Round Up the Usual Suspects: The Making of Casablanca: Bogart, Bergman, and World War II

Aljean Harmetz, Author
Aljean Harmetz, Author Hyperion Books $24.95 (402p) ISBN 978-1-56282-941-4
Reviewed on: 11/02/1992
Release date: 11/01/1992
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-1-56282-761-8
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Harmetz ( The Making of The Wizard of Oz ) brings both spirit and a substantial knowledge of Hollywood to her anatomy of the making of many people's favorite film. `` Casablanca was a mosaic of fortune--good and bad,'' she writes, and she draws on a broad range of interviews and documents to conjure up the film world of 1942. Especially interesting are her meticulously researched accounts of the much-debated ending and the evolution of the script, which was based on an unproduced play but delicately balanced with gags and politics by competing screenwriters. Harmetz provides sketches of the stars Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart (``Saint and sinner,'' she says of their Hollywood personas, adding that their ``real-life sexuality . . . was almost reversed on screen''), the ``thick layers of character actors'' like Claude Rains and Sydney Greenstreet, and the intense, mercurial director, Hungarian Jewish refugee Michael Curtiz. The Production Code forced the writers to approach sex with subtlety, while a ``rich underlay'' of American popular music made Rick's Cafe seem an American oasis. Harmetz also updates the careers of the movie's principals and describes how the ``cult of Casablanca '' was born in 1957 at an art cinema near Harvard University. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
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