10 Fascinating Facts About Casablanca
At no point during Casablanca does any character say, “Play it again, Sam.” Oh, you knew that already? Well then. Here are 10 other facts about Casablanca, which premiered in New York City on November 26, 1942. A roundup of the less usual suspects, you might say.
1. THE ORIGINAL AUTHORS SIGNED AWAY THEIR RIGHTS.
Murray Burnett and Joan Alison, co-writers of Everybody Comes to Rick’s—the unproduced play on which Casablanca was based—made a bit of a gaffe when they signed their contract, signing away all rights to the story and the characters to Warner Bros. for the then-record sum of $20,000. In 1983, the pair filed a suit against Warner Bros., with Burnett arguing that “These characters are a part of me, and I have a great regard for them … I want them back.” The New York Court of Appeals ruled against Burnett and Alison in 1986, but in order to retain their copyright, Warner Bros. later gave the pair $100,000 apiece and the right to produce the original play. Everybody Comes to Rick’s was produced in London in 1991 and closed less than one month later.
2. TWO CASABLANCA TV SHOWS HAVE BEEN MADE.
There have been two short-lived Casablanca TV series, one that premiered in 1955 and another that aired in 1983. The latter show, a prequel, featured Starsky and Hutch star David Soul as a young Rick Blaine and featured Hector Elizondo, Scatman Crothers, and a twentysomething Ray Liotta in supporting roles. It shot five episodes but was canceled after two.
3. THE SHOOT GOT OFF TO A ROUGH START.
The first scene that director Michael Curtiz and company shot was one of the flashback scenes in Paris, which caused some problems for stars Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Bogart because, in his own words, “I’m not up on this love stuff and don’t know just what to do,” and Bergman because, as the script had not yet been finished, she didn’t know whether her character was supposed to be in love with Rick or Victor Laszlo. Curtiz, who did not know himself, covered marvelously and told her to “play it in between.”
4. IT’S THE MOST QUOTABLE MOVIE OF ALL TIME.
Casablanca is the most quotable movie of all time. And that’s not just an arbitrary distinction: The AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Movie Quotes list, assembled in 2005 and based on the opinions of 1500 filmmakers, critics, and historians, includes six Casablanca quotes, by far more than any other movie. The quotes in question are: “Here’s looking at you, kid” (#5); “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship” (#20); “Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By’” (#28); “Round up the usual suspects” (#32); “We’ll always have Paris” (#43); and “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine” (#67).
5. PART OF THE POSTER IS FROM ANOTHER BOGIE MOVIE.
In many of Casablanca’s better-known posters, the shot of a trench coat- and fedora-wearing Bogart wielding a gun was pulled almost exactly from a publicity shot from earlier Bogie film, Across the Pacific, by poster artist Bill Gold, who repainted it in a photorealistic style.
6. RONALD REAGAN WAS RUMORED TO STAR.
The first bit of press on Casablanca came on January 5, 1942 from The Hollywood Reporter, which announced that Ann Sheridan (Angels with Dirty Faces) and her Kings Row co-star Ronald Reagan (“General Electric Theater,” the Presidency) had been cast as Ilsa and Rick. Needless to say, the rumors had no truth to them. Reagan was in the U.S. Cavalry Reserve at the time and would be called into active duty before the film even began shooting.
7. THE FIRST SCENE WAS SHOT BY ANOTHER FAMOUS DIRECTOR.
Casablanca’s opening scene, the map sequence with a voiceover explaining how refugees from World War II came to be in Casablanca, was created by Don Siegel, who in later years would direct some classics of his own, including Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and Dirty Harry (1971).
8. EDWARD GOREY’S STEPMOTHER HAS AN UNCREDITED ROLE.
The Café Américain’s nightclub singer, who in the famous "La Marseillaise" scene can be seen strumming away at a guitar, is one Corinna Mura: actress, cabaret singer, and—from 1936 to 1952—the stepmother of American writer and artist Edward Gorey, creator of The Gashlycrumb Tinies.
9. THERE WERE SOME ODD TABLOID RUMORS ABOUT THE MOVIE.
Prior to the release of Casablanca, gossip items circulated that Humphrey Bogart was taking Swedish lessons from co-star Ingrid Bergman and that Paul Henreid had adopted his father’s gardener’s two daughters, refugees from Europe. Neither story, as it happens, was true.
10. FRANÇOIS TRUFFAUT TURNED DOWN THE CHANCE TO REMAKE IT.
In 1973, a Warner Bros. executive approached French New Wave icon François Truffaut about directing a Casablanca remake. The director refused, noting that Casablanca “[isn’t] my favorite Humphrey Bogart film, and I rate it much lower than The Big Sleep or To Have and Have Not ... [but] I know American students adore this film, especially the dialogue, and they know every line by heart. I would be equally intimidated by the actors; I can’t imagine Jean-Paul Belmondo and Catherine Deneuve succeeding Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.”
Casablanca: Inside the Script, by The Editors of Warner Bros. Digital Publishing