Podcast Episode 116: 'Casablanca' Still Going Strong At 75
Film's story of refugees proves surprisingly timely
You must remember this … after 75 years, the film “Casablanca” still maintains an iconic place in pop culture. A new book explores the life, legend and afterlife of Hollywood’s most beloved film.
In November 1942, Warner Brothers invited audiences into Rick’s Café American. There, we met its jaded American expatriate owner Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), the beautiful and enigmatic Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman), the heroic Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), the loyal piano player Sam (Dooley Wilson) and the deliciously corrupt French captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains).
It is a film that even if people have never seen it they may still quote lines like “Here’s looking at you kid” or “play it again Sam.” (Technically, the line is "Play it Sam," but it is often misquoted as "Play it again Sam," especially after Woody Allen's play and movie paying tribute to Bogart used that as its title.)
Bogart's cynical romantic in a trench coat with cigarette in hand inspired imitations ranging from Bugs Bunny to Woody Allen and then jumped the Atlantic to get a tribute from French heartthrob Jean-Paul Belmondo in “Breathless.”
Author Noah Isenberg has written a tribute to the film called “We’ll Always Have Casablanca.” Isenberg previously chronicled the life of director Edgar G. Ulmer so it is a considerable change of pace to go from a filmmaker on the fringes of the studio system to a film that has come to define the legacy of glamorous Hollywood.
For this podcast, I speak with Isenberg about the legacy of “Casablanca” and how topical this story of refugees proves to be right now, and I also speak with a few people at this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival where a 75th-anniversary screening was held earlier this month.
I leave you with this clip. There are so many great, memorable scenes but the scene where Sam plays "As Time Goes By" may be the most iconic.