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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Casablanca Date Night

annies012911Grenville and I went on a date last night to what has become our favorite local restaurant, Annie’s. There are not a lot of choices for dining in our area on the VA eastern shore; Annie’s is  our favorite place. It was also the inauguration of a new feature – dinner and a movie – last night’s film was Casablanca.casablanca poster

A bit more about the movie later in this post – in fact LOTS more – but onto more tasty things, like our dinners. We started off with an appetizer of Doc’s Crab Dip, followed by Beatrice’s dinner of Bowtie Pasta with shrimp in vodka sauce, and Grenville’s dinner of Blackened Tuna. Everything was delicious. Sorry we can’t give a taste sample through the blog, but we took photos of our dinners. dinner collage012911It’s important to mention that we passed on dessert and instead munched on popcorn provided when the movie started. Grenville was thinking about the chocolate cake with buttercream frosting, but he lost a few pounds this week and was reluctant (very) to find them again.
It's still the same old story
A fight for love and glory
A case of do or die.
The world will always welcome lovers
As time goes by.
OK, back to the movie. Here’s a quick summary: Guy loves girl, loses her, sees her again with her husband, reunites with former love, send her off with husband, most likely never to see her again.
bogart-bergman collage
WHAT too short? OK more details:  Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), American expatriate and former freedom fighter, runs a Casablanca nightclub (Rick's Café Americain) in the early part of WWII.  This is a haven for refugees looking to purchase illicit letters of transit to get to America. One day, Rick is approached by a well-known (to the Germans) resistance fighter, Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) and his wife, Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman). She was Rick's true love who deserted him when the Nazis invaded Paris. She wants Victor to escape to America and continue the fight against Fascism, but now that she's renewed her love for Rick, she wants to stay behind in Casablanca and tells him, “You must do the thinking for both of us.”

Although it was an A-list film with established stars and first-rate screen writers (Julius and Philip Epstein and Howard Koch), those involved with  the film didn’t expect that it was anything special. It was one of dozens of pictures produced yearly by Hollywood. 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.
The characters, dialogue, and music have become so well known that Casablanca consistently ranks near the top of lists of the greatest films of all time.
casablanca collage
It was rushed into general release almost three weeks after the Allied landing at the North African city of Casablanca, when Eisenhower's forces marched into the African city. When the film opened, Warner Brothers Studio was able to capitalize on the free publicity and the nation's familiarity with the city’s name. The film’s cost of $950,000 was slightly over budget but an average cost for a film at the time. The box office receipts were more than $4 million.
  • Shooting began on May 25, 1942 and completed on August 3, 1942. It had a limited premiere was in 1942, but did not play nationally, or in Los Angeles, until 1943.
  • The film was based on the unproduced play Everybody Comesalgiers poster to Rick’s. The rights were bought for $20,000; it was renamed, possibly in imitation of the 1938 movie hit Algiers.
  • Screenwriters wrote the script as they went along barely keeping ahead of production; no one knew how it would end.
  • Casablanca was shot almost entirely on sound stages and in the Warner Brothers studio lot, except for the sequence showing the arrival of German Major Strasser which was filmed at Van Nuys Airport.
  • The street used for the exterior shots had been built for another film, The Desert Song, and was redecorated and used for the Paris flashbacks. It remained on the Warner backlot until the 1960s when it was dismantled.
  • The final scene had midget extras as aircraft personnel walking around a model cardboard plane, used because of budgetary constraints. The fog in the scene was used to mask the unconvincing appearance of the plane.
  • Ingrid Bergman was 5’ 9” compared to Bogart’s 5’ 7”. In their scenes together, he sometimes stood on boxes. Bergman was shot mainly from her preferred left side with a softening gauze filter and catch lights to make her eyes sparkle.
  • The cinematographer was Arthur Edeson, who had previously shot The Maltese Falcon which also starred Bogart.
  • The score was written by Max Steiner, who also scored Gone With the Wind. The song As Time Goes By  written by Herman Hupfield was in in the original play. Steiner wanted to replace it with his own song, but couldn’t as Bergman who had cut her hair for her next role,  couldn’t re-shoot scenes which mentioned the song.
  • One of the most quoted exit lines in movie history and the last line in the film (spoken on a fog-shrouded runway) wasn’t recorded until three weeks after shooting ended and was contributed by producer Hal Wallis. Bogart was called in to dub: "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." 
  • Humphrey Bogart played the lead male part in his first romantic lead. It was his first and last performance with Bergman. Bogart became a star after his role in the film.
  • The role of the pianist Sam was played by “Dooley” Wilson, a drummer, who did not play piano. The role was originally to be done by a female lead (Hazel Scott, Lena Horne, or Ella Fitzgerald). Producer Wallis considered replacing Dooley’s voice on the songs, but changed his mind.
  • Paul Henreid, an Austrian actor who had fled Nazi Germany in 1935, played resistance fighter Victor Laszlo and was reportedly reluctant to take the role until promised top-billing with Bogart and Bergman.
  • Many other 40s stars were considered for leads: Hedy Lamarr, Ann Sheridan, French actress Michele Morgan, and George Raft. Ronald Reagan was never considered to play Rick; he was due to enter the army by the time of filming.
  • No one in the film ever says: “Play it again, Sam,” in reference to Rick and Ilsa’s song, “As Time Goes By.” Both Rick and Ilsa ask Sam to play the song, but not in those words.
  • The Casablanca movie poster was designed by Bill Gold, who  was 21 and a recent graduate in illustration and design from the Pratt Institute in New York when he was hired in the advertising department of Warner Bros. in NYC.
The 1942 movie review by New York Times film critic Bosley Crother makes for some interesting reading in tune with the time period in which in was written.
  • Casablanca won three Oscars: Best Picture (producer Hal B. Wallis), Best Director (Michael Curtiz), Best Screenplay ( Julius and Philip Epstein and Howard Koch).
  • It was considered for 8 Academy Awards, including Best Actor (Humphrey Bogart), Best Supporting Actor (Claude Rains), Best B/W Cinematography (Arthur Edeson known for The Maltese Falcon), Best Score (Max Steiner known for Gone With the Wind), and Best Film Editing (Owen Marks).
  • Bogart lost to Paul Lukas who won for Watch on the Rhine. Bergman wasn't even nominated for this film, but for Best Actress in For Whom The Bell Tolls; she lost to Jennifer Jones in The Song of Bernadette. NOTE: All the film images shown in this post (except the movie posters) were shot last night at the viewing.
casablanca poster1casablanca poster2

9 comments:

Linda (PA_shutterbug) said...

Dinner and a movie is a classic way to spend date night. Traditionally, you leave the restaurant after dinner and go to the movie theater. Annie's provides a new way to enjoy dinner and a movie. Your seafood dinners sound and look delicious. My husband and I enjoyed a seafood dinner this weekend as well. We ate lunch at Red Lobster and took advantage of its $29.99 Seafood Dinner for Two special.

Anvilcloud said...

Here;s looking at you.

diane b said...

Thats a bargain.

martymom said...

Thank you for such an informative side of this movie. I enjoyed it very much. Just goes to show you that, "your eyes see what it wants to see". Great idea of the fog to disguise the cardboard plan. I do not think anyone who saw the movie at that time questioned the authenticity. I enjoyed your preview very much. Love, Martymom

Out on the prairie said...

I like the posters, classic film . I have seen it a number of times and got the talk done good for Bogey.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Hi Linda, yes it was very nice not to have to leave the resurant to see the film. Truth is there's only 1 movie theatre in this area and its only open weekends!

Yes, Diane it was a bargain cause we enjoy eating dinner at Annie's even without a movie showing.

AC, and the same to you!

Hi Marty, I got a bit carried away on this post but was having so much fun learning about the movie and wanted to share .

Thanks Steve, the classic posters are so much better than those of today. Back then, real artists composed the posters, not someone working on a computer like now. TOnight we hope to view the Maltese Falcon at home.

L. D. Burgus said...

A lot of great info and wow you did make me very hungry.

Elaine said...

What a fun night you had! Interesting facts about the making of the movie. That's always a story in itself, and they did things a lot different back then.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Hi Larry, I did get a bit carried away after reading about this film. The way they did special effects years ago was much more creative and inventive than currently because they didn't have computers to help. I liked it better the "old" ways.

Glad you enjoyed it Elaine!

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