Casablanca is probably my favourite film, although I also have many other movies that I watch whenever the opportunity arises. The Great Dictator, written, directed and starring Charlie Chaplin, who in my opinion is the most brilliant star to come out of Hollywood, although of course he was born in London, England. West Side Story and Chicago are two of my favourite musicals. But Casablanca is a Love Story and no matter how soppy some Love Stories are, I often find my eyes tearing up. The initial release of the film was timed to coincide with the American invasion of North Africa (Operation Torch) the subsequent public release coincided with the meeting between Roosevelt and Churchill in Casablanca in January 1943.
I suppose I’m a romantic at heart because when I write, many of my stories contain a Love element. My eclectic anthology consists of twenty-four short stories which I titled Just for Fun, available on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and other retailers, there are at least eight Love Stories.
Casablanca is unique film of its time and reflects the history of the day. The film is the ideal of self-sacrifice. The original script was an unproduced play, Everybody Comes to Rick’s by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison, both Jewish, who were married at the time they wrote the play. The number of Jews and refugees from the Nazis fits neatly into the film’s plot.
Burnett had travelled to Vienna in 1938 to help his Jewish family escape the Nazis. He then travelled to the Mediterranean Coast of France where he frequented a bar with a black jazz pianist. He never actually went to Casablanca.
Hall Wallis (Aaron Blum Wolowicz) a film producer bought the rights for the film. The film was directed by Michael Curtiz (Manó Kaminer) who was born in Budapest, then in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The screenplay was written by the Epstein brothers, Julius and Philip and Howard Koch.
The iconic song of the movie ‘As Time Goes By’ was written in 1931 by Herman Hupfeld who was of non-Jewish German descent.
The other music was composed by Max Steiner also born in Vienna, but who left before the First World War.
Arthur “Dooley” Wilson born in Texas, who plays ‘Sam’ was not a pianist, but a singer and a drummer. The music was dubbed and played off screen by pianist Elliot Carpenter.
The main characters are Rick Blaine, played by Humphrey Bogart, Ilsa Lund, played by Ingrid Bergman and Victor Laszlo played by Paul Henreid whose father had been born Jewish and converted to Roman Catholicism.
Only three of the credited actors were American born, Bogart, Wilson and Joy Page who played the Bulgarian refugee.
Konrad Weidt was a non-Jewish German, strongly anti-Nazi whose third wife was Jewish. He played Major Strasser in the film.
Many of the minor actors and extras in the night club scenes were themselves Jewish refugees from Europe. During what came to be known as the ‘duel of the anthems’ between Major Strasser and Viktor Laszlo many of the actors and extras cried as they realized the reality of their own status as exiles.
One of the main myths of the film is that Ilsa (Bergman) says ‘play it again Sam’ which is the name of the 1972 Woody Allen film. What she actually says is, “Play it once, Sam, for old times' sake." After he feigns ignorance, she responds, "Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By'."
My new novella, Regan – a Love Story will soon be available to pre-order from Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and iBooks. Only $ 0.99
My dear friend and well-known South African artist Shirley Israel is in the final process of painting the cover illustration.