For Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart time has come to a standstill. We always view and remember them in that final, excruciatingly romantic adieu. The film “Casablanca”, shot entirely in a backlot of Warner Brothers and that made its debut in the middle of World War II, turns 75 years old now. It was released on November 26th 1942 in the Hollywood Theatre and later won three Academy Oscars: best picture, best director and best screenplay.The sudden success of this melodrama surprised its producers and continues up to this day, as younger generations are bedazzled by its romanticism.
In “Everybody’s comes to Rick’s”, the theatre play that inspired the movie, Rick Blaine was a successful lawyer with a wife and children that decided to give everything up to open a gaming operation in Casablanca. Ilsa Lund, his lover, follows him to that city in order to continue their hot affair. Initially the producers wanted Ronald Reagan to play the central character. The character of Sam was supposed to be played by Ella Fitzgerald or Lena Horne, not a man who did not even know how to play the famous piano.
Ingrid Bergman complained several times to Michael Curtiz, the director, that Humphrey Bogart was not putting enough passion in the love scenes; the actor had a good reason to hold off, as his wife Mayo Methot was jealous. Well into the filming process the producers and director did not know how to end the movie. Will Ilsa and Rick come together? Will they separate? They re-wrote that scene many times until they found a credible way; the actors received the final script just a few hours before the shooting.
The famous line at the end of the movie—“I believe that this is the beginning of a great friendship”—was added in the post-production stage and Humphrey Bogart was expressly summoned to register it with his voice. There was a scandal in the Oscar awards ceremony when Jack Warner, the harsh head of the studio, sprinted out of his seat to receive the statue while Hal Wallis, the producer and rightful recipient of it, was blocked in his seat. When Humphrey Bogart stepped out of the car with his wife at the ceremony the crowd surged forward and was contained by a phalanx of police officers, The admirers clapped wildly and shouted: “here’s looking at you, kid.”
In this “modern” age of unbridled input of visual and auditory stimuli that literally overwhelm our capacity to process so much information in a hurry, a little slowing down to properly appreciate this masterpiece, affectionately cuddling with some good company and the drink of our choice, is a welcome alternative for a rainy weekend afternoon. A little romanticism can soothe our hearts and recharge our spirits for the long term survival.
What do you think? Please tell us.
Don’t leave me alone.