November 26 marks the 75th anniversary of the premier of the wartime drama “Casablanca,’’ one of the greatest, most beloved, most quoted — and misquoted — movies of all time.
The film is based on the unpublished play “Everybody Comes to Rick’s” that was co-written by by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison. Julius Epstein, Philip Epstein, and Howard Koch rewrote the story for the big screen.
The movie stars Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid, with Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Dooley Wilson in supporting roles.
Every movie aficionado knows the plot: Rick Blaine (Bogart), a jaded American expat running a cafe in Vichy-controlled Casablanca, must choose between his love for a woman, Ilsa Lund (Bergman), or help her and her husband, Czech resistance leader Victor Laszlo (Henreid), escape from Casablanca to continue his fight against Nazi Germany.
“Casablanca” received mostly positive reviews and did well, though not spectacularly, at the box office. In 1943, it won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Director (Michael Curtiz), and Adapted Screenplay (the Epsteins and Koch).
What helped “Casablanca” become an iconic film was its repeated showing at Harvard University’s Brattle Theater in the 1950s. The showings were very popular, and soon other colleges have adopted the tradition as well. “Casablanca” would find succeeding generations of viewers with the advent of television. By 1977, “Casablanca” was the most frequently broadcast film on American TV.
“Casablanca” endures because of its great cast, superb screenwriting that produced some of cinema’s greatest quotes, the memorable music score from Max Steiner, the notions of sacrifice and redemption during wartime, and a hero for the ages.
In commemorating the first 100 years of the 100 greatest American movies of all time in 1998, the American Film Institute placed “Casablanca” second, behind “Citizen Kane.”
To mark the 75th anniversary, 24/7 Wall St. created a list of 20 things you need to know about “Casablanca” by drawing on sources such as The Internet Movie Database, Atlantic Monthly magazine, The New York Times, Britannica.com, Brattlefilm.org.