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Hailed by some reviewers as “the best Hollywood movie of all time,” Casablanca remains a much-loved classic film. Follow along as Tidbits digs up the facts on this 1942 favorite.
• Actor Humphrey Bogart was 42 years old when he took on the role of Rick Blaine, an American who owned a swanky nightclub and gambling establishment, Rick’s Café Americain, in Casablanca, Morocco. The club was known in the underground as a place to obtain papers that helped refugees escape German-occupied Europe.
• When Rick’s former flame, Ilsa, (played by Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman) entered the club, accompanied by her husband, a fugitive Czech Resistance leader, Rick fought to overcome his bitterness toward her, because she had abruptly left him in Paris with no explanation. When Ilsa explained that she had thought her husband had been killed, Rick realized that he must try to get the couple out of Morocco.
• The original play was entitled Everybody Comes to Rick’s, but was changed to Casablanca for the movie. It was co-authored by a high school teacher who was on summer vacation.
• Casablanca contained many now well-known quotes, including “Here’s looking at you, kid,” and “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” One of the most familiar misquotes is “Play it again, Sam,” which was never spoken in the film. When Ilsa entered Rick’s club, she asked the piano player to, “Play it once, Sam, for old times’ sake. Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By.’”
• The role of Sam was played by Dooley Wilson, who was actually a drummer, who had to fake playing the piano. In 2012, Sam’s piano sold for upwards of $600,000 at a New York auction.
• The studio took out a $100,000 insurance policy on Humphrey Bogart in the event that he would die during filming. Following the film’s success, Bogart moved from fourth place to first place in the studio’s roster of stars, and within three years, he was the world’s highest-paid actor. Because he was shorter than co-star Bergman, Bogart had to wear platform shoes during the filming of Casablanca to bring him up to her height.
• Due to heightened security during World War II, filming was not allowed at an airport after dark. Only one scene, that of the Nazi villain arriving in Casablanca, was shot at an airport, the Van Nuys, California Airport. The remainder of the movie was filmed in the studio, using a sound stage with a cardboard cutout airplane. The arched hanger at the airport was built in 1928, and was rescued from the wrecking ball in 2007. The façade sat in a hotel parking lot for several years, but plans are in place to restore it and incorporate it into a Moroccan-themed restaurant at the airport.
• Release of the film was scheduled for early 1943, but the debut was moved up to November, 1942 to correspond with the Allied Forces’ capture of Casablanca the second week of November.
• Casablanca cost $950,000 to film, about $100,000 over budget. The film won three Oscars – for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay. The famous song “As Time Goes By” had been composed in 1931, so it was declared ineligible for the Best Song of the Year.