Produced by Warner Bros. and released in Nov. 26, 1942 in New York and nationwide Jan. 23, 1943, black and white 35mm negative, 1.37:1 screen ratio, mono sound, 102 mins., Laserdisc released 1991, DVD released 1998.



Academy Awards:

  1. Winner, Best Picture, Warner Brothers
  2. Winner, Best Director, Michael Curtiz
  3. Winner, Writing (screenplay), Julius J. Epstein, Phillip G. Epstein, Howard Koch
  4. Nomination, Best Actor, Humphrey Bogart
  5. Nomination, Best Supporting Actor, Claude Rains
  6. Nominations: Cinematography (B&W), Score; Editing
  7. Notes:

    In this wartime romance melodrama spanning 2 days in Vichy-controlled French Morocco Dec. 2-4, 1941, Humphrey Bogart is Rick, the cynical American who once ran guns to Ethiopia and fought in the Spanish Civil War, and Ingrid Bergman is Ilsa, the woman he last saw in Paris at La Belle Aurore just before the Germans occupied the city in June 1940, but who left him and now reenters his life with her husband Laszlo. The film was a product of the studio system at its height, filmed in 59 days from May 25 to August 3, 1942, at a cost of $878,000 under wartime restrictions (especially the prohibition on any location filming, set construction, costume design). It was popular with most critics and audiences and made Warner Bros. a profit of $5,000,000.

    The origin of the film grew out of the events reshaping Europe in the late 1930s. The fall of Ethiopia to Mussolini's fascist army in 1936 sent a shock wave through the democracies of Europe. Spanish revolutionaries sang La Marseillaise in 1931 and celebrated the new Spanish Republic, but civil war brought about the collapse of the new government as Hitler and Mussolini sent military aid to Franco. As Barcelona and Valencia and Madrid fell to the fascists in 1939, thousands of refugees fled Spain for France, North Africa, Mexico. These refugees also included Jews fleeing Hitler's concentration camps after the Nuremberg laws began in 1935, the occupation of the Rhineland in 1936, of Austria and Czechoslovakia in the Anschluss of 1938. The newsreel story "The Refugee" in the March of Time issue of Dec. 23, 1938 dramatized the plight of these refugees. With the Nazi-Soviet pact of August 23, 1939, and Hitler's invasion of Poland Sept. 1, Europe was officially plunged into war. Schoolteacher Murray Burnett and his wife were in Europe in 1938 and witnessed the rise of the Nazis and the growing flood of refugees. They visited a cafe on the southern coast of France called La Belle Aurore and listened to a black pianist play to an audience of many nationalities. Burnett returned to the United States to write with Joan Alison the 1940 play Everybody Comes to Rick's about a mysterious man named Rick Blaine who ran a cafe in Casablanca. Rick helps his former girlfriend Lois Meredith flee to safety with the Czech refugee Victor Lazlo being pursued by the German agent Strasser. However, America was fearful of foreign wars and the play failed to find a producer. Isolationist fantasies such as the Wizard of Oz released Aug. 15, 1939, were more popular. But Hollywood was beginning to change in 1940. Alfred Hitchcock released Foreign Correspondent August 27, 1940, with a timely end scene of reporter Johnny Jones warning America from the Blitz in London. March of Time released Ramparts We Watch August 30, 1940, using World War I as a history lesson to teach the new generation about the need for unity and preparedness. The success of Sergeant York in the summer of 1941 ($6 million in profits) convinced Warner Bros to shift from genre and low-cost B pictures to high-quality war and action pictures with big-name stars. Steven Karnot at Warner Bros. recommended the play to Hal Wallis who decided in 1941 to produce the movie. Wallis picked tough guy Humphrey Bogart to play the love interest of Ingrid Bergman, and on Dec. 31, 1941, changed the name of the film to "Casablanca."


    revised 3/24/03 by Schoenherr | Filmnotes