Casablanca was first released in 1942, just two weeks after the city of Casablanca itself surrendered to American troops led by General Patton. Featuring a pitch-perfect screenplay, a classic soundtrack, and unforgettable performances by Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and a deep supporting cast, Casablanca was hailed in the New York Times as "a picture that makes the spine tingle and the heart take a leap".
We'll Always Have Casablanca is celebrated film historian Noah Isenberg's rich account of this most beloved movie's origins. Through extensive research and interviews with filmmakers, film critics, family members of the cast and crew, and diehard fans, Isenberg reveals the myths and realities behind Casablanca's production, exploring the transformation of the unproduced stage play into the classic screenplay, the controversial casting decisions, the battles with Production Code censors, and the effect of the war's progress on the movie's reception.
Finally, Isenberg turns to Casablanca's long afterlife and the reasons it remains so revered. From the Marx Brothers' 1946 spoof hit, A Night in Casablanca, to loving parodies in New Yorker cartoons, Saturday Night Live skits, and Simpsons episodes, Isenberg delves into the ways the movie has lodged itself in the American psyche.
"Whether you're a Casablanca devotee or just a film-history buff, the story of how the iconic movie got made and what the world made of it is downright fascinating, even a kind of narrative nonfiction thriller." (Booklist, starred review)
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Good for fans, would've liked more insider info
To be fair, re-reading the summary, it was as advertised. But I would have preferred more of the insider stories about the rivalries over the script, interaction between the actors, and more backstories of the various émigrés in the cast and crew.
More in-depth information about the various scripts and scriptwriters, and a more detailed picture of exactly who provided what to the final screenplay. From the original, if a bit clunky, story from the playwrights Burnett and Alison, the wit of the Epsteins, the political sensibility of Koch, and the romance from Robinson, we're left with mostly broad strokes. Perhaps there's not much more to tell, but it seems an interesting tale if there is.
Overall, it was okay, but a viewing of the film might have helped the narrator quote the lines in the manner they were delivered. Not a major problem, but it's just enough to realize that the reader may not be familiar with the film, which is a bit of a distraction.
If you're a fan of the film, as I am, it'll be worth the time. If you've never seen the film, it'll make you want to see it.
Honestly, the book has a lot of filler. I could have done with less of the various homages, satire and talk of remakes and sequels. To the book's credit, there are testimonials that should inspire younger generations to check out the film.