Here's looking at you, 'Casablanca,' on the film's 75th anniversary

You must remember this: Casablanca, perhaps the most beloved movie of all time, celebrates the 75th anniversary of its world premiere on Sunday.

Set in December 1941 in the Moroccan city of Casablanca, the film centers on Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), owner of Rick's Café Americain, and Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman), the wife of a Resistance leader, who sacrifice being together for a higher purpose: defeating the Nazis in World War II. 

To commemorate, here are facts, observations and quotes related to a classic that ranks third on the American Film Institute's (AFI) list of the 100 greatest films of all time.

• Casablanca is adapted from a 1940 play, Everybody Comes to Rick’s, written by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison.

• Casablanca is in North Africa. Casablanca was filmed at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, Calif.

• Producer Hal Wallis purchased the rights to the play in January 1942 and the 102-minute film was screened 11 months later, a phenomenal turnaround time by today’s standards.

• Casablanca premiered on Nov. 26, 1942, in New York, days after the British-U.S. invasion of North Africa. The film’s wide release came on Jan. 23, 1943, as President Roosevelt attended a conference of Allies in Casablanca.

• Casablanca's writers said they didn’t know how the movie would end when filming started. But they didn’t know how World War II would end, either. 

• Some have speculated that the title, which translates to "white house," means that Rick represents FDR. Rick joins the Resistance in Casablanca the same month that the U.S. entered the war.

• Casablanca won three Academy Awards, including best picture, director (Michael Curtiz) and screenplay (twin brothers Julius and Philip Epstein and Howard Koch).

• Casablanca established Bogart as a romantic leading man and cemented his screen image as a cynic hiding a soft center. He was shorter than Bergman, which required adjustments to make him look taller. 

• Bergman, a Swede playing the Norwegian Ilsa, wasn't nominated for an Oscar for Casablanca, but later won three Academy Awards (for 1944's Gaslight, 1956's Anastasia and 1974's Murder on the Orient Express). 

• Memorable supporting players Peter Lorre (as nervous black marketer Ugarte) and Sydney Greenstreet (as Rick’s restaurant competitor, Ferrari) worked with Bogart on another classic, 1941’s The Maltese Falcon. 

• Could Ronald Reagan have played Rick? Warner Bros. put out a press release saying he would co-star in the film, but that was a publicity move; Bogart is thought to have been the only choice. 

• If you have a great line, re-use it. Rick tells Ilsa four different times: "Here's looking at you, kid.” (It's No. 5 on AFI's 2005 list of the 100 greatest movie quotes of all time.) 

• The film has six entries on the AFI list, including Rick's parting line to Ilsa, 'We'll always have Paris," before he sends her off with Resistance leader Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid). Similarly memorable: “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine" and “It doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.” 

• Captain Louis Renault (a showstopping Claude Rains) decides not to turn Rick in for murder when police arrive, inspiring the title of 1995's The Usual Suspects. “Major Strasser has been shot," he says. "Round up the usual suspects.”

• The corrupt, witty Renault, a regular at the barely concealed casino at Rick’s Café, delivers the all-time feigned-ignorance line: “I’m shocked, SHOCKED, to find that gambling is going on in here,” he says, as he’s handed his winnings.

• The music is as memorable as the dialogue, as exemplified by Rick and Ilsa’s Paris song, As Time Goes By :"You must remember this / A kiss is just a kiss / A sigh is just a sigh ...” Bet you’re humming it now.

• Drummer Dooley Wilson, as Sam the piano player, sings As Time Goes By. But that isn't him on the ivories: His piano part is dubbed.

• Nobody ever says, “Play it again, Sam.” When Ilsa arrives at Rick’s, she makes a request: “Play it once, Sam, for old time’s sake.” When Sam hesitates, she persists: “Play it, Sam. Play As Time Goes By.” Later, in a sad, drunken reverie, Rick demands: “You know what I want to hear. Play it!”

• As Casablanca closes, with Rick, joined by Renault, firmly enlisting in the Resistance, he delivers the best closing line in film history: “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” 

Sources: American Film Institute, Snopes.com, IMDb, Westword.com, Time and USA TODAY research

Copyright 2017 USA Today


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