It’s one of the most famous lines in the history of Hollywood. But oddly, at no point during the classic 1942 movie Casablanca does any character utter the words, “Play it again, Sam.” Here are some more facts and stories from one of the greatest movies of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
PLAY IT AGAIN
The plot for Casablanca was based on an unproduced Broadway play called Everybody Comes to Rick’s. When the play’s writers, Murray Burnett and Joan Alison, couldn’t find anyone willing to stage it in a theater, they happily sold all their rights to the story and its characters to Warner Bros. for an incredible $20,000—a record sum at the time. Burnett and Alison, however, could scarcely have foreseen just how popular and successful their story would go on to become, and even that fee—equivalent to more than $300,000 today—was a pittance compared to what they could have earned if they had retained some control over their idea. Ultimately, in 1983 the pair unsuccessfully took Warner Bros. to court in a failed attempt to take back control of their characters. To retain their copyright, however, Warner Bros. later agreed to award Burnett and Alison $100,000 apiece and permitted them the right to produce their original play as it had been in the 1940s. Everybody Comes to Rick’s was finally staged in London in 1991—but closed after just a month.
CAST IT AGAIN
When Warner Bros. first announced that they were making Casablanca, a note appeared in the Hollywood Reporter claiming that the part of Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart’s character) was to be played by Ronald Reagan. Ingrid Bergman’s Ilsa Lund, meanwhile, was originally due to be played by Ann Sheridan, Reagan’s co-star from King’s Row (and, coincidentally, Humphrey Bogart’s co-star from 1938’s Angels With Dirty Faces). The announcement, however, appears to have been little more than conjecture, as neither star was ever officially attached to the project (and at that time, Ronald Reagan was currently enrolled in the US Cavalry Reserve).
THE BEGINNING OF A BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP
The film’s shoot was not without its problems, and when the time came to shoot the very first scene—a flashback scene based in Paris—the script had still not been finalized. As a result, Ingrid Bergman still didn’t know whether her character was supposed to be in love with Rick Blaine or Victor Laszlo (played by Paul Henreid). Turning to the director, Michael Curtiz, for advice, Bergman was dismayed to find out that even he didn’t know how the movie would pan out—and so suggested that Bergman “play it in between,” and act the scene as if both characters simultaneously were and were not her love interest. As it happened, the effect worked perfectly.
Many of the original publicity posters for Casablanca depicted Bogart, in his trademark trench-coat and fedora hat, wielding a gun. If you look for that shot in the movie, however, you’ll be disappointed: The image comes from one of the publicity shots for an earlier Bogart vehicle, 1942’s Across the Pacific. The same poster artist, Bill Gold, was hired to produce the publicity artwork for both movies and—without a final cut of Casablanca to go on—Gold simply reused a picture from Bogart’s preceding film.