We'll Always Have...

I recently saw a new book that was added to the HCPL collection.  The title caught my attention because it references one of my all-time favorite movies.  In fact, I consider it one of those perfect films, where everything works together.  Story, setting, performances, direction.  It’s one that I’ve seen over and over again and I still find myself drawn to it.

The book is We’ll Always Have Casablanca by Noah Isenberg.

And the film is, of course, Casablanca.

Casablanca premiered in 1942, making it 75 years old now.  Based on an unproduced play, Everybody Comes to Rick’s, by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison, it was thought to be just another film as production began.  But movie magic was about to happen.

Humphrey Bogart, whose roles had been centered on gangsters and tough guys, was playing the romantic lead.  Ingrid Bergman was a Swedish-born actress who had made some good films in America, but had yet to find the breakout role she needed.  Paul Henreid, a Hungarian immigrant, was already establishing himself as a thoughtful, romantic leading man – yet he was reluctant to take a role in the movie.  Claude Rains, a character actor adept at playing both good guys and bad, took on a role for which he’d always be remembered.  Other actors under contract to Warner Brothers played a variety of parts, and each actor or actress gave a memorable performance.

The script went through several rewrites, but in the end all came together for an outstanding story of love and sacrifice in the midst of war.  The direction focused on the letting images support the story.  The music, particularly the song As Time Goes By and recurring French national anthem La Marseillase, evoked feelings of love, hope, courage and determination.

Casablanca was a great success for the studio and the actors.  It received eight Academy Award nominations, winning three for Best Picture, Best Director (Michael Curtiz), and Best Screenplay (Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, and Howard Koch).  Bogart got his first Oscar nod and Rains, his second.

All in all, Casablanca became a romantic drama other films have tried to emulate.  But, in my opinion, nothing comes close to the perfection of this film.  It’s referenced in more movies and TV series and plays than I can name here.  It’s quoted over and over.  Since 1999, Warner Brothers logo has been accompanied by a few bars of As Time Goes By at the start of most of the studio’s films.

I could go on.  But in case you’ve not seen the classic film, give it a try.  I think you’ll understand the way so many feel about it.  If you’re already a fan, well, it’s worth seeing again.  And it’s worth checking other films featuring the performers of Casablanca.


Humphrey Bogart

The African Queen (Best Actor Oscar)
The Big Sleep
The Caine Mutiny
High Sierra
Key Largo
The Maltese Falcon
The Petrified Forest
To Have and Have Not
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
We’re No Angels

Ingrid Bergman

Anastasia (Best Actress Oscar)
The Bells of St. Mary’s
Cactus Flower
For Whom the Bell Tolls

Gaslight (Best Actress Oscar)
Murder on the Orient Express (Best Supporting Actress Oscar)
A Woman called Golda

Paul Henreid

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Hollow Triumph
Night Train to Munich
The Spanish Main

Claude Rains

The Adventures of Robin Hood
The Invisible Man
Mr. Skeffington
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Passage to Marseille

Dooley Wilson

Come to the Stable
Higher and Higher
My Favorite Blonde
Stormy Weather

Conrad Veidt

All Through the Night
Beloved Rogue (silent film)
The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari

Sydney Greenstreet

Christmas in Connecticut
It’s a Great Feeling
The Maltese Falcon
Passage to Marseille
They Died with Their Boots On

Peter Lorre

Arsenic and Old Lace
The Maltese Falcon
My Favorite Brunette
Passage to Marseille
Silk Stockings

S. Z. Sakall

Ball of Fire
The Dolly Sisters
Christmas in Connecticut
In the Good Old Summertime
Tea for Two


Flickr: CC          :Publicity photo for "Casablanca"          Photo by John Irving