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The Scroll

No. 12: Casablanca

Hollywood at the service of the people who invented it

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1942, dir. Michael Curtiz. Casablanca was produced by Jack L. Warner; directed by Michael Curtiz; written by two twins named Epstein and the soon-to-be-blacklisted Howard Koch; and in its supporting roles is dominated by Jewish European character actors Peter Lorre and S.Z. Sakall. Viewed today, Casablanca’s overt, strong moralizing of World War II is so brain-dead obvious as to go completely unnoticed. But the movie was released in 1942 and made before that, when it was by no means the consensus that the Nazis were the worst group of people ever to threaten the face of the earth, and a film that depicted them as such—without the clarifying Manicheanism of, say, an actual battlefield—was actually taking a distinct polemical stand. Every villain needs a victim, and in Casablanca, the explicit victims are France and the French. But take a look again at the people who actually made the movie, and you won’t see any French names. Which isn’t to say that the victims of Casablanca, or of the Nazis, were exclusively the Jews; it’s that it took American Jews working in maybe their greatest creation—Hollywood—to show the world that the Nazis’ victims were the same people who come to Rick’s: everybody.

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Great, fabulously written review.

And I was going to add this to the list of movies in my head I would argue DO NOT BELONG ON A LIST OF JEWISH MOVIES, but you convinced me.

margaretreines says:

The film’s ‘extras’ were largely Europeans who were also (as their counterparts in the film) in a state of flux with regard to resettlement – thus adding to  the film’s  authenticity.  Also- it was not decided until the last minute as to whether or no Ilsa (Ingrid Berman) would end up with Rick (flawless as Bogart) thus enhancing the genuine nervousness of   the  film’s characters and  subsequent fluidity.  Incidentally Ingrid Bergman was 5’10”  (taller than Bogart) and thus needed to be photographed at particular angles to obviate the latter.
My favourite moment – when the audience at Rick’s ( with Rick’s nodding agreement) drowns out a German drinking song  – led by  Major Strasser  (Conrad Veidt)- to sing the Marsellaise.
One of the  many memorable quotes: 
“What is your nationality?” – to Rick from Claude Rains. Rick replies “I’m a drunkard.’

alottadreck says:

…Not just Lorre and Sakall but MOST of the character parts were played by recently arrived Jewish immigrants


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No. 12: Casablanca

Hollywood at the service of the people who invented it

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