“We’ll Always Have Casablanca” by Noah Isenberg— The Story Behind the Movie

Isenberg, Noah. “We’ll Always Have Casablanca”, W. W. Norton & Company  2017.

The Story Behind the Movie

Amos Lassen

Released in 1942, “Casablanca” has had more revival screenings than any movie in history. It has an almost perfect screenplay, a wonderful soundtrack, and unforgettable performances by Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and its supporting cast. It won Oscars for best picture, best director, and best screenplay and permanently found its place in the culture of America. Here film historian Noah Isenberg shares the origin of the film and tells us about what went on behind the scenes. His research is amazing and consists of interviews with filmmakers, film critics, family members of the cast and crew, and fans and he gives us “the myths and realities” behind the production that began as an unproduced stage play that became a classic screenplay, the casting decisions, the battles with Production Code censors, and how the war’s progress affected its production.

Isenberg focuses on the central role refugees from Hitler’s Europe played in the production (nearly all of the actors and actresses cast in “Casablanca” were immigrants). He looks at the film in terms of its afterlife as well and how it has caused there to be parodies, satires and spoofs but more than that he looks at how the film has ensconced itself in the

American mind. We get new and fresh insights into its creation, production, and legacy and see what made the movie so popular and why it continues to charm audiences some seventy-five years after its release. This is a fun and educative read and keeps the readers turning pages as quickly as possible. Now I feel like I have to watch the movie again as I hold the book to check myself on what I have seen. Isenberg makes viewing the movie again as an entirely new experience. With its themes of of war and exile and romantic self-sacrifice, we see that the film was a mirror of what many experienced at that time.

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