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Trivia / Casablanca

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  • Actor-Inspired Element: It was Humphrey Bogart's idea for Rick to be a chess player.
  • AFI's 100 Years... Series:
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: The line is "Play it, Sam", not "Play it again, Sam". Hilariously enough, the first time Ilsa says it, she specifically tells Sam to play it once.
  • California Doubling: The film was shot on the Warner Bros. backlot and at the Van Nuys Airport, a general aviation airport near Los Angeles. A lot of Stock Footage was used for Paris and other locales for obvious reasons.
  • The Cast Showoff: Dooley Wilson (Sam) was a singer and bandleader in the 1920s as well as an actor, hence the inordinate amount of time that he spends singing. (Though he only pretends to be playing the piano.)
  • Defictionalization: There is a real Rick's Cafe in modern-day Casablanca which closely recreates the decor of the film.
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  • DVD Commentary: Roger Ebert makes one awesome commentary track. He breaks down things such as shot design, subtle character motivations, the "La Marseillaise" awesomeness and the MacGuffin disaster.
  • Enforced Method Acting: A rather famous albeit unplanned case of it during the Marseillaise scene. Many of the cast and crew had fled their home countries because were very real victims of Nazi oppression, including Conrad Veidt and Peter Lorre as well as many of the extras. So when you see all those French extras crying while singing their national anthem, they're crying for real.
  • Executive Meddling: The film was barred by The Hays Code from having Ilsa leave her husband for Rick at the end; this led to the film's famous Bittersweet Ending. The execs also refused to let Rick be arrested at the end, leading instead to the famous line, "Round up the usual suspects." In this case, the meddling made the film better for it.
  • Fake Nationality: A good portion of the cast, the most obvious being the very British Claude Rains as French Captain Louis Renault.
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    • Austrian actor Paul Henreid played Victor Laszlo, who's Czech (though his name actually sounds Hungarian).
    • Swedish Ingrid Bergman playing Norwegian Ilsa Lund. The two countries border each other and have a shared cultural history dating back to the Viking Age - but there was one very important difference between them in 1942: Norway was under occupation by Nazi Germany, and Sweden was neutral.
    • Austrian Helmut Dantine as Jan Brandel, the young Bulgarian who tries to win the money for a passage to America at the roulette table. American Joy Page played Annina, his wife. She was one of only four American born actors in the film (Bogart, Wilson and Dan Seymour (Abdul, Ferrari's doorman) were the other three).
    • Canadian John Qualen as Berger, the Norwegian resistance fighter, and Canadian-born George London as one of the singers of the Marseillaisenote .
    • British Sydney Greenstreet played the Italian Ferrari, without attempting an Italian accent.
    • Austro-Hungarian-American Peter Lorre plays the Italian Ugarte.
  • Follow the Leader: After the success of this movie, Hollywood decided they should try and get Humphrey Bogart to make it again. And again. Annnnd again. To Have and Have Not is pretty similar (and very good), but could possibly claim plausible deniability. Tokyo Joe and Sirocco, on the other hand, are just Casablanca again in other countries with crappier supporting casts, writers, and directors.
  • Hostility on the Set: Paul Henried didn't get on well with his fellow actors; he considered Humphrey Bogart "a mediocre actor", while Ingrid Bergman called Henreid a "prima donna". Even Claude Rains disliked Henreid, nicknaming him, "Paul Hemorrhoid".
  • Irony as She Is Cast: Dooley Wilson (Sam) was a professional drummer who faked playing the piano. As the music was recorded at the same time as the film, the piano playing was actually a recording of a performance by Jean Pummer who was playing behind a curtain but who was positioned such that Dooley could watch, and copy, his hand movements.
  • Magnum Opus Dissonance: In her later years, Ingrid Bergman admitted to being somewhat rankled that this assembly-line wartime propaganda picture came to eclipse her more "important" and artistic films with Hitchcock, and Rosselini, and her collaboration with Ingmar Bergman, among others; in her own words, all people ever wanted to talk about was "that one with Bogart".
  • Missing Trailer Scene: The trailer contains a brief sequence of Rick saying "You asked for it" before shooting Strasser; the dialogue does not appear in the movie.
  • Reality Subtext:
    • A number of the actors and extras were actually refugees of Nazi oppression, including Conrad Veidt, who played Major Strasser (he hated the Nazis and spent much of his career playing Nazi officers who were evil, incompetent, or both as a way of striking back at them). This added extra meaning to the "Marseillaise" scene, as most of the emotion from the actors was genuine. It also adds more meaning to Ugarte's arrest, since Peter Lorre was a Jew who fled Nazi Germany to escape exactly what happens to Ugarte. The line where he begs Rick, "Hide me!" particularly stands out.
    • The film takes place during the first week of December 1941, its story concluding only a day or so before the real-life attack on Pearl Harbor. This casts Rick's attempt at neutrality earlier in the film, ending with him becoming an active participant in the conflict, as an allegory for evolving US attitudes towards the war.
  • Recycled Set: The Casablanca airport was, depending on the scene, either Van Nuys Airport in Los Angeles or a foggy indoor set laid out in Forced Perspective. Rick's cafe was built for the film (and then reused for the television series some forty years later). Every other locale in the movie is a set recycled from an earlier Warner Bros. production:
    • The Casablanca street was built for the 1943 film version of The Desert Song, which was released after Casablanca but filmed before.
    • The Paris train station was earlier a Boston train station in the Bette Davis film Now, Voyager.
    • There was even recycling within Casablanca itself as the Paris street was a redress of the Casablanca street.
  • Real Life Writes the Hairstyle: Uniquely an example not affecting a film but preventing a change. Ingrid Bergman cut her hair short to play Maria in For Whom The Bell Tolls (who has hers cut by the Spanish fascists). They wanted to re-film a scene with different music in place, but Ingrid's change of hairstyle made this impossible. The original music "As Time Goes By" is now considered iconic.
  • Romance on the Set: Averted. Humphrey Bogart's then-wife Mayo Methot continually accused him of having an affair with Ingrid Bergman, often confronting him in his dressing room before a shot. Bogart would come onto the set in a rage. In fact, despite the undeniable on-screen chemistry between Bogart and Bergman, they hardly spoke, and the only time they bonded was when the two had lunch with Geraldine Fitzgerald. According to Fitzgerald, "the whole subject at lunch was how they could get out of that movie. They thought the dialogue was ridiculous and the situations were unbelievable... I knew Bogart very well, and I think he wanted to join forces with Bergman, to make sure they both said the same things." For whatever reasons, Bogart and Bergman rarely spoke after that.
  • Scully Box: Ingrid Bergman was actually two inches taller than Bogart, which was made up for by him standing on a box or sitting on additional pillows when closeups were called for.
  • Serendipity Writes the Plot: Everybody Comes to Ricks, the unproduced stage play that this movie was based on, ended with Rick and Ilsa running away together to America; the movie only got its iconic Bittersweet Ending because The Hays Code forbade movies from showing characters getting away with adultery.
  • Stillborn Franchise:
    • The film was successful enough that a sequel, Brazzaville, was planned; Humphrey Bogart and Claude Rains signed on to reprise their roles, but Ingrid Bergman was unavailable, which should have ended things right there, but Geraldine Fitzgerald was ultimately tapped to play Ilsa. By most reports, Brazzaville would have completely undone everything that made Casablanca great: Rick and Louis would both have been revealed to have been spies for the Allies, invalidating their apparently genuine Character Development in the previous film, and Victor Laszlo finally would have met his end, freeing Ilsa to be with Rick without guilt (or that pesky Hays Office breathing down the studio's neck); this would result in a Love Triangle between Rick, Ilsa, and a Spanish woman Rick had to seduce as part of his spy activities; ultimately, Rick and Ilsa would have wound up together and on a boat to the United States, living Happily Ever After. The studio (unsurprisingly) didn't care for this plot outline and (given that the war was winding down and Warner Bros. had a backlog of war pictures to get through before V-J Day) the idea of a sequel was dropped, and never revisited (at least on the screen).
    • Two television series based on Casablanca have aired, both prequels set during the relatively brief period that Rick was running the cafe after fleeing Paris but before Victor and Ilsa arrivenote :
      • The first aired in 1955 as part of the Warner Bros. Presents rotating ("wheel") anthology series, which adapted several of their popular movies into series. Although a number of the minor players from the film returned for the series, none played their original part (Marcel Dallo, who played Emil the croupier in the movie, here played Captain Renaudnote ; Dan Seymour, who played Abdul the doorman in the movie, here played Signor Ferrari). In addition to the several understandable absences (Ilsa, Victor, and Major Strasser), Ugarte is also missing, even though he and Rick obviously knew each other fairly well in the film. Rick himself was played by Charles McGraw; Anthony Quinn was apparently in the running for the part but Jack L. Warner himself is said to have refused to allow him to play Rick; this is unlikely as Quinn had already won an Oscar in 1953 (and would win another in 1957) and television was seen as a major step down for movie stars at the time. The show lasted for only ten episodes.
      • The second aired in 1983, as a mid-season replacement on NBC. The cast lineup was almost as impressive as that of the original film: Hector Elizondo played Captain Renault, Scatman Crothers played Sam, and Ray Liotta played Sacha the bartender. David Soul, late of Starsky & Hutch, played Rick. Major Strasser is a regular character in this adaptation and there is an expanded role for his aide, Lieutenant Heinz (a very minor character in the film). Again, however, Ugarte is curiously absent. This series had an even shorter run than the 1955 series, with just five episodes produced.
  • Throw It In!:
    • Legend has it that "Here's lookin' at you, kid" was improvised.
    • Most of these extras in the National Anthem scene were Europeans displaced by the Nazis and the crying was genuine.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: The film was made at a time when America was neutral in World War II.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The iconic "La Marsaillaise" sequence was intended to been even more pointed against the Nazis. The original song Major Strasser and the other Germans were to sing was not "Die Wacht am Rhein", a patriotic song written in 1840 and extensively used in the Franco-German War and in World War I, but instead "Das Horst-Wessel-Lied", the Nazi Party anthem and unofficial second national anthem of Nazi Germany. However, Warner Bros. changed it when they realized that the song was under copyright, which wouldn't have been a problem if the film were only being distributed in Allied territory. However as the film was also going to be released in neutral countries as well, it could have caused major diplomatic headaches and even opened Warner Bros. to the absurd possibility of being sued by the Nazis for copyright infringement. Or having to pay them royalties.
    • Joan Alison always envisioned Clark Gable as Rick, who "was my concept of a guy that I would like... I hated Humphrey Bogart. I thought he was a common drunk."
    • Early press materials announced Ronald Reagan as Rick, though it's generally believed by film historians that this was just a publicity gimmick for his film Kings Row, which came out around the same time, and he was never actually in the running for the role.
    • Rita Hayworth was the original choice for Ilsa.
    • Joseph Cotten was considered for Victor Lazlow.
    • Otto Preminger was considered for Major Strasser.
    • Later, there were plans for a further scene, showing Rick, Renault and a detachment of Free French soldiers on a ship, to incorporate the Allies' 1942 invasion of North Africa. It proved too difficult to get Claude Rains for the shoot, and the scene was finally abandoned after David O. Selznick judged "it would be a terrible mistake to change the ending."
    • Hal B. Wallis's first choice for director was William Wyler. Howard Hawks was offered the job, but he turned it down in favour of Sergeant York.
    • A remake was planned in the early 2000s by Madonna set in war-torn Iraq. Seeing how iconic Casablanca is, you can see how well that turned out.
    • Another was to star then-couple Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck.
    • A sequel, Brazzaville, was planned but not realized: Rick and Louis have joined in the French Resistance.
  • Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: The script was being written as it was filmed. Some things had to be changed to comply with The Hays Code, and it took a while to come up with a satisfying ending. It was pretty much reverse-engineered once the crew took a liking to the line "Round up the usual suspects": they should be rounded up because of a murder, the person killed should be Strasser, Rick should be the one to kill him, and Louis should say the line.

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