We’ll Always Have Casablanca The Life, Legend, and Afterlife of Hollywood’s Most Beloved Movie 

Reviewed By  Grasshopper2       January 6, 2018


Author  Noah Isenberg

Distributor:       Booktopia/Amazon 
ISBN:                 9780571313488
Publisher:         Faber
Release Date:   December 2017  

Website:    https://www.allenandunwin.com 

For aficionados of this film, the book about Casablanca will be a MUST READ. Even for those who remember the film, or who have heard of its fame, will be intrigued by the story. Sometimes in life, the stars are in alignment and the right story, at the right, time, with the right characters, will appear and become a lasting memory. This is a fascinating description of how this film came into being, first as a story, then as a play, then later as the wonderful production that we have seen.

 Casablanca was originally made as a three act stage play called, “Everybody Comes to Rick’s.” The author, Murray Burnett, (who co-wrote with Joan Allison), was an unsophisticated Jewish man of the world, who travelled to Europe to help his wife’s family smuggle their money out of Vienna. In Austria, he experienced the Nuremberg Laws, and other aspects of anti- Semitism which he wrote about as “An indescribable horror.” Burnett learned of the Refugee Trail which led from Marseilles to Morocco, and persevered to escape the Nazi horror and return to America. His first hand experiences add so much to the authenticity of the film.

 The Epstein brothers were eventually employed to create a film from the play. They had a wonderful sense of subtle humour and understatement, as in the final scene, when a gun is emptied into a man’s chest, Renault says, “Major Strasser has been shot.” They were the pranksters of the studio, and this flippancy comes through in the movie, mostly in Rick’s speech.

 There are many stories in each chapter, and the film stars are examined closely. This was one of the young Ingrid Bergman’s first films, and she was hailed for her freshness and vitality. She was quite unconventional, refusing to pluck her eyebrows, and wear the heavy makeup for the screen. Most stars conformed in every way, so her assertiveness was quit uncommon. In her memoir, Bergman explains that, although she had some intimate scenes with Humphrey Bogart, there was no off screen chemistry between them. It seems that Humphrey Bogart was not as adored as his female lead, and frequently argued with, and exasperated the film staff.

 There is much passion in this film. When the Nazis are heard to be singing loudly in the street, Yvonne (Madelaine Lebeau) sings, “La Marseilles”, with tears running down her cheeks. The irresistible love that is denied between Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman is heartbreaking, while the spirited French resistance fight on.

 Oh, this is such an informative read that evokes memories of a story from long ago. Wonderful and elaborating, the book gives such a vital background to the story that the story of Casablanca becomes closer to our heart.