Monday, April 22, 2024

Movie Monday: Casablanca - A Movie About the Resistance

Movie Monday: Casablanca - 
A Movie about the Resistance

Few people have not heard of Casablanca, the 1942 film featuring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid that tells the story of a cynical American ex-patriate living in Morocco (at that time a French protectorate) whose ex-girlfriend and her husband show up on the run from the Nazis. Rick (Bogart) must choose between the love he still holds for her and helping her Czech-resistance leader husband escape. Based on the unproduced stage play Everybody Comes to Rick's, the screenplay was purchased by Warner Bros. for a whopping $20,000 (as compared to The Maltese Falcon purchased for a paltry $8,000).

Despite its appearance, the entire movie was shot in the Burbank studios with one exception - that of the opening scene when Heinrich Strasser is flying past an airplane hanger - which was filmed at the Van Nuys Airport. Filming took place over ten weeks and cost about $950,000. Post-production and release were then rushed because of what was actually happening during the war. The movie premiered in New York City at the Hollywood Theater on November 26, 1942 rather than in 1943 as planned because the publicity people wanted it to coincide with the Allied invasion of North Africa and the capture of Casablanca. Eight weeks later Casablanca was then released wide to coincide with the Casablanca Conference, the high-level meeting between Winston Churchill and President Franklin Roosevelt in Casablanca.

Intriguingly, some of the actors had experienced the war personally. S.Z. Sakall, a Jewish-Hungarian,

Public Domain
lost his three sisters in a concentration camp. Helmut Dantine had spent time in a concentration camp, fleeing Europe after his release. Curt Bopis was a German-Jewish actor and refugee, and Curt Bois, was a German film star who'd fled his homeland. He would often be cast as a Nazi in American films. Director Michael Curtiz was a Hungarian-Jewish immigrant whose family members were refugees.

The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won three, including best picture, and although was not expected to do more than break even, Casablanca was a box office hit. The US Library of Congress selected the film in 1989 as one of the first for preservation in the National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." And you'll notice, there has never been a

remake. According to one source, there have been several attempts, none of which have "seen the light of day." 

Perhaps Roger Ebert said it best in 1992 (the 50th anniversary of Casablanca): "There are great movies. More profound movies. Movies of greater artistic vision or artistic originality or political significance...But {it is} one of the movies we treasure the most...This is a movie that has transcended the ordinary categories."


Spies & Sweethearts

She wants to do her part. He’s just trying to stay out of the stockade. Will two agents deep behind enemy lines find capture… or love?

1942. Emily Strealer is tired of being told what she can’t do. Wanting to prove herself to her older sisters and do her part for the war effort, the high school French teacher joins the OSS and trains to become a covert operative. And when she completes her training, she finds herself parachuting into occupied France with her instructor to send radio signals to the Resistance.

Major Gerard Lucas has always been a rogue. Transferring to the so-called “Office of Dirty Tricks” to escape a court-martial, he poses as a husband to one of his trainees on a dangerous secret mission. But when their cover is blown after only three weeks, he has to flee with the young schoolteacher to avoid Nazi arrest.

Running for their lives, Emily clings to her mentor’s military experience during the harrowing three-hundred-mile trek to neutral Switzerland. And while Gerard can’t bear the thought of his partner falling into German hands, their forged papers might not be enough to get them over the border.

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