On November 26, 1942, Casablanca, a World War II-era drama starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, premieres in New York City; it will go on to become one of the most beloved Hollywood movies in history.
In the film, Bogart played Rick Blaine, the owner of a swanky North African nightclub, who is reunited with the beautiful, enigmatic Ilsa Lund (Bergman), the woman who loved and left him. Directed by Michael Curtiz, Casablanca opened in theaters across America on January 23, 1943, and was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Bogart. It took home three Oscars, for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. The film featured a number of now-iconic quotes, including Rick’s line to Ilsa: “Here’s looking at you, kid,” as well as “Round up the usual suspects,” “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship” and “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”
Bogart was born on December 25, 1899, in New York City, and during the 1930s established his movie career playing tough-guy roles. He gained fame as Detective Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon (1941), which marked John Huston’s directorial debut. Bogart and Huston later collaborated on such films as The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) and The African Queen (1951) with Katharine Hepburn, which earned Bogart a Best Actor Oscar. In 1945, Bogart married his fourth wife, the actress Lauren Bacall, with whom he co-starred for the first time in 1944’s To Have and Have Not. Bogey and Bacall became one of Hollywood’s legendary couples and went on to appear together in The Big Sleep (1946), Dark Passage (1947) and Key Largo (1948). Among Bogart’s other film credits are The Barefoot Contessa (1954), with Ava Gardner; Sabrina (1954), with Audrey Hepburn; and The Caine Mutiny (1954), which earned him another Best Actor nomination. Bogart’s final film was The Harder They Fall (1956). He died on January 14, 1957.
Casablanca was also the movie for which the Swedish-born actress Ingrid Bergman is perhaps best remembered. Bergman, born August 29, 1915, received a Best Actress Academy Award nomination for 1943’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, which was followed by a win in the same category for 1944’s Gaslight. She was nominated for the Best Actress Oscar again for 1945’s The Bells of St. Mary’s and 1948’s Joan of Arc. Bergman worked with the acclaimed director Alfred Hitchcock on Spellbound (1945), Notorious (1946) and Under Capricorn (1949). In 1949, the then-married Bergman began a romance with director Roberto Rossellini that created a huge scandal after she became pregnant with his child. (Bergman and Rossellini, who later married, had three children together, including the noted actress Isabella Rossellini.) Although Bergman won another Best Actress Academy Award for 1956’s Anastasia, the actor Cary Grant accepted the award on her behalf, and Bergman did not return publicly to Hollywood until the 1958 Oscars, at which she was a presenter. She won her third Academy Award, in the category of Best Supporting Actress, for 1974’s Murder on the Orient Express. Her final Oscar nomination, in the Best Actress category, was for 1978’s Autumn Sonata, which was helmed by famed Swedish director Ingmar Bergman (to whom she was not related). She died on August 29, 1982.
The film: Widely cited as one of the greatest movies of all time, this 1942 romantic drama set in World War II's African theater also birthed some of history's snappiest phrases. "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine" and "We'll always have Paris" are contenders in their own right. But one classic catchphrase from Casablanca beats them out.
The line: "Here's looking at you, kid."
The setup: Spoken by Rick (Humphrey Bogart) to Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman). Amazingly, this one was almost never spoken: the line was originally in the script as "Here's good luck to you, kid." Supposedly, Bogart changed the line after teaching Bergman how to play poker during the filming of the movie. The phrase may come from a poker hand that includes a king, queen and jack, since all three face cards appear to be "looking at you."
Casablanca retains many authentic examples of traditional Moroccan architecture, particularly within the city walls of the historic Medina of Ad-Dār Al-Bayḍāʾ. There are a number of aḍriħa (mausolea) including those of Sidi Allal al-Qairawani and Sidi Belyout.  Casablanca was one of a number of cities—including Essaouira, Marrakesh, and Rabat—that were revitalized after the earthquake of 1755, by Sultan Mohammed ben Abdallah—who Abdallah Laroui called "the architect of modern Morocco."   The sultan was known to have used European architects, such as Théodore Cornut and Ahmed el Inglizi, in his projects.   The Sqala bastion and the two oldest mosques in the city, the Mosque of the Makhzen and the Walad al-Hamraa Mosque, were built during Sultan Muhammad Ben Abdallah's renovations to the city. 
The city's population grew under the protégé system as Europeans settled in the city, and with the migration of Jews from the interior of the country.  In 1886, Élisée Reclus described Casablanca as a "European coastal settlement" and "desolate and extremely unhealthy."  
In his 1900 map of the city, Dr. Frédéric Weisgerber identified three main parts: the medina, the mellah, and the Tnaker (huts).  Casablanca hosted a kissaria, fonduqs, and a fresh produce market along the Wadi Bouskoura stream, at what is now the United Nations Square. 
The medina was largely destroyed in the French bombardment of 1907, though several important buildings remain.
The oldest European structure in Casablanca was an abandoned prison allegedly built by the Portuguese, arcades of which now decorate the Arab League Park. 
The Church of San Buenaventura (now the Buenaventura Cultural Center) was built in the medina by the Spanish community of Casablanca in 1890. 
In 1900, Casablanca had four consulates and thirteen vice-consulates, which replaced others in Mazagan (al-Jadida), Rabat, and Mogador (Essaouira).  Many of these consulates were built along the waterfront to be easily accessible. The first of these was the British consulate, established in 1857.  The German consulate, originally built as the Belgian consulate in 1900, became the Omar Ibn Abdelaziz Primary School in 1919. 
The original clock tower erected by Charles Martial Joseph Dessigny in 1910 was the first structure built by the French after the bombardment and invasion of Casablanca in 1907. 
French Protectorate Edit
Throughout the decades of the French Protectorate (1912-1956), the urban development of Casablanca was "first and foremost driven by [French] economic interests."  The city was designed with automotive traffic and eventual industrial complexes—such as the port and railroad lines—in mind. 
Casablanca is boldly constructing new projects that Paris is too timid to try.
Prost's plan Edit
Casablanca became a laboratory for the principles of urbanisme d’avant-garde, including a trenchant division and complete disassociation between the medina and the ville européenne.  For the colonial administration, the Moroccan medina was at once a breeding ground of disease to be contained, an antiquity of the past with Oriental charm to be preserved, and a refuge for would-be insurgents to be squelched. 
Henri Prost, General Lyautey's handpicked urban planner, designed the ville européenne or ville nouvelle of Casablanca as a new town. 
The plan was radio-concentric, like Paris.  The main streets radiated southeast from the port, the medina, and the Souq Kbir ( السوق الكبير grand market) which became Place de France and is now United Nations Square.   This square linked the medina, the mellah, and the ville européenne.
Hippolyte Joseph Delaporte designed the first two major buildings to mark the square: the Paris-Maroc stores (1914) and the neo-mauresque Hotel Excelsior (1918).  The former represented the colonial power's conquest of Morocco and commerce in Morocco,  and Claude Farrère said of the latter that "meetings of stock exchange, finance, and commerce took place exclusively in the four cafés surrounding it."  The Central Market (1917) by Pierre Bousquet was built at the site of the Casablanca Fair of 1915.  In 1917, Casablanca became the second city in the world, after New York's 1916 Zoning Resolution, to adopt a comprehensive urban plan. 
Georges Buan's plan appearing in the guide for the Casablanca Fair of 1915
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Casablanca, Arabic Al-Dār al-Bayḍāʾ, or Dar al-Beïda, principal port of Morocco, on the North African Atlantic seaboard.
The origin of the town is not known. An Amazigh (Berber) village called Anfa stood on the present-day site in the 12th century it became a pirates’ base for harrying Christian ships and was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1468. The Portuguese returned to the area in 1515 and built a new town called Casa Branca (“White House”). It was abandoned in 1755 after a devastating earthquake, but the ʿAlawī sultan Sīdī Muhammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh rebuilt the town in the late 18th century. Spanish merchants, who named it Casablanca, and other European traders began to settle there. The French after a time outnumbered other European settlers, and the name Maison Blanche (also meaning “White House”) became as common as Casablanca.
The town was occupied by the French in 1907, and during the French protectorate (1912–56) Casablanca became the chief port of Morocco. Since then, the growth and development of the city have been continuous and rapid. During World War II (1939–45) the city was the seat of a British-U.S. summit conference in 1943. (See Casablanca Conference.) In 1961 a conference at Casablanca, presided over by King Muḥammad V of Morocco, founded the Casablanca group of African states.
The man-made port of Casablanca is protected from the sea by a breakwater and handles most of Morocco’s foreign trade. It is also a port of call for European ships Boulevard Hansali, which leads to the port, is lined with shops for tourists. Inland from the docks and the harbour is the old city, or medina, the original Arab town. Still enclosed in parts by its original rampart walls, it is a maze of narrow streets and whitewashed brick or stone houses. In a semicircle outside the walls of the medina is the town built by the French. Avenues radiating from Muḥammad V Square are intersected by ring roads that reach to the coast on either side of the harbour. Muḥammad V Square, near the gateway of the old medina, and United Nations Square are the business and administrative centres of the town, where banks, hotels, and large modern shops are located. Farther south, overlooking the gardens of the Park of the Arab League, is the white Cathedral of the Sacré Coeur. West of the park and stretching toward the coast are the gardens and villas of residential districts, such as Anfa. Large numbers of poor live in shantytowns (bidonvilles) on the outskirts of the city. The shantytowns largely consist of ramshackle constructions made from cinder blocks and sheet metal, many of which lack basic running water and sewage disposal many, however, sport satellite dishes. The Moroccan government has implemented policies to improve the infrastructure and make these shantytowns more livable.
Buses are the principal means of public transport. A network of petit and grande taxis provide service for travelers within the city and within the surrounding region, respectively. Roads connect Casablanca with other major cities. There is also a railway line that runs northeastward to Tangier—and, during periods of political stability, eastward into Algeria and Tunisia. The Casablanca-Anfa airport, to the southwest, and the Casablanca-Nouaceur airport, to the east of the city, provide international service.
The rapid commercial progress of Casablanca, especially the growth of its port, has established it as the economic capital of Morocco. It accounts for more than half of the bank transactions and industrial production of the country. Casablanca’s industries include textiles, electronics, leather works, food canning, and the production of beer, spirits, and soft drinks. Fishing is important in coastal waters, where a fairly wide continental shelf provides a good fishing ground. The catch includes soles, red mullet, turbot, sea eels, crabs, and shrimps.
Casablanca has Arabic- and French-language schools at different educational levels. There are also various cultural and utilitarian institutes, such as the Goethe-Institut, the Municipal College of Fine Arts, the Municipal Library, a prehistory society, an institute of fishing, and a horticultural society. The Ḥasan II mosque, situated partly on reclaimed land along the coast, is one of the largest and most ornate mosques in the world.
As Morocco’s principal centre for recreation, Casablanca has a number of pleasant beaches, parks, and attractive promenades along the seafront. Pop. (2004) 2,933,684 (2014) 3,357,173.
This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy McKenna, Senior Editor.
Who Played It Again, Sam? The Three Pianists of ‘Casablanca’
by Robert E. Wallace, Ph.D.
On a day in late May of 1942, Michael Curtiz began filming Casablanca on the Warner Brothers lot. That day, two pianists were on set to record the flashback scene set in Montmartre 1 , and one of many recordings of Herman Hupfield’s “As Time Goes By.” Later in production, three pianists were present to record the song in the scene in Rick’s Café with Sam singing for Ilsa 1 . It remains an open question of just whose piano is heard playing in the film. A popularly held notion is that Dooley Wilson’s friend, Elliot Carpenter, was responsible for these pieces in the released film. The following detailed review shows that a studio musician, Jean Plummer, should get the credit.
Who were the players? William Ellfeldt, possibly the AFM representative, was a pianist and arranger for screen and stage (New York and Los Angeles) and who often made piano reductions for stage productions and for film studios 2-7 . Elliot Carpenter, who auditioned for the role of Sam, had an established career in the United States and in London and Paris between world wars 1,8,9 . His band, the Red Devils performed in London and Paris from 1920 until 1923 when he returned to New York 9 . At the same time, Dooley Wilson was in London and Paris drumming and singing with the Red Devils, presumably the second version of the band with Elliot Carpenter 9-11 . Jean Vincent Plummer was a Los Angeles based studio pianist for film, stage, live performance, and live radio. It will appear that he played all live piano in the film. Once finished with work on this film, he was drafted to the Army becoming the principal pianist for the Armed Forces Radio Network Orchestra 12 . Jean Plummer was also staff pianist for CBS Radio and the Screen Guild Theater, ABC’s The Railroad Hour, and had a long career working with Paul Whiteman, Meredith Wilson, Carmen Dragon, and many others 12 .
Film production notes, Daily Production and Progress Reports, memoranda, and the editor’s script have been compared with pay records supplied during production to the American Federation of Musicians, Local 47, by Warner Brothers Studios 1,13 . Furthermore, a forensic musicologist compared playing examples with the music in the released film 14 .
As an example, Howard Rye mentioned that Maine born, popular Crescent City pianist, Earl Roach, claimed to have played “As Time Goes By” in the film 9,15 . As there exists no mention of him in either the production records of the film or in the AFM pay records, his claim may be dismissed.
At a 30 th anniversary screening of the film at the Doheny Plaza (Writers’ Guild) Theater, a captioned photograph of Paul Henreid with Elliot Carpenter noted that “…Carpenter played “As Time Goes By” for actor Dooley Wilson” 16 . Soon thereafter, Carpenter wrote to his old friend Eubie Blake that he had finally been recognized for his work 17,18 . Nothing else appears in press or archives on this subject, although this caption seems to have established the common notion.
The thought that Elliot Carpenter played this and all other material for the film can be found in several popular books 19-22 . Aljean Harmetz’ popular history 23,24 of the making of the film references only the Daily Production and Progress Report from 25-May-1942 1 where Ellfeldt and Carpenter are identified as musicians on set and has Carpenter recording, although neither were paid 13 . It is easy to surmise from one document that he played this song for the many times it or themes adapted by Max Steiner appear in the film. By both a detailed history and musicology, this does not prove to be the case.
Production for this film began the 9 th of April, 1942 with screen test and sound tests continuing through the 14 th of May. Both Plummer and Ellfeldt started on the 10 th and were paid through July to the end of production the 3 rd of August and through to the end of post-production in late August 1,13 . Carpenter shows on set for just four days, paid only to record on the 9 th of June and to sideline on the 11 th of July. In contrast, Plummer was paid for all of the fourteen days he was called to work.
In the weeks before the first slate on May 25 th , Jean Plummer was paid to sideline on each of the four days that Dooley Wilson was made available from MGM. Plummer was called to sideline on the 28 th for scenes in the Gambling Room of Rick’s while Wilson is shown as held. Again, on the 29 th , Plummer is called to sideline while the Daily Report showed Wilson recording all day at the music department. Two production days later, synchronized playback used the pre-recorded disk, D5426, containing Dooley Wilson, with piano accompaniment, singing of “Knock On Wood” and “Dat’s What Noah Done.” This disk, as were others later, was composited to film stock and used several times throughout the production. Given the assignments, timeline, and pay records, it was Plummer who provided the accompaniment. In mid-June, Plummer worked about two hours after the set closed. The next day, June 13 th , disk D5447 first appears in synchronized playback and contained “It Had To Be You” and “Shine.” Late June, the 24 th , has Plummer on-set for live-action standard recording of “Parlez Moi D’Amour” and “If I Could Be With You” with a five piece orchestra and six singers. June 29 th finds Plummer paid for a double recording session while the cast shot scenes in the Café that lead to the flashback to Montmartre. The next day, these scenes were re-shot using forty minutes of unspecified synchronized playback.
On several dates in June and early July, Ellfeldt managed the standard and playback recording of “Watch on the Rhine” and “La Marseillaise,” each time adding more orchestration and singers.
After Max Steiner was assigned to write the film’s score on July 11 th and then, for several days through August 24 th , Ellfeldt managed the recording of the film score. Plummer was recalled the last day on the 25 th of August for a double recording session, also for the score.
Notably, both Carpenter and Ellfeldt were on set for recording but not paid, for scene 117 (May 25 th slates A1-A5), the flashback in Montmartre, and scene 105 (June 15 th slates A217-219), the lead-in at Rick’s Café to the flashback. Scene #94 when Sam sings for Ilsa in Rick’s Café was shot on two days with different personnel recording the same material. The film editor’s script 25 shows that, on June 9 th , slate 164, with Plummer, covered the full scene and that slates 165 -167, with Carpenter, also covered the full scene. It appears from the editor’s time-lines that slates 167, and 173 to 178, with Ellfeldt on June 10 th , were used only for dialogue. The editor’s script shows all these slates were intercut and gives no detail of which performance made into the released film. For this, a musicologist was consulted.
To determine who played piano in that scene, contemporary (i.e., 1940’s) examples of both pianists and soundtrack audio clips were abstracted from a studio release of the film on DVD 26 . This material was provided to a forensic musicologist. Examples from the film are for scene 94 in Rick’s Café at 32minutes, 37seconds to 33m28s, scene 105 of the flashback interlude at 38m15s, and scene 117 in Montmartre at 42m15s through 43m00s. Examples of Jean Plummer were provided from Armed Force Radio Service Orchestra secondary studio acetate recordings held by his heirs 12 of selected standards of the era including, “This Can’t Be Love,” “Blues In The Night,” and a Plummer composition for the AFRS orchestra, “Accent On Rhythm.” Few examples of Elliot Carpenter exist. However, a discography provided by Rye 9 noted the DECCA #40006a/b studio recording of Dooley Wilson accompanied on piano by Elliot Carpenter performing both “As Time Goes By” and “Knock On Wood.” Public release of the 78rpm disc was in late 1943 just after DECCA was the first company to settle with AFM over studio musicians’ pay. A digitized copy of a disc having verified authenticity, and mechanical rights for copy, was obtained for musicological review. Since there was no direct comparison available of each playing “As Time Goes By,” a request to audition sound from corresponding slates 164-167, A1, 217, and 219 was pursued with Warner Brothers. The studio responded that these materials were not kept long after the film was released.
The musicologist’s conclusion, based on the materials provided, is that Carpenter is not the pianist on the soundtrack 14 . His forensic review compared figurative style in improvised parts of the material. It is expected that a performer would have the same or similar style between the two performances, one for the film and the other, later in the studio. Also expected is that each performer has signature decoration and improvisational approach that constitute the distinctive style of each pianist. On this basis, the musicologist’s review stated that the DECCA recording is stylistically inconsistent with the soundtrack and concluded, “the pianist on the soundtrack does very different things than Carpenter does accompanying Wilson in the studio.”
From the foregoing, it can be concluded that all piano performance can be attributed to Jean Plummer. It has been shown that he had ample paid time to pre/live/post-record all of the performances of “As Time Goes By.” Also, it can be concluded that while Elliot Carpenter may have been recorded on-set, his work does not show in the released film. Furthermore, the interpretation of the Daily Progress Report of 25-May-1942 found in Harmetz’ books is leading, at best inconclusive, and falls under detailed scrutiny. Finally, what the audience hears in the released film is the piano of Jean Plummer.
Thanks to so many people who have been helpful in this endeavor.
- Howard Rye, Music Historian, London, UK
- Robert Fink, Professor, UCLA Musicology
- Warren Sherk, Special Collections, Margaret Herrick Library, AMPAS, Los Angeles, CA
- Patrick Russ, Orchestrator and Arranger, Los Angeles, CA
- Len Horowitz, History of Recorded Sound, Culver City, CA
- USC-Warner Archives: Jonathon Auxier, Sandra Aquilar, Sandra Garcia-Myers, Brett Service
- Warner Brothers Studio: Legal, Lisa Margolis and Shannon Fifer History, George Feltenstein
- Damon Talbot, Maryland Historical Society, Eubie Blake Papers
- Danielle Cordovez and Jonathan Hiam, Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives, Elliot Carpenter Papers, New York Public Library
- Gordon Daines and James D’Arc, Max Steiner Collection, Brigham Young University
- Karen Fishman, Library of Congress, Recorded Music
- Brad Kay, Superbatone Record Company, Venice, CA
- Walter Smith, RecordSmith.com, Richmond, VA
- Daily Production Records 09-April-1942 through 24-August-1942. Casablanca file, 1486_F005911_001. Los Angeles: University of Southern California, School of Cinematic Arts, Warner Brothers Archives, accessed November 29, 2011.
- Zhito, Lee, “‘Three Wishes,’ Musical Irish Fantasy Shows Stem Promise in Coast Preem,” The Billboard Magazine, July 14,1951, 3,19.
- The Internet Broadway Database, William Ellfeldt, https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/william-ellfeldt-103578/, accessed October 16, 2016
- The Internet Movie database, William Ellfeldt, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2545476/, accessed October 16, 2016
- In Hollywood, Gus Arnheim Orchestra 1928-1933, Renovation Records, USA, 2006, UPC: 725543700629, compact disk
- Sherk, Warren, electronic private communication to author, Los Angeles, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Margaret Herrick Library, Special Collections, November 12, 2015.
- AllMusic, William Ellfeldt, http://www.allmusic.com/artist/william-ellfeldt-mn0001221484, accessed October 16, 2016.
- Badrock, Arthur, ‘Hatch & Carpenter in England,’ VJM’s Vintage Jazz and Blues Mart No. 121 Spring, 2001 pp.4-8, http://vjm.biz/articles6.htm, accessed October 16, 2016.
- Rye, Howard, “Elliot Carpenter,” Names & Numbers 31, (2004): 3-7.
- Jasinski, Laurie, ed. The Handbook of Texas Music, (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2012), 680.
- Finkelman, Paul, and Wintz, Cary eds. Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance, (New York: Routledge, 2004), 245, 247.
- Plummer family. Jean Plummer, family archive. Los Angeles, CA, private communication to author, July 2006.
- American Federation of Musicians, Local 47, Los Angeles, CA, archivist private communication to author, August 2011.
- Fink, Robert, electronic private communication to author, Los Angeles, CA, University of California at Los Angeles, Department of Musicology, December 01, 2015.
- De Rosa, Carole, “Pianist Quiets the Crowds with Songs and Memories,” Asbury Park Evening Press, July 14, 1972, 9.
- Photograph of Paul Henreid and Elliot Carpenter with caption, uncredited, Los Angeles Times, part IV, 10-January-1972), IV:18.
- Carpenter, Elliot, Letter to Eubie Blake of 12-January-1972, Eubie Blake Collection. Baltimore MD, Maryland Historical Society, handwritten letter, accessed October 21, 2014.
- Letter to Eubie Blake, Elliot Carpenter Papers, 1922-1978, Index SC599, p10. New York. New York Public Library, Helen Armstead-Johnson Theater Collection, accessed October 2014.
- Francisco, Charles, You Must Remember This: The Filming of “Casablanca,” (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1980), 139.
- Lebo, Harlan, Casablanca: Behind The Scenes, (New York: Touchstone, 1992), 181.
- Miller, Frank, Casablanca: As Time Goes By: 50 th Anniversary Commemorative, (Atlanta: Turner Publishing, 1992), 137.
- Duchovnay, Gerald, Humphrey Bogart: A Bio-bibliography, (Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood Press, 1999), 178.
- Harmetz, Aljean, Round Up the Usual Suspects, (New York: Hyperion, 1992), 128, 201.
- Harmetz, Aljean, The Making of Casablanca, (New York: Hyperion, 1992), 128, 201.
- Editor’s Final Script, Casablanca file, 1881_F000773_DNA. Los Angeles: University of Southern California, School of Cinematic Arts, Warner Brothers Archives, accessed October 15, 2016.
- Casablanca, Burbank, CA: Warner Brothers, 2003, DVD 65681.
About the author
Robert E. Wallace, Ph.D. is a medical physicist by profession who has always had an interest film and other history as puzzles. He shares:
I came on this topic while qualifying Jean Plummer’s wife, Jeannie (who was the first Miss having Six Hits), for entry at the Motion Picture and Television Foundation “Country Home.” In order for my mother-in-law to retire there, I needed to compile a historical record of significant earning in film and television by her late husband Jean Vincent Plummer who I had never met. To do this, I inspected the record of his film and television pay that was provided by contract archivists at AFM Locals 7, 47, and 802. Much later, I realized that in them was information to investigate the topic of this paper. In my wife’s family, it had always been held that Jean had played the piano heard in the released film. This is written in his resume. In fact, when the LA Times published the picture of Henreid and Carpenter with the captioned claim in 1972, Jean sought out the other musicians from the film. No-one knows whether the printed caption was a correct paraphrase of what Elliot Carpenter had said when asked why he was at the screening. Jean just wanted his side heard. So, he tried to contact Wm. Ellfeldt who was both friend and the AFM contractor. In 1942, when he played in the film, Jean was 29 years old while the other musicians were older and well into their careers. In 1972 and the 1980’s, he found them all to be deceased or otherwise lost from the AFM Local 47 rolls. Jean passed in 1989 before others and Aljean Harmetz first published her book in 1992 perpetuating the 1972 claim. As I pursued this, there seemed a general consensus that the question of claims remained open and that this presented an opportunity to make a footnote to this film’s history. Finally, I have made every attempt to maintain impartiality and hope the reader agrees.
Celebrating 75 years of "Casablanca"
In 1943, &ldquoCasablanca&rdquo won three Academy Awards, including the Oscar for Best Picture. Today, 75 years after its release, the film is still considered a classic.
On Warner Bros. back lot in Burbank on May 25, 1942, the first day of shooting for the new film &ldquoCasablanca,&rdquo the production schedule called actors Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Dooley Wilson to the set at 9 a.m. to shoot a flashback scene set in Paris, where the romance between Rick and Ilsa began.
Seventy-five years later, the film has been screened more times in theaters and on television than any movie in history. At the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it&rsquos still shown every Valentine&rsquos Day.
&ldquoIt&rsquos the most romantic, wonderful movie in the world,&rdquo one woman said at the showing.
&ldquoCasablanca&rsquos&rdquo iconic moments remain part our cultural vocabulary.
Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in &ldquoCasablanca&rdquo
&ldquoPeople who have never even seen the movie, they quote the lines,&rdquo said Noah Isenberg, director of screen studies at the New School in New York. He&rsquos also the author of the book &ldquoWe&rsquoll Always Have Casablanca.&rdquo
&ldquoTo this day, it&rsquos probably the most widely taught screenplay in screenwriting courses. It&rsquos just extraordinary,&rdquo Isenberg said.
Released on Thanksgiving Day 1942, &ldquoCasablanca&rdquo was a wartime romance. But it was also a subtly political movie from Warner Bros., the same studio that had made the first overtly anti-Nazi film in 1939, &ldquoConfessions of a Nazi Spy.&rdquo Groucho Marx called Warners &ldquothe only studio with any guts.&rdquo
&ldquoWarners was in fact bucking an isolationist trend in the U.S.,&rdquo Mason said.
Noah Isenberg CBS News
&ldquoAbsolutely,&rdquo Isenberg said. &ldquoThere was fear within this very strong, vocal, isolationist faction in Congress that what was happening in Hollywood and specifically under the auspices of Warner Bros. was a threat to American peace.&rdquo
In &ldquoCasablanca,&rdquo Rick embodies that isolationism at first, even as fleeing refugees fill his Moroccan cafe. The scenes shot on Warners&rsquo back lot still feel strikingly urgent, perhaps because nearly all of the 75 actors in the film were immigrants themselves.
Peter Lorre from Hungary, Paul Henreid from Austria, and even Conrad Veidt, who plays the Gestapo major, had been a silent film star in Germany, but fled his home country with his Jewish wife.
&ldquoThe Jewish question is never addressed in the movie, but it&rsquos really kind of everywhere in the film,&rdquo Mason pointed out.
&ldquoIt&rsquos latent. It percolates like a number of other things. It percolates beneath the surface,&rdquo Isenberg said.
One of the few American-born actors in the film, Wilson plays Sam. The piano player in Rick&rsquos Cafe has no last name, but a pivotal role.
&ldquoIn his own way, Sam is also a very bold character for his time,&rdquo Mason said.
&ldquoAbsolutely,&rdquo Isenberg said. &ldquoRick&rsquos best friend, his travel companion, his confidant, and that was really, really extraordinary.&rdquo
Dooley Wilson (left) and Humphrey Bogart in &ldquoCasablanca&rdquo
In reviewing the film in 1943, The Amsterdam News, New York&rsquos African-American newspaper, said the movie &ldquois one every colored person should make it his business to see, since no picture has given as much sympathetic treatment and prominence to a negro character.&rdquo
As performed by Wilson, &ldquoAs Time Goes By&rdquo would become the film&rsquos most enduring torch song. In Johnny Depp&rsquos words, it is &ldquothe national anthem for brokenhearted lovers.&rdquo Sam&rsquos piano from Rick&rsquos Cafe sold at auction in 2014 for $3.4 million. Ironically, Wilson didn&rsquot actually play the piano.
Bogart, 42 when he took the part, was known for his tough guy characters. But &ldquoCasablanca&rdquo would transform him into a romantic lead and Warner Bros.&rsquo highest paid actor. For Bergman it was also a breakout role.
&ldquoBut off screen, Bergman and Bogart, they really didn&rsquot have much chemistry at all,&rdquo Isenberg said.
&ldquoI think Bergman often said, &lsquoI kissed him, but I never knew him,&rsquo&rdquo Mason said.
&ldquoThat&rsquos a famous, famous quote, and it&rsquos a wonderful one. I think it says a lot,&rdquo Isenberg said.
Writers Julius and Philip Epstein and Howard Koch won an Oscar for their screenplay. But they had some help.
&ldquo&rsquoHere&rsquos lookin&rsquo at you, kid&rsquo was not in the script?&rdquo Mason asked.
&ldquoNo,&rdquo Isenberg said. &ldquoAs far as we know that was a line that Bogart liked, perhaps one that he used even off screen. And to this day, it&rsquos attributable to him.&rdquo
Another memorable line was not in the original script. After shooting wrapped, producer Hal Wallis was unhappy with the ending. Three weeks later in a memo, Wallis wrote two alternative last lines.
&ldquoAnd he brought Bogart and Claude Rains back in to do voice-over in that last sequence we see in the film,&rdquo Isenberg said.
They would chose this one: &ldquoLouis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.&rdquo
&ldquoIt&rsquos one of the most famous lines in the history of motion pictures,&rdquo Isenberg said.
Trivia - CASABLANCA (1942)
CASABLANCA - Trivia and Other Fun Stuff
"As Time Goes By" didn't win an Oscar® for Best Song in 1943. It wasn't even eligible to be nominated since it wasn't an original work. It was actually a much older song, written for a 1931 Broadway show called Everybody's Welcome .
Casablanca may have been a city of corruption, political intrigue, and pickpockets, but compared to an earlier film Michael Curtiz directed in his native Hungary, the North African city is positively puritan. Directed in a style that recalled D.W. Griffith's Intolerance , Curtiz's Sodom and Gomorrah (1922) was a biblical story that detailed the avarice, lust and greed that eventually brought ruin onto the twin cities. While Casablanca isn't quite that decadent, Curtiz did show an early knack for sinful cities.
Conrad Veidt and Paul Henreid, far from being murderous adversaries, were actually the best of friends. Veidt had intervened on Henreid's behalf to prevent the Austrian refugee from being interned in Britain near the beginning of World War II. Veidt appeared in another milestone of world cinema as the somnambulist Cesare in the silent German film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919). He was also an exotic presence as the mysterious prince in The Indian Tomb (1921). After escaping Nazi Germany, Veidt settled into a Hollywood career doing his best to portray the Nazis in the worst possible light. Sadly, Veidt, whose performance as the villainous Major Strasser was completely different from his own character, died in April 1944, one month after Casablanca swept the Academy Awards®.
Notice some familiar faces from other films? Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, and Humphrey Bogart starred in The Maltese Falcon (1941). And Claude Rains and Paul Henreid had just completed Now, Voyager (1942) when they signed on for Casablanca .
How about that typo in the credits? Veteran character actor S.Z. Sakall, known to most people as "Cuddles" Sakall, is listed in the credits as "S.K. Sakall."
The opening montage sequence was created by Don Siegel, who went on to direct many important films himself, including Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and Dirty Harry (1971).
Yes, that's the great Marcel Dalio as the croupier. Dalio had been a great star in French cinema during the 1930s and appeared in two key films of the French poetic realism movement of the 1930s for director Jean Renoir, Grand Illusion (1937) and The Rules of the Game (1939).
The famous last line in the film is heard while Rick and Louis walk off into the fog. Since their backs were to the camera, the studio had more time to come up with a suitable closing line to their scene. Before producer Hal Wallis came up with the perfect line ("Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."), there were a few other possible lines considered:
"Louis, I begin to see a reason for your sudden attack of patriotism. While you defend your country, you also protect your investment."
"If you ever die a hero's death, Heaven protect the angels!"
"Louis, I might have known you'd mix your patriotism with a little larceny."
Another possible ending that was considered was to shoot a coda with Rick and Louis on a battleship taking the war to Hitler's front doorstep. Thankfully, the idea was scrapped when preview audiences responded enthusiastically to the airport-in-the-fog ending. Besides, a new ending would have required more time and money than their schedule allowed.
"Here's looking at you, kid," was originally written as "Here's good luck to you." Also, Bogart's line of resignation that he can't escape Ilsa was previously written as, "Of all the cafes in all the towns in the world, she walks into my cafe Both pieces of rephrasing are attributed to Bogart himself.
Bogart's final speech as he puts Ilsa on the airplane with Victor was allegedly written on the hood of a car at the studio. This legend is granted some merit by the fact that the Epsteins came up with Capt. Renault's famous line, "Round up the usual suspects," while driving to the studio to shoot the final scene.
There has been persistent confusion as to when Casablanca was actually released. The film premiered in New York City in November 1942, in what was called a pre-release engagement. This showing was rushed to theaters to capitalize on the recent events in North Africa, specifically the invasion of American troops into the real Casablanca. Because this kind of free publicity happens only once in a blue moon, Warner Bros. rushed Casablanca to just one theater in New York. But it was not seen by the rest of the country until early 1943, including Los Angeles. As luck would have it, the national release coincided with another Casablanca event, a summit meeting between President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin.
Casablanca was a big budget picture, produced at a final cost of $950,000. The initial $20,000 paid for the screen rights to an un-produced play called Everybody Comes to Rick's was a steal, especially when you consider that the picture turned in a tidy sum of $3,700,000 during the first year of release. However, the studio did not know before the national release what a gold mine they had on their hands. For the New York pre-release, Casablanc was advertised at the Hollywood Theater in Manhattan in a joint ad with Gentleman Jim (1942), an Errol Flynn movie about famed boxer Jim Corbett.
Famous Quotes from CASABLANCA
Captain Renault: What in heaven's name brought you to Casablanca?
Rick: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
Captain Renault: The waters? What waters? We're in the desert.
Rick: I was misinformed.
Rick: Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.
Ilsa: Kiss me. Kiss me as if it were the last time.
Rick: And remember, this gun is pointed right at your heart.
Captain Renault: That is my least vulnerable spot.
Captain Renault: I'm afraid Major Strasser would insist.
Ilsa: You're saying this only to make me go.
Rick: I'm saying it because it's true. Inside of us, we both know you belong with Victor. You're part of his work, the thing that keeps him going. If that plane leaves the ground and you're not with him, you'll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.
Ilsa: But what about us?
Rick: We'll always have Paris. We didn't have, we, we lost it until you came to Casablanca. We got it back last night.
Ilsa: When I said I would never leave you.
Rick: And you never will. But I've got a job to do, too. Where I'm going, you can't follow. What I've got to do, you can't be any part of. Ilsa, I'm no good at being noble, but it 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. Someday you'll understand that. Now, now. Here's looking at you kid.
Captain Renault: Major Strasser has been shot. Round up the usual suspects.
Rick: Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Rick: Last night we said a great many things. You said I was to do the thinking for both of us. Well, I've done a lot of it since then, and it all adds up to one thing: you're getting on that plane with Victor where you belong.
Ilsa: But, Richard, no, I. I.
Rick: Now, you've got to listen to me! You have any idea what you'd have to look forward to if you stayed here? Nine chances out of ten, we'd both wind up in a concentration camp. Isn't that true, Louie/
Ilsa: I wasn't sure you were the same. Let's see, the last time we met.
Rick: Was La Belle Aurora.
Ilsa: How nice, you remembered. But of course, that was the day the Germans marched into Paris.
Rick: Not an easy day to forget?
Rick: I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray, you wore blue.
Rick: Don't you sometimes wonder if it's worth all this? I mean what you're fighting for.
Victor Laszlo: You might as well question why we breathe. If we stop breathing, we'll die. If we stop fighting our enemies, the world will die.
Rick: Well, what of it? It'll be out of its misery.
Victor Laszlo: You know how you sound, Mr. Blaine? Like a man who's trying to convince himself of something he doesn't believe in his heart.
v Major Strasser: Are you one of those people who cannot imagine the Germans in their beloved Paris?
Rick: It's not particularly my beloved Paris.
Heinz: Can you imagine us in London?
Rick: When you get there, ask me!
Captain Renault: Hmmh! Diplomatist!
Major Strasser: How about New York?
Rick: Well there are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn't advise you to try to invade.
Captain Renault: Rick, there are many exit visas sold in this cafe, but we know that you've never sold one. That is the reason we permit you to remain open.
Rick: Oh? I thought it was because I let you win at roulette.
Captain Renault: That is another reason.
Ugarte: You despise me, don't you?
Rick: If I gave you any thought I probably would.
Captain Renault: Carl, see that Major Strasser gets a good table, one close to the ladies.
Carl: I have already given him the best, knowing he is German and would take it anyway.
Woman: What makes saloonkeepers so snobbish?
Banker: Perhaps if you told him I ran the second largest banking house in Amsterdam.
Carl: Second largest? That wouldn't impress Rick. The leading banker in Amsterdam is now the pastry chef in our kitchen.
Banker: We have something to look forward to.
Yvonne: Where were you last night?
Rick: That's so long ago, I don't remember.
Yvonne: Will I see you tonight?
Rick: I never make plans that far ahead.
Trivia - CASABLANCA (1942)
If we identify strongly with the characters in some movies, then it is no mystery that “Casablanca” is one of the most popular films ever made. It is about a man and a woman who are in love, and who sacrifice love for a higher purpose. This is immensely appealing the viewer is not only able to imagine winning the love of Humphrey Bogart or Ingrid Bergman, but unselfishly renouncing it, as a contribution to the great cause of defeating the Nazis.
No one making “Casablanca” thought they were making a great movie. It was simply another Warner Bros. release. It was an “A list” picture, to be sure (Bogart, Bergman and Paul Henreid were stars, and no better cast of supporting actors could have been assembled on the Warners lot than Peter Lorre, Sidney Greenstreet, Claude Rains and Dooley Wilson). But it was made on a tight budget and released with small expectations. Everyone involved in the film had been, and would be, in dozens of other films made under similar circumstances, and the greatness of “Casablanca” was largely the result of happy chance.
The screenplay was adapted from a play of no great consequence memoirs tell of scraps of dialogue jotted down and rushed over to the set. What must have helped is that the characters were firmly established in the minds of the writers, and they were characters so close to the screen personas of the actors that it was hard to write dialogue in the wrong tone.
Humphrey Bogart played strong heroic leads in his career, but he was usually better as the disappointed, wounded, resentful hero. Remember him in “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” convinced the others were plotting to steal his gold. In “Casablanca,” he plays Rick Blaine, the hard-drinking American running a nightclub in Casablanca when Morocco was a crossroads for spies, traitors, Nazis and the French Resistance.
The opening scenes dance with comedy the dialogue combines the cynical with the weary wisecracks with epigrams. We see that Rick moves easily in a corrupt world. “What is your nationality?” the German Strasser asks him, and he replies, “I'm a drunkard.” His personal code: “I stick my neck out for nobody.”
Then “of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.” It is Ilsa Lund (Bergman), the woman Rick loved years earlier in Paris. Under the shadow of the German occupation, he arranged their escape, and believes she abandoned him--left him waiting in the rain at a train station with their tickets to freedom. Now she is with Victor Laszlo (Henreid), a legendary hero of the French Resistance.
All this is handled with great economy in a handful of shots that still, after many viewings, have the power to move me emotionally as few scenes ever have. The bar's piano player, Sam (Wilson), a friend of theirs in Paris, is startled to see her. She asks him to play the song that she and Rick made their own, “As Time Goes By.” He is reluctant, but he does, and Rick comes striding angrily out of the back room (“I thought I told you never to play that song!”). Then he sees Ilsa, a dramatic musical chord marks their closeups, and the scene plays out in resentment, regret and the memory of a love that was real. (This scene is not as strong on a first viewing as on subsequent viewings, because the first time you see the movie you don't yet know the story of Rick and Ilsa in Paris indeed, the more you see it the more the whole film gains resonance.)
The plot, a trifle to hang the emotions on, involves letters of passage that will allow two people to leave Casablanca for Portugal and freedom. Rick obtained the letters from the wheedling little black-marketeer Ugarte (Peter Lorre). The sudden reappearance of Ilsa reopens all of his old wounds, and breaks his carefully cultivated veneer of neutrality and indifference. When he hears her story, he realizes she has always loved him. But now she is with Laszlo. Rick wants to use the letters to escape with Ilsa, but then, in a sustained sequence that combines suspense, romance and comedy as they have rarely been brought together on the screen, he contrives a situation in which Ilsa and Laszlo escape together, while he and his friend the police chief (Claude Rains) get away with murder. (“Round up the usual suspects.”)
What is intriguing is that none of the major characters is bad. Some are cynical, some lie, some kill, but all are redeemed. If you think it was easy for Rick to renounce his love for Ilsa--to place a higher value on Laszlo's fight against Nazism--remember Forster's famous comment, “If I were forced to choose between my country and my friend, I hope I would be brave enough to choose my friend.”
From a modern perspective, the film reveals interesting assumptions. Ilsa Lund's role is basically that of a lover and helpmate to a great man the movie's real question is, which great man should she be sleeping with? There is actually no reason why Laszlo cannot get on the plane alone, leaving Ilsa in Casablanca with Rick, and indeed that is one of the endings that was briefly considered. But that would be all wrong the “happy” ending would be tarnished by self-interest, while the ending we have allows Rick to be larger, to approach nobility (“it 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”). And it allows us, vicariously experiencing all of these things in the theater, to warm in the glow of his heroism.
In her closeups during this scene, Bergman's face reflects confusing emotions. And well she might have been confused, since neither she nor anyone else on the film knew for sure until the final day who would get on the plane. Bergman played the whole movie without knowing how it would end, and this had the subtle effect of making all of her scenes more emotionally convincing she could not tilt in the direction she knew the wind was blowing.
Stylistically, the film is not so much brilliant as absolutely sound, rock-solid in its use of Hollywood studio craftsmanship. The director, Michael Curtiz, and the writers (Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch) all won Oscars. One of their key contributions was to show us that Rick, Ilsa and the others lived in a complex time and place. The richness of the supporting characters (Greenstreet as the corrupt club owner, Lorre as the sniveling cheat, Rains as the subtly homosexual police chief and minor characters like the young girl who will do anything to help her husband) set the moral stage for the decisions of the major characters. When this plot was remade in 1990 as “Havana,” Hollywood practices required all the big scenes to feature the big stars (Robert Redford and Lena Olin) and the film suffered as a result out of context, they were more lovers than heroes.
Seeing the film over and over again, year after year, I find it never grows over-familiar. It plays like a favorite musical album the more I know it, the more I like it. The black-and-white cinematography has not aged as color would. The dialogue is so spare and cynical it has not grown old-fashioned. Much of the emotional effect of “Casablanca” is achieved by indirection as we leave the theater, we are absolutely convinced that the only thing keeping the world from going crazy is that the problems of three little people do after all amount to more than a hill of beans.
Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.
Casablanca (1943): Cultural Impact of Oscar Winner
Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca, the 1943 Best Picture Oscar, still is one of the most influential movies in American film history.
To begin with, at a crucial moment in American history, “Casablanca” impacted our perception of intervention in the Second World War, and of intervention in foreign affairs in general. “Casablanca” helped to start a trend which continued in such events as the Gulf War, where America intervenes in difficult world situations. No longer could America stand idly by and permit undemocratic evil to overtake the earth. This was the message of Casablanca in late 1942. It was time for America to flex its muscles and enter the fight. America was to become the reticent guardian of the whole world.
The film opened at New York City’s Hollywood Theater on Thanksgiving Day, 1942. This was just 18 days after the Allied Forces had landed at Casablanca. Moreover, Casablanca’s general release date was January 23, 1943, which was in the very midst of the Casablanca conference of the Allied Powers. In other words, the release schedule of Casablanca happened to be very timely, to say the least.
To explain further, the zeitgeist in America at that time, related to the War, was centered around the idea of personal commitment. In a political sense, this feeling corresponded to America’s commitment to the global political scene. We can say that Casablanca tapped into the mood of the times when released, because the film was about the making of personal commitments as the entrance of politics into individual lives occurred.
In 1942-1943, Americans were toying with the same issues of personal commitment about the War that the characters in Casablanca confront. One of Humphrey Bogart’s famous lines in the film was “I bet they’re asleep in New York–I bet they’re asleep all over America.” This line received a lot of attention in 1943. Casablanca served an important function in waking up Americans, not just to the advantages of international intervention at that time, but to an entire new era in which, as Robert B. Ray notes, intervention would become the accepted norm.
Due to Casablanca’s timely embrace of the War issues, the film achieved victory in its own war: the Academy Awards war. Out of its eight nominations, Casablanca won Best Picture (the main competition was Lubitsch’s The More the Merrier), best screenplay and best director. This is evidence of how expertly the film played off of the times and was, in fact, instrumental in transforming the time. Humphrey Bogart lost out to Paul Lukas’s performance in Watch for the Best Actor award, but of course it is now Bogart’s performance that is remembered. In 1977, when the American Film Institute asked its members to select the ten Best American films of all time, Casablanca finished third behind Gone with the Wind and Citizen Kane.
In retrospect, it is easy to forget that Casablanca created a new kind of hero, in Bogart’s influential role. Bogart’s Rick was Hollywood’s first rebel hero. He comes from outside the normal world, and he is a liberating figure. This role is the most innovative thing about Casablanca. Rick certainly became one of the most-loved heroes in the history of the movies, because he was the first of his kind. Considering the enduring popularity of this character, Rick was not only the prototype for a new kind of Hollywood hero, but also the prototype for a new kind of American.
The combination of the performances of Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in “Casablanca” should be the very definition of film chemistry. Ingrid Bergman helped create the film’s mystique. James Card writes, “At age twelve I was deeply impressed by Ingrid Bergman, walking towards an airplane on a misty runway, the tears on her face just glimpsed beneath the large hat that shadowed her face.”
Originally Ann Sheridan, Ronald Reagan and Dennis Morgan were signed on to play the respective Bergman, Bogart and Henried roles. This alternate cast looks like a disaster from today’s vantage point. The world would have to have been a noticeably different place today without Bogart as Rick in Casablanca, and the rest of Casablanca’s cast.
But what was Casablanca’s general effect in the 1960s Or, what did Casablanca have to do with the 1960s Casablanca is a fundamental American film. In light of recent history it is important for us to see how the counter-culture movement (which used films like Casablanca as road maps), although attacking the American establishment, was primarily a revolt tied to long-held American beliefs.
The characters of Casablanca, like the young Americans of the 1960s who spear-headed the protest movement, are “real Americans” lost in a unfriendly locale, fighting to open up a new reality. The enduring appeal of Casablanca, through the 1960s and up to the present, rests on the melding of various thematic elements: colorful, eccentric characters involved in a risque love story an exotic, foreign locale melodramatic political incidents tough, cynical and humorous repartee sentimental, idealistic interludes (virtual speeches) heroic, selfless commitment to a cause, etc.
In these thematic elements we can see many connections to what would become the American counter-culture movement, including the emphasis on individualism, suggestions of a sexual awakening, the escape offered by drug usage (exotic places), the drama of 1960s politics, a new kind of humor that was critical and smart about American traditions, the simplification of idealism, and the tuning out of the old world. From this perspective, Casablanca’s renewed popularity in the 1960s becomes logical. The line “I bet they’re asleep all over America” obviously took on a new meaning to the counter-culture movement.
Although the film is as racist, sexist, and patriotic as almost any film of the 1940s, it was nevertheless embraced by college students in the 1960s as an expression of their nonconformity. Casablanca’s message to the youth of the 1960s was that there was a secret stamp of approval for rebelliousness, hidden somewhere in American history. In reality, however, this message of Casablanca turned on itself for the youth of the 1960s.
The language of Casablanca became a part of American language, now having a permanent influence. Many of the great lines in the film still garner applause from audiences. The toughness combined with sentimentality that is the crux of Casablanca’s many great lines, even today informs the oratories of many top American politicians, including recent presidents.
For instance, the famous, famous line “Play it again, Sam”–just in this small grouping of words, we can see a microcosm of what Casablanca is all about. The film is a meeting point between America’s search for machismo and America’s “kinder, gentler,” softness that always looks fondly to the past.
And what can we say of Bogart’s final appeal to Ingrid Bergman: “We’ll always have Paris. The problems of three people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.” Sentimental words beyond belief, yet delivered with the stiffest of upper lips. Another favorite line was “Round up the usual suspects.” Another was “Here’s looking at you, kid.” The song “As Time Goes By” also achieved a special place in American culture. The longevity of the film’s popularity can also be traced to its words. People have gone to see “Casablanca” again and again, and will continue to do so, specifically to hear their favorite lines.
One of the most-quoted lines from Casablanca, "Here's looking at you, kid," is one that Humphrey Bogart ad-libbed during the flashback scenes of Rick and Ilsa falling in love in Paris. Rick speaks it later in the movie to bid Ilsa farewell and the odd, unsentimental phrase has come to be one of the most romantic lines in movie history.
The Casablanca Conference, 1943
The Casablanca Conference was a meeting between U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the city of Casablanca, Morocco that took place from January 14–24, 1943. While Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin received an invitation, he was unable to attend because the Red Army was engaged in a major offensive against the German Army at the time. The most notable developments at the Conference were the finalization of Allied strategic plans against the Axis powers in 1943, and the promulgation of the policy of “unconditional surrender.”
The Casablanca Conference took place just two months after the Anglo-American landings in French North Africa in November 1942. At this meeting, Roosevelt and Churchill focused on coordinating Allied military strategy against the Axis powers over the course of the coming year. They resolved to concentrate their efforts against Germany in the hopes of drawing German forces away from the Eastern Front, and to increase shipments of supplies to the Soviet Union. While they would begin concentrating forces in England in preparation for an eventual landing in northern France, they decided that first they would concentrate their efforts in the Mediterranean by launching an invasion of Sicily and the Italian mainland designed to knock Italy out of the war. They also agreed to strengthen their strategic bombing campaign against Germany. Finally, the leaders agreed on a military effort to eject Japan from Papua New Guinea and to open up new supply lines to China through Japanese-occupied Burma.
On the final day of the Conference, President Roosevelt announced that he and Churchill had decided that the only way to ensure postwar peace was to adopt a policy of unconditional surrender. The President clearly stated, however, that the policy of unconditional surrender did not entail the destruction of the populations of the Axis powers but rather, “the destruction of the philosophies in those countries which are based on conquest and the subjugation of other people.”
The policy of demanding unconditional surrender was an outgrowth of Allied war aims, most notably the Atlantic Charter of August 1941, which called for an end to wars of aggression and the promotion of disarmament and collective security. Roosevelt wanted to avoid the situation that had followed the First World War, when large segments of German society supported the position, so deftly exploited by the Nazi party, that Germany had not been defeated militarily, but rather, had been “stabbed in the back” by liberals, pacifists, socialists, communists, and Jews. Roosevelt also wished to make it clear that neither the United States nor Great Britain would seek a separate peace with the Axis powers.