Golden Age of Hollywood Book Club discussion

Hob Nob > the 'Casablanca' thread

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message 1: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
For all things ' Casablanca '!

message 2: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2200 comments This kinda' says it all.

message 3: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Nooo. Lots more to comment on. That's why this thread!

For instance, we chatted last week about Conrad Veidt.

And Claude Rains caused controversy which exists yet to this day when he casually remarked, "it was a routine film just like any other being made that year, no one thought very much about it at the time...!"

message 4: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Siskel & Ebert ruminated once that no modern actor except Jack Nicholson could probably have done justice to the role of Rick

message 5: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
my favorite bit of dialogue, might just be ...

...Rick's candidly informing Ugarte that he 'probably would despise him, if he ever gave him any thought' to which Ugarte vows that someday Rick will alter his view. Later (when Ugarte has inadvertently revealed that he has personally slain two couriers) Rick updates his earlier statement: "You're right Ugarte, I do think a little more of you now." Meaning: his loathing for the man has assumed actual form.

I used to feel that 'Rick's sitting down at the table with the Germans to drink' or Rick's 'witty exchanges with Louie' were the tops. But lately I've come to think that the open disgust Rick announces to Ugarte --right to the man's face --is better than all three-or-four of those other interplays. How Rick treats Ugarte, is just scathing! I love it

message 6: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2200 comments I would hate to guess how many times I have seen this film and can practically recite the dialogue. Several years ago I bought the script which was released in book format and it is somewhere on my endless bookshelves. I need to look for it. They were revising scripts up until the very end of filming.

It is rumored that Paul Henreid was not happy with the credits and got his way by having his name, along with Bogart and Bergman above the title, at least on the movie advertisements and posters.

message 7: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Aye and Henreid unhappily, always felt typecast after this flick.

message 8: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2022 comments That's interesting because he also made 'Now, Voyager' that year with the famous 'cigarette' scene.

message 9: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2022 comments As I have said I like 'Casablanca', except for Ilsa. In fact I turn the volume down when she comes on.

message 10: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Is it because of her scandal with Rossellini?

message 11: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Supposedly, Dooley Wilson couldn't even play piano...

message 12: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2022 comments It has nothing to do with Ingrid Bergman's private life. I don't like Ilsa Lund, and I think her character used two men.

message 13: by Jill (last edited Jan 10, 2020 07:08PM) (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2200 comments Dooley Wilson could not play the piano but he was such a good match for the character of Sam, that they went with him. Glad they did.

We did have a discussion about the character Ilsa on another of the topics and you made some good points, Betsy. I might have been on "favorite actresses".

That cigarette scene in Now Voyager has certainly become a classic. I think he might have been a little hard to get along with and felt that he should share the acting honors with Bogie and Bergman. But the scene stealer was Claude Rains!!!

message 14: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2022 comments I certainly agree about Claude Rains. He was a fine actor and could easily steal a scene.

message 15: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (last edited Jan 11, 2020 07:51AM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
In the '60s and '70s when local TV stations ran classic films after prime-time hours, (& after Carson was off) on slots allocated for 'The Late Movie' or 'The Late-Late-Movie' you'd occasionally have situations where a dopey young technician would trim and cut a historic film for commercial breaks. Or, to fit the 'allowable time-slot' as determined by the station programmers. One such night --somewhere in Ohio or Pennsylvania --an entry-level film editor snipped out 'As Time Goes By' for just this reason. The next day, angry phone calls poured in and the twerp was bewildered. "What's the big deal? It's just a song." he shrugged.

message 16: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2200 comments I would have stormed the tv station. What a dope!

message 17: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
I love the expression on Rick's face when he casually steps out of the casino room to hear Sam playing the one song in the world he least wants to hear. He can't hardly believe his ears. His face shows pain, incredulity, and consternation. Rick stomps over to Sam, boiling mad. Biting out each word.

"Sam, I thought I told you never to play tha--"

message 18: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2200 comments And he never said "Play it again, Sam". It was more like this " You played it for her, you can play it for me. Play it" but that was after the club had closed for the night and Rick was drinking at the table alone.

message 19: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2200 comments Here's a little bit of trivia. Madeleine Lebeau who played the young woman consorting with the Germans at the bar and who later cried as she joined in the singing of the Marseillaise and Marcel Dalio, who played the croupier in Rick's casino were in the middle of a very nasty divorce during the making of the film. It did not help the atmosphere on the set much but I don't think she played in any scenes with Dalio.

message 20: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
You don't mean the very pretty girl whom Rick was treating so callously in the early part of the story; the one whom the puppy-dog bartender was so eager to chaperone home for Rick?

What I recall about the Marsellaise scene is that on this film set, many of the cast and crew were actual European expatriates. When that song cue came on, you better believe they sang with heart; and weeping real tears. They belted it out with fervor. Their homeland was occupied by le Bosch at the time the picture was shot.

message 21: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2200 comments That's the girl.

message 22: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2200 comments For those younger viewers who really didn't know much about the occupation of France and the government of Vichy, one of the scenes would not have made an impression. It is at the airport when Claude Rains picks up the bottle of Vichy water and throws it in the trash. And off he and Rick go to Brazzaville to join the Free French. It is a nice touch.

message 23: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Rick came to Casablanca in the first place, 'for the waters'

message 24: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2200 comments He was "misinformed". Good one, Feliks.

message 25: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod

It might be my #1 favorite line which is "lift-able" from the film. I've used it in pub after pub.

Also: "I never make plans that far in advance" (if asked 'what I am doing this evening')

message 26: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2200 comments :>)

message 27: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
"...Rick, you over-estimate these Germans. In Casablanca, I am master of my fate! I am my own man! I --" (Louie Renault)

message 28: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2022 comments TCM is showing Casablanca tonight. Be sure to notice the airport scene at the end. It was filmed at the Van Nuys airport.

message 29: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod

message 30: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2200 comments Isn't part of that scene comprised of back screen shots too.

message 31: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Bogart in that white tux looks like no one else who ever wore one

message 32: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2200 comments Yummy. He wasn't even good looking but he had that certain something that was soooooo attractive.

message 33: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2022 comments He was unique. Even the stuffy Rose from 'African Queen' fell for him. That was another movie which changed the book ending, I believe.

message 34: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2200 comments The timing of the film's release (1943) was a stroke of luck as well. FDR and Churchill were meeting for the Casablanca Conference to decide strategy for the invasion of mainland Europe and that made the setting more familiar to the film goers or at least they knew it was in Morocco and under Vichy (German) control. Hence the Vichy water scene at the airport.

Another character, played by the great Sidney Greenstreet, was Ferarri, the owner of The Blue Parrot, who took over Rick's when Rick and Louis left for Brazzaville.He seemed somewhat jolly but you knew that he couldn't be trusted as far as you could throw him.....and that wasn't very far based on his size. I can't believe that Rick's did as well, even though Ferarri kept Sam and the other regulars. It was Rick, the mysterious American, who was the draw

message 35: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2022 comments Good points, Jill, but perhaps Ferarri was just as glad not to have so much competition from Rick's. I suspect most of his real money came from his illegal activities anyway.

message 36: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2200 comments You are probably right, Betsy. He was a bit of a crook and I would go to the Blue Parrot just to see Greenstreet in a fez!!

message 37: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
I've often considered a fez for Hallow'een or else an authentic Pith helmet

message 38: by Spencer (new)

Spencer Rich | 787 comments Imagine Frank having to endure that beach scene with Burt and Ava!

message 39: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Question: were the gaming tables 'rigged' at Rick's? Did Casablanca society realize they were rigged? Was Rick's place crooked?

How exactly did it happen then, that Marcel Dalio's character, allowed a customer to win such a large pot at roulette?

message 40: by Betsy (last edited Mar 09, 2020 08:48AM) (new)

Betsy | 2022 comments I think they were basically honest, but could be rigged if necessary, thus when Rick mentioned a certain number (22) it was set to play that number. That's how Emil knew to set the wheel to help that couple.

Even in an honest game, sometimes there are big winners.

message 41: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2200 comments I agree with you, Betsy. A nod from Rick could rig the wheel but basically, it was probably a fairly honestly run game. His rigging of that one turn of the wheel for the benefit of the young refugee couple was honorable......but Louis wasn't very happy about it!!!

message 42: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2022 comments Ah, but I have a feeling Louis found the 'blonde' to be more his style anyway. Perhaps that's why he told the Bulgarian wife to 'Ask Rick.'

message 43: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2022 comments Does anyone have an idea why the 'Letters of Transit', signed by DeGaulle, could not even be 'questioned' in Morocco? I know there was a Free French garrison nearby, but DeGaulle had little power so why care what he says? I think it was only to move the plot along. After all, without the letters there was no way for Lund and Lazlo to get out.

message 44: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
That's a little brain-teaser. Offhand I don't recall if Morocco was under Vichy or not but let's imagine it was just for the sake of simplicity. In theory, even a Vichy-run French possession would be under no obligation to DeGaulle.

Did the writers intend to convey that Vichy citizens would simply do everything they could to aid and abet such illustrious travelers?

For instance, what if the pair had no plane tickets, just the letters. Would Vichy airport officials and pilots simply take them aboard no matter what? Based on their love of Free France? Look the other way?

Did the letters have a time limit, or trip limit, or destination stated? Did they state 'these passengers are going to America on diplomatic business and any point between is included'? Did deGaulle --as a leader --enjoy power to grant diplomatic immunity to anyone designated as his envoy? Hmmm

message 45: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2022 comments Exactly. That's why I think they were a plot device. People would know the name DeGaulle and really not question it. It was the story they were interested in, not authenticity. Just as they are, for the most part, today.

message 46: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
I don't know if 1940s audiences were that oblivious. The story was also a stage play; theater audiences don't miss much. Its possible there's some nuance we don't realize, all these years later.

message 47: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2200 comments Good discussion. Of course, DeGaulle's name on letters of transit would not be acceptable.......he represented the Free French which was not a recognized government (except by The Vatican and Russia) and Vichy controlled French Morocco (Casablanca). Granted, the film showed the Resistance as active in the city which it was but at that point it had no power. DeGaulle was known as a traitor or a hero, depending on who you asked and Churchill and Roosevelt hated him (But Ike liked him).

The whole Vichy thing was most interesting and muddied the waters around France's commitment to freedom. One of my favorite subjects of WWII (as you can probably tell!!!).

message 48: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2022 comments Thanks, Jill. Vichy did indeed 'muddle' things. I love it when Louis drops the bottle of Vichy Water in the trash, and then kind of kicks it aside.

message 49: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
I'm suspecting that the question hinges not on DeGaulle's status but what exactly 'letters of transit' are. Vague phrase.

message 50: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2022 comments But if the letters were supposedly signed by DeGaulle, his position does matter; otherwise anyone could have typed out a form and signed it. I doubt that many Americans would have been familiar with Admiral Darlan's name although Petain's would have been known to older Americans. As you say, 'Letters of Transit' has an official ring to it so that added to the situation. After all, Ugarte killed for them.

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