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Monday, November 26, 2012

Casablanca premiered 70 years ago today

You must remember this,
A kiss is still a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh.
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by.

And when two lovers woo,
They still say, "I love you," on that you can rely,
No matter what the future brings
As time goes by.
- Herman Hupfeld (1894-1951) ("As Time Goes By")*

Play it Sam. Play "As Time Goes By."**
- Julius J. and Philip G. Epstein, and Howard Koch (film script for Casablanca, Ilsa to Sam)

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

I'm shocked... shocked! to find that gambling is going on in here!
- Ibid., Captain Renault to Rick

Here's looking at you, kid.
- Ibid., Rick to Ilsa

We'll always have Paris.
- Ibid., Rick to Ilsa

...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.
- Ibid., Rick to Ilsa

Major Strasser has been shot! Round up the usual suspects.
- Ibid., Captain Renault to his police

Today is the 70th anniversary of the premiere showing of that 1942 film icon, Casablanca, at the Hollywood Theater in New York City on 26 November of that year. Based on a play, Everybody Comes to Rick's, by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison, Casablanca was produced by Hal Wallis and directed by Michael Curtiz. The cast included Humphrey Bogart (Rick), Ingrid Bergman (Ilsa), Paul Henreid (Victor Laszlo), Claude Rains (Captain Renault), and Dooley Wilson (Sam), with smaller parts by Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Conrad Veidt. The film was scored by Max Steiner, who also wrote the music for Gone With the Wind, and his scoring incorporates fragments of both the Marseillaise and "As Time Goes By" as recurring leitmotifs. Set early in World War II in Casablanca, Morocco - then controlled by the Vichy French government after the fall of France - the plot revolves around an expatriate American saloon keeper (Bogart) whose lost lover (Bergman) shows up in Casablanca with her husband, a celebrated Resistance fighter attempting to escape from Nazi-occupied Europe (Henreid). A German officer (Veidt) arrives to thwart this attempt, counting on the aid of the corrupt local Vichy police prefect (Rains). Ultimately, the outcome turns on Bogart and Bergman sacrificing their love for the Allied cause - which Rains ultimately joins also. With excellent characterizations, often stunning cinematography - the softening of focus on Bergman's lovely face during close-ups, for example - high melodrama, and many elements of film noir, Casablanca makes everybody's list of the two or three greatest films ever made. In the final scene, Bogart delivers the last of its great "signature" lines (to Captain Renault):

"Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

* N.B. "As Time Goes By" was originally written for the 1931 Broadway musical Everybody's Welcome. It remains famous today largely because of its part in the film, Casablanca.

** The more familiar "Play it again, Sam." is a well-known misquotation.

Note also that an excellent article on the film is available on Wikipedia.

The "Play it Sam" scene, highlighting Bergman's luminosity:

And the very end of the film. (Note the recurring motif of the "Marseillaise"
in the background - following a whiff of "Deutschland Über Alles."):

Taken from Ed's Quotation of the Day, only available via email. If you'd like to be added to his list, leave your email address in the comments.

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