Casablanca’s 75th Anniversary


According to the AFI (ie, American Film Institute), “Casablanca” is the 2nd best film ever made. (See its list of The 100 Best Films of All-Time.) Roger Ebert was quoted as saying he thought it never got a bad review. The film’s 75th Anniversary recently occurred and it’s popularity remains. Why?

The film was completed in 1942. After an opening in NYC, it was put into wide release in January 1943. It was eligible for Academy Awards in 1944. It was nominated for 8 and won 3 (Best Film, Best Director, best screenplay). It was a combination of suspense and romance, with a bit of comedy.


Its 4 stars were in top form. Humphrey Bogart was in 1941’s The Maltese Falcon. Ingrid Bergman had 4 Oscars to come and in 1941 starred with Spencer Tracy in “Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde.” Paul Henreid, also in 1942, appeared in “Now Voyager”, lighting a cigarette for Bette Davis –and many movie goers imitated him. Claude Rains was nominated for an Oscar for his 1940 appearance in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” (He was the bad guy to Jimmy Stewart’s good guy.)

You had the script and actors. Plus the United States had entered the North African campaign and many immigrants in the film (eg, the singers in the France v. Germany National Anthems scene) had real tears in their eyes. For them, it was not acting. And you had Dooley Wilson playing “As Time Goes By” for Bergman (“Play it once, Sam. For old times’ sake.”) and, later, for Bogart (“You played it for her, you can play it for me! Sam: “I don’t think I can remember.” Bogart: “If she can stand it, I can! Play it!”) What else do you need?

How about a conversation between the 2 men competing for Bergman’s heart? “Henreid: You ran guns to Ethiopia. You fought against the fascists in Spain.” “Bogart: What of it?” “H: Isn’t it strange you always happen to be fighting on the side of the underdog?” “B: Yes. I found that a very expensive hobby, too. But then I never was much of a businessman.” “H: Are you enough of a businessman to appreciate an offer (ie, bribe) of 100,000 francs?” “B: I appreciate it, but I don’t accept it.”

How about when Bergman asks Bogart if he remembered the last day they were together, when the Germans entered Paris? Bogart: “I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray, you wore blue.”

How about Rains’ officer trying to figure out how Bogart’s bar owner got to Casablanca? “Rains: What in heaven’s name brought you to Casablanca?” “Bogart: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.” “Rains: The waters? What waters? We’re in the desert.” “Bogart: I was misinformed.”

Here are 3 stills and the dialog that goes with each. Remember them?




Still wonder why the film is so popular?








About rcarmean

Two things... First, why have I decided to establish this blog? I like to put essays together. I research an idea or topic looking for information, statistics, stories, quotes, pictures, etc. I enjoy the process and seeing a finished product. I’m told that as I get older, new activities can help maintain energy and keep my brain alert. In other words, I am not doing this for money or fame. Second, regarding the gentleman in the collage of pictures's not me. Those are photos of Christy Mathewson. Why him? When I was young, my primary activity was being sick. It took up much of my time. Eczema (a case so bad I was written up in a medical journal showing doctors what their patients COULD look like), asthma, and allergies. You know allergies: don’t eat this, don’t wear that, and, for Heaven’s sake, don’t touch any of these things (eg, dogs, cats, horses --I only saw horses in cowboy movies and TV shows, dust, swimming pools, my brother --OK, that’s an exaggeration, Rick was a fine brother). In my spare time between doctors' appointments, pills, and ointments, baseball kept me sane. In the 1940s and 1950s, when I grew up, pro footballI and basketball had not yet become extremely popular. Baseball truly was “the national pastime.” I listened to games on the radio (remember it? TV without the picture). I read magazines, books, and newspaper accounts of games. I collected baseball cards. I learned about the game’s history, as well as present. The same with its stars. One man stood out: Christy Mathewson. He was a great pitcher for the New York Giants in the early 20th century. But there was much more to him. At a time when professional athletes made little money (yes, there was such a time) and ball players were considered on the same level as actors, artists, and prostitutes, Mathewson stood out. One of his nicknames was: “The Christian Gentleman.” Most men is baseball drank, smoked, cursed, and fought —with other players, umpires, and fans. The fights were physical, not just verbal. Mathewson did none of these things. But he earned the respect of other players who did them all. Even Ty Cobb and John McGraw. There’s more. He was a college graduate (Bucknell University) when most men were lucky to have a high school diploma. He played other sports, including pro football which you wouldn’t recognize. He was handsome. He played in New York City, then as now, the largest city in the country. Excellence and popularity there meant fame and money. He dressed well. Today, his commercials would rival LeBron’s. And, finally, a hero’s life must have tragedy. After his playing career ended, WWI arrived. He suffered from influenza and was exposed to mustard gas. Chemical warfare. His lungs were damaged and he required treatment for the rest of his life. (Like my Grandfather who also fought in The Great War.) He died in 1925. He was 45 years old. I have his picture here because you need to know more about him than me. He was what an athlete could be. Players like him and their accomplishments got me through a sickly, painful childhood and can still sustain me in difficult times. *****
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1 Response to Casablanca’s 75th Anniversary

  1. Marc Kuhn says:

    Well, you at least motivated me to look this one up. I am proabably one of the rare few who has never seen it start-to-finish. I’ve seen many parts, but never all together…on the bucket list it goes. And, oh yeah, I liked last week’s “Sorry I”m late. I didn’t want to come.” Being the age I am now, I may actuall use that and not even feel guilty about it.1


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