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Casablanca was first released in 1942, just two weeks after the city of Casablanca itself surrendered to American troops led by General Patton. Featuring a pitch-perfect screenplay, a classic soundtrack, and unforgettable performances by Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and a deep supporting cast, Casablanca was hailed in the New York Times as “a picture that makes the spi Casablanca was first released in 1942, just two weeks after the city of Casablanca itself surrendered to American troops led by General Patton. Featuring a pitch-perfect screenplay, a classic soundtrack, and unforgettable performances by Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and a deep supporting cast, Casablanca was hailed in the New York Times as “a picture that makes the spine tingle and the heart take a leap.” The film won Oscars for best picture, best director, and best screenplay, and would go on to enjoy more revival screenings than any other movie in history. It became so firmly ensconced in the cultural imagination that, as Umberto Eco once said, Casablanca is “not one movie; it is ‘movies.’ ” We’ll Always Have Casablanca is celebrated film historian Noah Isenberg’s rich account of this most beloved movie’s origins. Through extensive research and interviews with filmmakers, film critics, family members of the cast and crew, and diehard fans, Isenberg reveals the myths and realities behind Casablanca’s production, exploring the transformation of the unproduced stage play into the classic screenplay, the controversial casting decisions, the battles with Production Code censors, and the effect of the war’s progress on the movie’s reception. Isenberg particularly focuses on the central role refugees from Hitler’s Europe played in the production (nearly all of the actors and actresses cast in Casablanca were immigrants). Filled with fresh insights into Casablanca’s creation, production, and legacy, We’ll Always Have Casablanca is a magnificent account of what made the movie so popular and why it continues to dazzle audiences seventy-five years after its release.


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Casablanca was first released in 1942, just two weeks after the city of Casablanca itself surrendered to American troops led by General Patton. Featuring a pitch-perfect screenplay, a classic soundtrack, and unforgettable performances by Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and a deep supporting cast, Casablanca was hailed in the New York Times as “a picture that makes the spi Casablanca was first released in 1942, just two weeks after the city of Casablanca itself surrendered to American troops led by General Patton. Featuring a pitch-perfect screenplay, a classic soundtrack, and unforgettable performances by Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and a deep supporting cast, Casablanca was hailed in the New York Times as “a picture that makes the spine tingle and the heart take a leap.” The film won Oscars for best picture, best director, and best screenplay, and would go on to enjoy more revival screenings than any other movie in history. It became so firmly ensconced in the cultural imagination that, as Umberto Eco once said, Casablanca is “not one movie; it is ‘movies.’ ” We’ll Always Have Casablanca is celebrated film historian Noah Isenberg’s rich account of this most beloved movie’s origins. Through extensive research and interviews with filmmakers, film critics, family members of the cast and crew, and diehard fans, Isenberg reveals the myths and realities behind Casablanca’s production, exploring the transformation of the unproduced stage play into the classic screenplay, the controversial casting decisions, the battles with Production Code censors, and the effect of the war’s progress on the movie’s reception. Isenberg particularly focuses on the central role refugees from Hitler’s Europe played in the production (nearly all of the actors and actresses cast in Casablanca were immigrants). Filled with fresh insights into Casablanca’s creation, production, and legacy, We’ll Always Have Casablanca is a magnificent account of what made the movie so popular and why it continues to dazzle audiences seventy-five years after its release.

30 review for We'll Always Have Casablanca: The Legend and Afterlife of Hollywood's Most Beloved Film

  1. 4 out of 5

    John Blumenthal

    If you're a Casablanca fan (I've seen it over 20 times myself) this book could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Just about every aspect of the movie--before, during and after production-- is explored and the book brims with fascinating details about the mediocre play on which it was based, the writing of the screenplay, the casting, bios of the stars as well as co-stars and those with bit parts, most of whom were actual emigres from Germany, Russia, Hungary, who'd escaped from war-tor If you're a Casablanca fan (I've seen it over 20 times myself) this book could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Just about every aspect of the movie--before, during and after production-- is explored and the book brims with fascinating details about the mediocre play on which it was based, the writing of the screenplay, the casting, bios of the stars as well as co-stars and those with bit parts, most of whom were actual emigres from Germany, Russia, Hungary, who'd escaped from war-torn Europe. Virtually every foreign accent was authentic. I could go on and on and am tempted to, but I don't want to reveal too many of the delicious details. Highly recommended! #thestrangecourtshipofabigailbird

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ed

    For gaining some background and history of the renowned movie, Casablanca, this book fills the bill quite nicely. The discussions of the movie, especially the actors, is more interesting to me than the pop culture associations with it. I don't care if The Simpsons did a parody, for instance. The origin and evolution of the movie script was surprising. All in all, I enjoyed reading about Casablanca. Now I want to watch it again. For gaining some background and history of the renowned movie, Casablanca, this book fills the bill quite nicely. The discussions of the movie, especially the actors, is more interesting to me than the pop culture associations with it. I don't care if The Simpsons did a parody, for instance. The origin and evolution of the movie script was surprising. All in all, I enjoyed reading about Casablanca. Now I want to watch it again.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jill Hutchinson

    The American Film Institute rated Casablanca as the 2nd best film ever made, losing only to Citizen Kane. But in the "beloved" category it rated number one and this book dissects the legend of the film and why it continues to appeal to a world-wide audience even though it was targeted at our parents and grandparents generation. It has gained not only cult status as a film but also began the cult of Humphrey Bogart and if you have seen it, you will know why. (I have seen it more times than I can The American Film Institute rated Casablanca as the 2nd best film ever made, losing only to Citizen Kane. But in the "beloved" category it rated number one and this book dissects the legend of the film and why it continues to appeal to a world-wide audience even though it was targeted at our parents and grandparents generation. It has gained not only cult status as a film but also began the cult of Humphrey Bogart and if you have seen it, you will know why. (I have seen it more times than I can count!!) The author finally dismisses two major myths that surround the film: (1) It was not originally to be cast with Ronald Reagan and Ann Sheridan (I shudder at the thought); and (2) There was no alternative ending filmed or considered even though that rumor continues to circulate. The author looks at the myriad of actors in the film that were themselves refugees, escaping from Hitler's horrors. Some, such as Peter Lorre, S.Z. Sakall, Conrad Veidt, and Marcel Dalio went on to have successful careers in Hollywood as second leads or character actors. But so many, who were major stars in their native Germany, Poland, and Hungary, merely had walk-on parts or a single line of dialogue and quickly disappeared from the movie business. There is a plethora of information about the screenwriting, sets, music, etc. that explains how it all came together to become legendary......even though the studio and all those involved had no idea that this was anything more than a good war time romantic film. But in the early 1960s, Casablanca began showing up in art houses, on college campuses, and at the midnight movies and young people returned again and again to cheer, cry, and stand and sing the Marseillaise along with Madeline LaBeau and the patrons in Rick's Café. The rest is history. After 75 years, it continues to captivate and I, for one, know the dialogue and also when I am going to cry (the aforementioned Marseillaise scene and in Rick's apartment when Bergman drops the gun and says "You don't know how much I loved you, how much I still love you"). A wonderful read for the film fan and a must read for fanatics of Casablanca. Here's looking at you, kid.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Adrienne

    Well the title say it all - "We'll Always Have CASABLANCA The Life, Legend and Afterlife of Hollywood's Most Beloved Movie". I really enjoyed reading this book. Reading about the setting, the war influence ( the movie was released in 1942), the impact of immigrants (75 of the actors and actresses were immigrants) and the strong prevailing moral code functioning in film production. Remember too this was the time of the Great Depression in USA. Plus this book had 33 pages of acknowledgement, notes, Well the title say it all - "We'll Always Have CASABLANCA The Life, Legend and Afterlife of Hollywood's Most Beloved Movie". I really enjoyed reading this book. Reading about the setting, the war influence ( the movie was released in 1942), the impact of immigrants (75 of the actors and actresses were immigrants) and the strong prevailing moral code functioning in film production. Remember too this was the time of the Great Depression in USA. Plus this book had 33 pages of acknowledgement, notes, references and index. Staggering. This amped my appreciation of the book. Unputdownable. Now I want to re-watch the movie - soon

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michael Milgrom

    This book has a lot of interesting Casablanca trivia. It also has a lot of boring Casablanca trivia. The opening chapters on the making of the movie, the role of emigres in it, and how the movie makers dealt with the censorship of the time were quite interesting. The part about possible sequels got bogged down and the final chapter, on Casablanca spoofs and references, was really superfluous. I suspect, though I haven't read it, that if you want to know everything about the making of Casablanca This book has a lot of interesting Casablanca trivia. It also has a lot of boring Casablanca trivia. The opening chapters on the making of the movie, the role of emigres in it, and how the movie makers dealt with the censorship of the time were quite interesting. The part about possible sequels got bogged down and the final chapter, on Casablanca spoofs and references, was really superfluous. I suspect, though I haven't read it, that if you want to know everything about the making of Casablanca you should read the book that this author listed as his main resource, Round Up the Usual Suspects by Aljean Harmetz, and skip this one.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Eva-Joy

    Actual rating: 4.5 This marks the third book I've read (so far) about the film, Casablanca, and it just might be my favorite. Casablanca is my second favorite movie of all time and I'm looking forward to revisiting it after reading this delightful book. Actual rating: 4.5 This marks the third book I've read (so far) about the film, Casablanca, and it just might be my favorite. Casablanca is my second favorite movie of all time and I'm looking forward to revisiting it after reading this delightful book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Michael Ritchie

    There have been a lot of books written about Casablanca, and I've probably read most of them. This one begins well, but its structure is weak (not exactly chronological but thematic) and the author goes off on cultural tangents in order, it seems, to lengthen the book. Very little new is brought up, but it is easy to read and it does make me want to revisit the film yet again. Aljean Harmetz's book on Casablanca, which Isenberg rightfully praises, is the still the book to beat. There have been a lot of books written about Casablanca, and I've probably read most of them. This one begins well, but its structure is weak (not exactly chronological but thematic) and the author goes off on cultural tangents in order, it seems, to lengthen the book. Very little new is brought up, but it is easy to read and it does make me want to revisit the film yet again. Aljean Harmetz's book on Casablanca, which Isenberg rightfully praises, is the still the book to beat.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    This book is not about the making of the film “Casablanca”. Rather, it is a story about the émigré experience in Hollywood at the time the film was being made, which as it turns out, was quite extensive. I had never thought about the fact that the majority of the players in the film: extras, bit players and even the actors with one or two lines were all émigrés. “Hailing from more than thirty different nations…” (Pg.128). In fact the entire cast is mostly international with only three of the credi This book is not about the making of the film “Casablanca”. Rather, it is a story about the émigré experience in Hollywood at the time the film was being made, which as it turns out, was quite extensive. I had never thought about the fact that the majority of the players in the film: extras, bit players and even the actors with one or two lines were all émigrés. “Hailing from more than thirty different nations…” (Pg.128). In fact the entire cast is mostly international with only three of the credited actors having been born in the United States. This becomes notable especially because the story the film portrays is very much about the political situation the world found itself in at the time (WWII) necessitating persons fleeing the ravages of war. The author also makes much of the writing of the screenplay – who contributed what and when and how. Noteworthy due to the many quotable lines of dialogue that have endured for decades. The book begins to ramble boringly discussing the numerous number of proposed spin-offs &/or sequels and the various spoofs over the years. (Yawn!) Not surprising – everyone and their cousin has an opinion about this movie and the author has shared the opinions of everyone he could possible find to quote. Being a huge fan of old classic movies I was enjoying this book (in spite of its downfalls) until I got to the end when it took a turn that soured the experience for me when current politics reared its ugly head with the mention of persons currently in political USA news. Why you would want to end a book about "Casablanca” with a quote from a present day wannabe United States Presidential hopeful’s Facebook page defies logic. It was shockingly unnecessary and, in my view, demeaning to what I assumed the author was trying to accomplish, which was paying homage to “Casablanca”. This anomaly turned what had begun as a 5-star read into my very generous 3-stars.

  9. 4 out of 5

    James

    Comprehensive historical background on the origins of, making, of, revisions to, conflicting statements on the writing of, and later eternal life of one of the MOST impressionable and iconic movies of all time. One of the many quotes in the book attributed to one of the any authors and historians and even philosophers regarding CASABLANCA is that it is just not a 'movie', it is the 'movies'. The book is best read in chapter segments of concentration, because each chapter seems to be an essay of Comprehensive historical background on the origins of, making, of, revisions to, conflicting statements on the writing of, and later eternal life of one of the MOST impressionable and iconic movies of all time. One of the many quotes in the book attributed to one of the any authors and historians and even philosophers regarding CASABLANCA is that it is just not a 'movie', it is the 'movies'. The book is best read in chapter segments of concentration, because each chapter seems to be an essay of sorts pertaining to the subject at hand contained. This makes for some redundancy if you read two chapters or so in a row. The author seems to have knitted his observations and historical data together like a quilt and some information is repeated. Overall, this is a great guide through CASABLANCA and a must read for fans of the film. The concluding chapter goes into how many tie it has been referenced or parodied or honored in other films, TV shows and whatnot. Even the beginning of any Warner Brothers film has hints of AS TIME GOES BY as the iconic WB shield appears before their features. The film lives on in memory through the generations.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    This book is more than a description of a classic film. The U.S. was isolationist until the attack on Pearl Harbor, and most studios were still releasing movies in Germany. Murray Burnett and his wife had gone to Vienna in 1938 and were shocked by the antisemitism they witnessed. Burnett co-wrote the play upon which Casablanca was based. Warner Bros. was not isolationist because Harry Warner was born a Jew in Poland. The film was first released in N.Y.C. on December 25, 1942. As Elizabeth Warren This book is more than a description of a classic film. The U.S. was isolationist until the attack on Pearl Harbor, and most studios were still releasing movies in Germany. Murray Burnett and his wife had gone to Vienna in 1938 and were shocked by the antisemitism they witnessed. Burnett co-wrote the play upon which Casablanca was based. Warner Bros. was not isolationist because Harry Warner was born a Jew in Poland. The film was first released in N.Y.C. on December 25, 1942. As Elizabeth Warren said, It was made about refugees by refugees." The film was populated with cast and crew abounding with refugees fleeing Europe.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Doug

    Super read, easy pacing, loaded with facts but not overloading. Even if you are not one in the legions of Casablanca fans you will find this interesting. ‘Play it again Sam’ (Sic)

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rod Pyle

    Reasonably thorough look at the history and making of the film, public and critical reactions, and a fair amount of trivia.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    Isenberg's book is a wonderful read for anyone who's seen Casablanca once or twice and wants to know more, not only about the movie itself, but also how it continues to be a cultural powerhouse. For those wanting to know more, I highly recommend the excellent book The Making of Casablanca: Bogart, Bergman, and World War II (previously titled Round Up the Usual Suspects) by Aljean Harmetz and a wonderful biography of the film's director titled Michael Curtiz: A Life in Film by Alan K. Rode. Isenberg's book is a wonderful read for anyone who's seen Casablanca once or twice and wants to know more, not only about the movie itself, but also how it continues to be a cultural powerhouse. For those wanting to know more, I highly recommend the excellent book The Making of Casablanca: Bogart, Bergman, and World War II (previously titled Round Up the Usual Suspects) by Aljean Harmetz and a wonderful biography of the film's director titled Michael Curtiz: A Life in Film by Alan K. Rode.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie W

    Very informative book of one of my all-time favorite movies.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Pretty solid discussion of Casablanca, the movie and the phenomenon, even for this long time Casablanca fanboy. I learned a few things, like only 3 of the 15 named parts in the movie were natural born American citizens - you can guess 2 of them pretty easily (Bogart and Dooley), but the 3rd one you'll find hard to do: (view spoiler)[ Annina Brandel, the young Bulgarian bride who asks Rick for his advice, is played by Joy Page, stepdaughter of Warner Bros. head honcho Jack Warner (hide spoiler)] and Pretty solid discussion of Casablanca, the movie and the phenomenon, even for this long time Casablanca fanboy. I learned a few things, like only 3 of the 15 named parts in the movie were natural born American citizens - you can guess 2 of them pretty easily (Bogart and Dooley), but the 3rd one you'll find hard to do: (view spoiler)[ Annina Brandel, the young Bulgarian bride who asks Rick for his advice, is played by Joy Page, stepdaughter of Warner Bros. head honcho Jack Warner (hide spoiler)] and a few other tidbits. It was also fun to read about how the movie and its reputation grew as the years went by. And how even today, when many of the youngsters haven't seen it, it is such a cultural touchstone that references can be made to it in places like The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live knowing it will still resonate. And I've added another place to go before I die - Rick's Cafe just outside of, yes, Casablanca Morocco!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Robert Greenberger

    After reading Aljean Harmetz's Round up the Usual Suspects, I wasn't sure I needed another book on this classic film, one of my top two favorites. However, Noah Isenberg's cultural look at the films' production, release, reception, and legacy got good notices so I asked for it for my birthday. Having just finished it, I can attest that I learned new nuggets about the film's history and it's impact around the world. If you haven't seen the film (really?) this still shows some interesting details i After reading Aljean Harmetz's Round up the Usual Suspects, I wasn't sure I needed another book on this classic film, one of my top two favorites. However, Noah Isenberg's cultural look at the films' production, release, reception, and legacy got good notices so I asked for it for my birthday. Having just finished it, I can attest that I learned new nuggets about the film's history and it's impact around the world. If you haven't seen the film (really?) this still shows some interesting details into how the Hollywood system once worked and how the right film at the right time can become a classic.

  17. 5 out of 5

    John Blumenthal

    If you are a "Casablanca" fan (I believe I have seen it 20 times), this book could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. It is brimming with fascinating details about the mediocre play on which it was based, the making of the movie, the casting, bios of the stars and the secondary actors, (practically all of them emigres from war-torn Europe), how the writers and producers cleverly managed to bypass or work around screen censorship and the film's enormous effect on the world even to this d If you are a "Casablanca" fan (I believe I have seen it 20 times), this book could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. It is brimming with fascinating details about the mediocre play on which it was based, the making of the movie, the casting, bios of the stars and the secondary actors, (practically all of them emigres from war-torn Europe), how the writers and producers cleverly managed to bypass or work around screen censorship and the film's enormous effect on the world even to this day. Highly recommended!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alice

    A loving tribute to the world's most beloved movie. I already know more about Humphrey Bogart than is perhaps healthy, but I learned a great deal about the other actors (including how many of them were themselves refugees, like the characters they played), as well as writers, directors, and the Warner Brothers studio. There's a lot about the enduring appeal of the film, the effect it had on the lives of both the people involved and its many fans, and how embedded it is in the consciousness of th A loving tribute to the world's most beloved movie. I already know more about Humphrey Bogart than is perhaps healthy, but I learned a great deal about the other actors (including how many of them were themselves refugees, like the characters they played), as well as writers, directors, and the Warner Brothers studio. There's a lot about the enduring appeal of the film, the effect it had on the lives of both the people involved and its many fans, and how embedded it is in the consciousness of the Western world. (I know it's not possible to mention every time Casablanca has been parodied in popular culture, but I'm sad the Get Smart episode was missed out.)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    Very interesting book about the long lasting popularity of the movie Casablanca. It's interesting to note that most of the 75 actors and actresses in the film were actually immigrants. When Madeleine Lebeau sings the Marseillaise, those are real tears, as she herself fled France via Lisbon. A lot of the actors/actresses were popular in the profession in their home countries but had to settle for playing bit parts in the U.S. Very interesting book about the long lasting popularity of the movie Casablanca. It's interesting to note that most of the 75 actors and actresses in the film were actually immigrants. When Madeleine Lebeau sings the Marseillaise, those are real tears, as she herself fled France via Lisbon. A lot of the actors/actresses were popular in the profession in their home countries but had to settle for playing bit parts in the U.S.

  20. 5 out of 5

    John DiConsiglio

    You must remember this: Either you love the movie Casablanca—or you haven’t seen it yet. If you’re the latter, stop what you’re doing & find it. (AMC shows it round the clock.) But if you’re ready for a night out at Rick’s Café Américain, if you can tell Ugarte from Ferrari, if you know what to do when “Major Strasser has been shot,” then here’s looking at you, kid. This film scholar’s love letter to the 1942 classic may not amount to a hill of beans, but it could be the beginning of a beautiful You must remember this: Either you love the movie Casablanca—or you haven’t seen it yet. If you’re the latter, stop what you’re doing & find it. (AMC shows it round the clock.) But if you’re ready for a night out at Rick’s Café Américain, if you can tell Ugarte from Ferrari, if you know what to do when “Major Strasser has been shot,” then here’s looking at you, kid. This film scholar’s love letter to the 1942 classic may not amount to a hill of beans, but it could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Steve Schechter

    Noah Isenberg’s study of the conception, production, and influence of Casablanca is mostly interesting, always readable, and sure to entertain fans of the film, of which we are legion. Isenberg begins by outlining the creation of the stage play 'Everybody Comes to Rick’s' by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison. The show never made it to the stage but did make it to the desk of producer Hal Wallis at Warner Brothers. He optioned the play for $20,000. Isenberg writes it was “the most money ever paid, at Noah Isenberg’s study of the conception, production, and influence of Casablanca is mostly interesting, always readable, and sure to entertain fans of the film, of which we are legion. Isenberg begins by outlining the creation of the stage play 'Everybody Comes to Rick’s' by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison. The show never made it to the stage but did make it to the desk of producer Hal Wallis at Warner Brothers. He optioned the play for $20,000. Isenberg writes it was “the most money ever paid, at that time, by a Hollywood studio for an unproduced play and more than twice the purchase price of Warners’ acquisition of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon." Next the book outlines the writing of the script by Julius and Philip Epstein and Howard Koch. This chapter is a fantastic read for any screenplay junkie. There’s a lot here but basically it boils down to the Epsteins laid out the story, witty banter, and romance. Koch brought in the politics. When Isenberg gets into the production of the film is when the narrative really sings. Fans of the film, and classic film fans in general, will eat up everything here. I don’t want to spoil anything but let’s just say there’s a tremendous anecdote involving director Michael Curtiz’s trailer, Peter Lorre, and a microphone. Another wonderful section of the book deals with the various nationalities of the cast. This was a cast of emigres making a movie about emigres looking for an escape. The ‘Marseillaise’ scene has always been an emotional high-point in Casablanca. And it’s even more powerful when you put it into context of the performers’ lives. Isenberg’s book is less interesting when it moves into the afterlife of the film. Did you know that in 1955-1956 there was a weekly TV series based on Casablanca where Charles McGraw played Rick? I didn’t but I don’t really care. Isenberg goes deep to find some strange stuff about different iterations of our beloved characters. He does fine work but I could’ve gone my whole life without reading a graphic sex scene involving Rick and Ilsa. Some hidden things deserve to stay hidden. Overall the book is well-researched and reads, much like the film, with a great pace. Isenberg moves quickly from one interlude to the next and lays out the particulars in fine detail. Casablanca is my favorite movie. It’s funny, moving, powerful. It’s about the important choices people make in the most important times of their lives. And it’s set in a moment of tremendous importance in history. It deserves a book that honors all that. Thankfully we have it right here.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jon Nikrich

    Lots of good stories, but my favorite is when the director insisted Claude Rains enter the scene with more energy so Claude Rains entered the next take on a bicycle.

  23. 4 out of 5

    John of Canada

    I loved Casablanca the movie.I didn't love this book.Some of the early stuff was good,mostly because it reminded me of the movie.The rest of it seemed like a bunch of articles pasted together.There was too much repetition. I loved Casablanca the movie.I didn't love this book.Some of the early stuff was good,mostly because it reminded me of the movie.The rest of it seemed like a bunch of articles pasted together.There was too much repetition.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    Good background on the writing/making of this great film

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    While I'm not a hardcore Casablanca fan, I've always really liked it and figured a deep dive would be interesting. I was right but I have to admit the books I've read on 2001 and Caddyshack were more enlightening, which I craved here. Still, this is an interesting look at arguably the most classic Hollywood movie ever made. A lot is made of how many different writers worked on this in some form or another and I fear this is why this idiotic practice is still carried out today. It's astounding ho While I'm not a hardcore Casablanca fan, I've always really liked it and figured a deep dive would be interesting. I was right but I have to admit the books I've read on 2001 and Caddyshack were more enlightening, which I craved here. Still, this is an interesting look at arguably the most classic Hollywood movie ever made. A lot is made of how many different writers worked on this in some form or another and I fear this is why this idiotic practice is still carried out today. It's astounding how relevant a 77 year old movie is not only culturally but politically as well. Again, this is a solid read and it could be more to you depending on just how into Casablanca you are.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jordan Lynch

    I saw Casablanca for the first time this past year. I know, I know; how could I have lived for 28 years without having seen one of the greatest movies of all time? I don't know. (I haven't seen Citizen Kane either, so clearly my classic movie film viewing is severely lacking.) It has all the elements that I love in a film--important time period, witty banter, dramatic showdowns, a grizzled hero, and even an unforgettable song--so it's no surprise that once I saw the film, I fell in love. I was t I saw Casablanca for the first time this past year. I know, I know; how could I have lived for 28 years without having seen one of the greatest movies of all time? I don't know. (I haven't seen Citizen Kane either, so clearly my classic movie film viewing is severely lacking.) It has all the elements that I love in a film--important time period, witty banter, dramatic showdowns, a grizzled hero, and even an unforgettable song--so it's no surprise that once I saw the film, I fell in love. I was therefore quite excited to read We'll Always Have Casablanca to get a more behind-the-scenes look at this beloved classic. We'll Always Have Casablanca is a bit of a making-of story combined with an extensive review of the film. There are tons of interesting tidbits about the writers, the actors, and all the other major players that really flesh out the production and the importance of the film. I find it incredibly interesting that the majority of the actors were refugees fleeing the Nazis, much like the characters they played. That knowledge adds another layer of authenticity to the film and really makes it that much more bittersweet. These people had made it out, but there were so many like the characters they were playing that were stuck, waiting for their chance to escape to freedom and safety. The tidbits regarding censorship of films during the 1940s is also quite interesting. Of course, there were things that had to be censored or carefully played because of the war, but the morals of the country at the time even required censorship of the relationship between Rick and Ilsa, which is quite interesting in light of what's shown in films today. Furthermore, the censoring in other countries, whether related to wartime loyalties or sensibilities, meant that different people saw different parts of the story and made for varying levels of popularity. In the end, though, the original film reached the world, and Isenberg does a nice job of showing how the film's cult status grew over the years. All in all, We'll Always Have Casablanca is an incredibly interesting read that any fan of the film, of the time period, or of film history in general will enjoy.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    It's often been said that while Casablanca was not the best movie ever made, it has been called the most beloved, and reading this latest book that focusses on its mystique makes me want to find a theater screening it so I can see it on the big screen once more. As with most viewers my age and younger, I first saw it cut, spliced and interrupted by commercials on a late show, and it wasn't until the mid-70's when I saw it at Trinity College's annual sold-out screening (where it was always paired It's often been said that while Casablanca was not the best movie ever made, it has been called the most beloved, and reading this latest book that focusses on its mystique makes me want to find a theater screening it so I can see it on the big screen once more. As with most viewers my age and younger, I first saw it cut, spliced and interrupted by commercials on a late show, and it wasn't until the mid-70's when I saw it at Trinity College's annual sold-out screening (where it was always paired with Robin Hood) that I was hit with its full power. Viewed as it should be on a screen in a darkened theater. It was that experience that turned me into the film lover I am today, insisting that people try where possible to see films not on tv, but as they were designed to be seen. Casablanca, Psycho, and Citizen Kane. All of these iconic films are perfect as they are and shouldn't be messed with. As for the book's content, there was little that was new, but it was the thematic structure that gave it resonance. Interesting -- when read against the background of today’s incendiary political and social landscape was the accusation of potential war mongering propaganda present in those days of WWII. Also, the fact that Jack Warner was already on a Nazi hit list due to the screening of one of his earlier films at Berchtesgaden. Also interesting was the timing of the film's release - Thanksgiving 1942, within days of the takeover of northern Africa by American forces. The timing of this resonated with audiences of the day, as a delay of even a week would mean Moroccan Jews were designated for deportation to Germany and death camps. In particular, I loved the chapter dealing with the cast, not just the beloved main characters, but with every one, even the smallest part. Pauline Kael, who was not a fan of the movie, nevertheless pointed out the contribution of emigre population particularly in large cafe scenes which benefitted from the polyglot of languages. She said that the picture would not have had the tone it did if Hollywood actors were cast, faking accents. The final chapters, least successful, concern the attempts to broaden the story, colorize it, even the horrid (late, unlamented) attempt at a tv series in the '80s. Plans were hatched (and discarded, thank God), to follow Ilse, Rick and Renault and to fashion their lives following the fog drenched scene on the tarmac, but that movie, made in a time when sequels were not what they are today, is perfect as it stands even if it's a story without a tidy ending. So, just leave it alone.

  28. 4 out of 5

    James

    A readable general overview of the film: its creation and production and place in pop culture. I wish it were more technical and had more from the micro level about how the film was made. What kind of man was Michael Curtiz? Still, the section on the many attempts to create prequels and sequels is interesting, as is the chapter on the number of immigrants involved in the production. Why he chose to end a book about the greatest film of all time with long quotations from Elizabeth Warren's FaceBo A readable general overview of the film: its creation and production and place in pop culture. I wish it were more technical and had more from the micro level about how the film was made. What kind of man was Michael Curtiz? Still, the section on the many attempts to create prequels and sequels is interesting, as is the chapter on the number of immigrants involved in the production. Why he chose to end a book about the greatest film of all time with long quotations from Elizabeth Warren's FaceBook page was a mystery. I mean, of all the viewers on all the FaceBook pages in all the world, he quotes her? I also could have done without the analysis / recaps of Simpsons episodes, Play It Again, Sam or SNL skits, which make the ending seem padded.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Spiros

    Noah Isenberg does an absolutely bang-up job of describing the making of a film classic, famously described by many cineastes as a "great bad film". Along the way he untangles the various claims made by the various writers involved in the project, and thankfully debunks the whole Ronald Reagan and Ann Sheridan as Rick and Ilsa plot line: the studio publicity department leaked that story to get the actors' names in the trade papers in advance of the opening of King's Row, in which they played the Noah Isenberg does an absolutely bang-up job of describing the making of a film classic, famously described by many cineastes as a "great bad film". Along the way he untangles the various claims made by the various writers involved in the project, and thankfully debunks the whole Ronald Reagan and Ann Sheridan as Rick and Ilsa plot line: the studio publicity department leaked that story to get the actors' names in the trade papers in advance of the opening of King's Row, in which they played the leads. He then goes on to usefully collate critical and cultural response to the film in the going-on for 75 years (!) since the film's release.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    For Casablanca Film Buffs and Those who are moved by the Refugee Crisis Today Fans of Casablanca will enjoy reading about the making of this much-beloved film and learn a great deal about the climate of public opinion before and after the film was released. Author Noah Isenberg reminds us that in the 1930s and 1940s there had been little sympathy and much prejudice in the US regarding Jewish refugees. Indeed, until Pearl Harbor, there was little appetite for entry into a war against Hitler. So it For Casablanca Film Buffs and Those who are moved by the Refugee Crisis Today Fans of Casablanca will enjoy reading about the making of this much-beloved film and learn a great deal about the climate of public opinion before and after the film was released. Author Noah Isenberg reminds us that in the 1930s and 1940s there had been little sympathy and much prejudice in the US regarding Jewish refugees. Indeed, until Pearl Harbor, there was little appetite for entry into a war against Hitler. So it is enlightening to learn about the improbable couple who wrote the script, “Everybody Comes to Rick’s”, for a never-produced Broadway play. This script was acquired by the Warner Bros. studio factory for a record price and was adapted for the screen. It was also a happy coincidence that most of the cast consisted of recently arrived Jewish refugee actors from Europe who could relate, in a first-hand way, to the story. Indeed only three of the actors given screen credits were born in the United States, Humphrey Bogart and Dooley Wilson, the black piano player, being two. Isenberg defines the appeal of Casablanca in a way that might be a guide to our better selves today: “Larger-than-life characters, exotic backdrops, heart-wrenching romance, and plenty of glimpses of a universally identifiable, basic humanity.” He quotes the son of one of the screenwriters, “…it’s the signature archetype of how Americans would like to think of themselves — tough but having a heart and doing the right thing.” Fortuitously for Warner Brothers, the film was released in November 1942 just as American forces were landing in North Africa and seizing the real Casablanca. The author points out that Warners were brave to address the menace of the Nazis early on. Even though other large studios such as MGM were headed by Jews, the European export market for films constituted between 30% and 40% of box office profits in the mid-1930s and studios avoided taking on anti-Semitism and the rise of fascism in Europe. Indeed the confluence of life and art leading to Casablanca is remarkable. The original script was written by Murray Burnett, an English teacher at Commercial High School in Manhattan, and his partner Joan Alison. In the summer of 1938, Burnett visited Europe with his wife, whose Jewish family lived in Belgium. They were then asked to go to Austria to help other Jewish relatives get money out of the country and at this time learned of the refugee trail that led, with luck, from Marseilles to Morocco to Lisbon to the United States. They visited a nightclub in Nice filled with refugees who were entertained by a black piano player. Other similarities are striking. Actress Madeleine Lebeau, who plays Yvonne as the passionate singer of “La Marseillaise”, fled Vichy France with her husband by way of Lisbon, then used a fake Chilean visa to secure passage to Mexico and ultimately was able to cross the border to the US on a Canadian visa. In many ways, the messages in Casablanca are more relevant than ever. Growing up, I was highly critical of the generation of the late 1930s and early 1940s in America who turned their backs on the plight of Jews trying to flee Nazi persecution. Now our generation is being tested — and is largely found wanting — as those persecuted in the Middle East and parts of Africa are trying desperately to be admitted to the United States. Film buffs will enjoy the “might have been” casting, the sharp elbows and conflicting claims of the several writers who had a hand in the screenplay, and the relationship of the actors during the shooting of the film. The book traces the post-Casablanca careers of Ingrid Bergman, Sidney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Claude Rains. Finally, we are reminded of the strict Hays Office code which would not have allowed Ilsa to abandon her husband and stay with Rick. Less successful are the last 75 pages or so of the book, which come across as “filler” to extend the length of the book. Eisenberg chronicles the many ways this iconic film has become the subject of satire. Proposals to colorize the original film or to produce a sequel tracing what happened to Rick and Ilsa fortunately came to nothing. A Casablanca TV series lasted just five episodes. There is much for fans of the film to enjoy and, as we struggle with immigration policy, many parallels between the refugee crisis of the 1930s and 1940s and today.

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