Everybody Comes To Rick’s

January 25, 2022

In the 1980s someone, either as a joke or an experiment, sent the screenplay of this unproduced play to various movie studios. None considered it to be a project, a handful “got it”, but most came back rejected, for their various reasons.

Not enough sex“, said one. “Too much dialogue“, said another.

The play rights were eventually bought by Warner Brothers Studio for the ridiculous sum (even then) of $20,000.

It became on the silver screen one of the greatest movies ever made.

It had what is known in the trade “lightning in a bottle“. And that is why so often, when studios try to remake a hit movie decades later, it is a dud. Look at Sabrina. You cannot simply reproduce that lightning from a formula.

It was a perfect convergence of great screenwriting (as a general rule one cannot take the script for a play and directly transfer it to the cameras). Two of the best writers at the time, Julius and Philip Epstein, were behind it. The casting was first rate, although Hedy Lemar was in the running for the part that Ingrid Bergman eventually got.

Even more amazing, when filming started, nobody knew how it would end. The screenplay was not finished.

Bergman didn’t know the ending of course and asked director Michael Curtiz how she should play the love scenes between the 2 male leads. Or was she going to leave them both?

The director, also not knowing the ending at the time, said “Play them equally”.

One of the most famous lines in the movie, remembered even 80 years later, was initially ad-libbed by one of the leads. It wasn’t even in the screenplay.

“Here’s looking at you, kid”.

Of all the gin joints, er, movies, ever made, there are probably more memorable lines here than in any other movie.

Most of the actors and actresses at Rick’s Cafe had actual reasons of their own for tearing up when they sang the La Marseillaise. They were refugees from Hitler’s Europe.

Even the actor playing the chief Nazi was wanted by the GESTAPO under a death sentence. Born in Berlin and a celebrated actor, he was the highest paid actor on this set.

He would die just a year after release of this movie while playing golf.

The movie, of course, is Casablanca.

I just saw it last night in all of its original silver screen glory, digitally restored. It’s one of those movies promoted this year by Fathom Events. Some theaters nationwide may show it again Wednesday.

I think I will go again.

As for the movie studios it goes back to the famous quote of screenwriter William Goldman, “Nobody Knows Nothin”.


Filed under Movie Review, Uncategorized

7 responses to “Everybody Comes To Rick’s

  1. We saw this a few years ago, also on the full ‘silver screen’. The best way to view it if you get the chance!

    • I agree to see it the way the director intended! One of the most dramatic examples was seeing North by Northwest a few years ago.

      To see the vastness of the area where Cary Grant gets off from the bus waiting for his contact is completely different on the big screen. It really showed the emptiness.

  2. Well, not to put too fine a point on it, y’all done brought Hizxoner to sit with me here in Kissimmee whilst I drink and feast, whichever of the two being more important I’ll not tell, and so now it’s a purchase from the iTunes store. With apologies and love to the Hobbit, more particularly the latter from Hizzoner, it’s a wonderful thing to share a moment. A blessed moment.
    Forgot to mention that NCIS is on the bewb toob, which accentuates things a tad, but it’s become summat campy of late. Minus Gibbs, Dinozzo, and Ziva, it seems the writers have resorted to the court of last resort ; which, resucitating a near dead body is desperate measures.
    So, anyway. Casablanca. #2BSeenSoon

  3. Mary Frantz

    Great article! One of my favorite older movies.

    *Casablanca was released in 1942, not the 1980’s. Not sure if you can go back in and fix the date.

  4. Peter Vasilion

    It’s been my favorite of all time since I was in grad school. I learned about the backstory to the Marseillaise scene years after I first saw it. It seems gets awful dusty no matter where I am when it plays. Odd, right?

    Probably 6 or so years ago, I saw it on the big screen at the local Regal. I came directly from the office, brown pinstripe suit, correspondent wingtips and all. And my fedora. People thought I dressed up just for the movie. I had no idea people would come dressed to see a 70 year old movie in vintage suits and dresses.

    Yes, indeed, everyone should come to Rick’s.

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