The tug of war between Curtiz (romantic interest) and Koch( character and political intregues) balanced and pays off.
Most of the tension derives from dangers implicit in the tightly structured situations,dialogue and ideas(the three scenes with gunplay are brief and understated.)
Koch picked Peter Lorre (Ugate) to initiate the action.Because two German couriers have been killed and to impress Strasser (Conrad Veidt) Renault makes a big show of arresting Ugarte. Koch wrote that he deliberately played down the violence as it was not unusual in wartime. Strasser must be in Casablanca for a reason, so Koch invented Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) the crusading leader of Europe’s anti-Nazis.
Where does Rick, the hero who defies officialdom, stand at this point?”I stick my neck out for nobody,”Bogart declares.Questioned about his presence, he informs the police, “I came to Casablanca for the waters.” ”But there are not waters in Casablanca.””I was misinformed.” The dialogue alone has made the film famous.
Koch plants a woman(lovely Ingrid Bergman) with whom Rick had an affair in Paris, with Laszlo.
Forty pages of script with two weeks to go. In place were the bad guys, the good guy, and Rick and Renault in an equivocal position in between –two professional cynics only out for themselves. How would Rick react when forced to choose between his own interests and sympathies, especially with Ilse complicating the choice?
Bergman’s question to Koch, “how do I play the love scene when I don’t know whether I am going to end up with Rick or Laszlo?" is understandable. Koch couldn’t make up his mind, and the uncertainty marks the last scene of the film.
Koch mentions the devotion the film continues to inspire as helping us understand its place in film history.Without such a passionate following it would surely have been forgotten - suggesting that a film is only as good as the loyalty it attracts.