Zach on Film: Casablanca (1942)

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Of all the podcasts in all the world, 1942′s Casablanca had to be talked about on this episode of Zach on Film.

Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz and based on Murray Burnett and Joan Alison’s un-produced stage play Everybody Comes to Rick’s. The film stars Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid; and features Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Dooley Wilson. Set during World War II, it focuses on a man torn between, in the words of one character, “love and virtue”. He must choose between his love for a woman and helping her Czech Resistance leader husband escape the Vichy-controlled Moroccan city of Casablanca to continue his fight against the Nazis.

Story editor Irene Diamond convinced producer Hal Wallis to purchase the film rights to the play in January 1942. Brothers Julius J. and Philip G. Epstein were initially assigned to write the script. However, despite studio resistance, they left after the attack on Pearl Harbor to work on Frank Capra’s Why We Fight series. Howard Koch was assigned to the screenplay until the Epsteins returned. Casey Robinson assisted with three weeks of rewrites, but his work would later go uncredited. Wallis chose Curtiz to direct the film after his first choice, William Wyler, became unavailable. Filming began on May 25, 1942, and ended on August 3, and was shot entirely at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, with the exception of one sequence at Van Nuys Airport in Van Nuys.

Although Casablanca was an A-list film with established stars and first-rate writers, no one involved with its production expected it to be anything out of the ordinary. It was just one of hundreds of pictures produced by Hollywood every year.

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