As mentioned last week, Casablanca, made in 1942, is 70 this year. Few movies in history have worn their ages any better than this Warner Brothers creation. It looked great then, and looks even greater now.
Hello everybody. Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie guys, politely asking just how much DO you know about this classic-of- classics costarring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains, Paul Henreid, Peter Lorre, Conrad Veidt, Marcel Dalio and Dooley Wilson.
Since you are reading Classic Movie Chat, we assume you already know a fair amount. Therefore, our quizlet –based on material found in author Aljean Harmetz’s authoritative 2002 book The Making of Casablanca — is designed to explore your knowledge of the movie’s finer points, and to scotch some of the myths that have developed about the picture over the decades.
Ok, let’s see how you did:
Question — While Casablanca was not the most expensive picture made by Warner Brothers in 1942, it’s production budget wasn’t exactly chopped liver. How much did it cost to make? 1) $3 million; 2) $2,324,000; 3) $950,000; or 4) $1,039,000.
Answer: No. 4, the movie cost just a tad over a million. That was considered a relatively modest sum for an A picture back then.
Question — Wasn’t George Raft the producers’ first choice to play the Rick Blaine role that went to Bogie, and didn’t Raft turn the part down? True or False.
Answer: False. Studio boss Jack Warner suggested to producer Hal Wallis that Raft should star in the movie. Wallis, barely polite, dismissed the suggestion out of hand. Casablanca, he asserted, was written for Bogie.
Question: Although it made her a star, Bergman always regarded the part of Ilsa Lund as no big deal. What movie role did she really covet at the time she made Casablanca? 1) the title part in The Song of Bernadette; 2) as Paula Alquist in George Cukor’s Gaslight; 3) as Georgia Brown in Cabin In The Sky; 4) as Maria in For Whom TheBell Tolls; or 5) as Dr. Constance Peterson in Spellbound.
Answer: 4) Maria in For Whom The Bell Tolls opposite Gary Cooper.
Question: Which of these actresses were NOT seriously considered for the Ilsa Lund role played by Bergman? 1) Claudette Colbert; 2) Merle Oberon; 3) Michelle Morgan; or 4) Marlene Dietrich.
Answer: 1), 2) and 4). French actress Morgan was considered for the role, but was turned down by producer Hal Wallis because she demanded a $55,000 salary, which he determined was unreasonably high. Bergman’s services came for less than half Morgan’s pricetag.
Question: How did director Michael Curtiz spend much of his time between takes at the studio? 1) playing chess with Bogie and Henreid; 2) engaging in sexual liaisons with various starlets; 3) working close with key actors on upcoming scenes; or 4) berating extras and production personnel.
Answer: 1) and 2) but perhaps a bit of 4). For more on Curtiz’ sexual hijinks, see our March 21 blog, Peter Lorre: The Prankster of ‘Casablanca.’
Question: “As Time Goes By,” Casablanca’s signature song performed by Dooley Wilson, was almost dropped from the picture during production. Why? 1) Jack Warner felt his studio wasn’t being paid sufficiently in song royalties; 2) Wilson disliked performing it; 3) Casablanca’s composer Max Steiner hated it, and wanted to replace it with a love song he wrote; or 4) Bergman regarded the song as much too sentimental.
Answer: 3) Composer Max Steiner disliked the 1931 Herman Hupfeld song written for the Broadway musical, Everybody’s Welcome (and later recorded by Rudy Vallee). For reasons of plot continuity, though, Steiner didn’t get his way. “As Time Goes By” stayed.
Question: Which one of these cast members was related to studio boss Jack Warner? 1) S.Z. Sakall, who played the genially rotund manager of Rick’s; 2) Leonid Kinskey, the lecherous bartender at Rick’s; 3) Curt Bois, the gregarious pickpocket seen early in the movie; 4) Joy Page, the young Bulgarian wife who catches the eye of Captain Renault; or 5) Marcel Dalio, croupier at Rick’s.
Answer: 4) Joy Page, who was Jack Warner’s 17-year-old stepdaughter and still in high school when she spent two months on the Casablanca production. In this case, nepotism paid off.
Question: How many Oscars did Casablanca win? 1) None; 2) five; 3) three; or 4) two.
Answer: 3) for best picture, best director (Curtiz) and best screenplay (Julius J. and Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch).
Question: Casablanca’s script was one one of the best original screenplays ever written? True or False.
False: the movie was based on a 1940 play, Everybody Comes To Rick’s, by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison. Writes author Harmetz: “Much of the raw material of Casblanca can be found in (the play’s) three acts.”
Question: Casablanca was a box office bomb when it first came out? True or False.
Answer: False. The movie finished production on Aug. 3, 1942, opened in New York City the following Nov. 26, and played widely throughout the country in January 1943. It was a solid box office hit, 1943’s seventh most popular film drawing $3.7 million in ticket sales. And, it drew good notices with Bosley Crowther of The New York Times writing that the picture “makes the spine tingle and the heart take a leap.”