Daily Dialogue — February 15, 2014

February 15th, 2014 by

Ugarte: You despise me, don’t you?
Rick: If I gave you any thought I probably would.

—-

Major Strasser: What is your nationality?
Rick: I’m a drunkard.

—-

Captain Renault: What brought you to Casablanca?
Rick: My health. I came for the water.
Captain Renault: We’re in a desert.
Rick: I was misinformed.

Casablanca (1942), screenplay by Julius J. Epstein & Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch, play by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison

The Daily Dialogue theme for the week is sarcasm, recommended by blueneumann. Today’s suggestion by @dottiehudson and @sergiobarrejon.

Trivia: It is never revealed why Rick cannot return to America. Julius J. Epstein later said that “My brother (Philip G. Epstein) and I tried very hard to come up with a reason why Rick couldn’t return to America. But nothing seemed right. We finally decided not to give a reason at all.”

Dialogue On Dialogue: Rick uses sarcasm as a defense mechanism, best defense being a good offense. That’s where he starts. But as he goes through Deconstruction, notice how uses sarcasm less and less. Psychologically speaking, that is a sign of him allowing his more idealistic self to emerge, eventually leading to the choices he makes at the end and in effect join the fight.

Daily Dialogue — January 8, 2014

January 8th, 2014 by

Rick: Louie, have your men go with Mr. Laszlo and take care of his luggage.
Renault: Certainly, Rick, anything you say. (to one of his men) Find Mr. Laszlo’s luggage and put it on the plane.
Man: Yes, sir.
Rick: (to Renault) If you don’t mind, you fill in the names. That will make it even more official.
Renault: You think of everything, don’t you?
Rick: The names of Mr. and Mrs. Victor Laszlo.
Ilsa: But why my name, Richard.
Rick: Because you’re getting on that plane.
Ilsa: I don’t understand. What about you?
Rick: I’m staying here with him until the plane gets safely away.
Ilsa: No, Richard. What’s happened to you? Last night…
Rick: Last night we said a great many things. You said I was to do the thinking for both of us. Well, I’ve done a lot of it since then, and it all adds up to one thing: you’re getting on that plane with Victor where you belong.

Casablanca (1942), screenplay by Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, and Howard Koch, play by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison

The Daily Dialogue theme for the week: Explain the mission, suggested by Shaula Evans.

Trivia: To maximize profits from foreign distribution of the film, the studio suggested that any unpleasant characters other than the Nazis should also be from an enemy country, namely Italy. This is why Ugarte, Ferrari, and the dark European pickpocket are Italian.

Dialogue On Dialogue: It’s one of the great scenes in cinema history and in effect it is about Rick explaining the plan to Ilsa. The structural point of the scene: To get Ilsa on the plane and safely away with Laszlo. The emotional point of the scene: For Rick and Ilsa to have a last moment together.

Daily Dialogue — September 11, 2013

September 11th, 2013 by

Ilsa: I wasn’t sure you were the same. Let’s see, the last time we met…
Rick: Was La Belle Aurore.
Ilsa: How nice, you remembered. But of course, that was the day the Germans marched into Paris.
Rick: Not an easy day to forget.
Ilsa: No.
Rick: I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray, you wore blue.

Casablanca (1942), screenplay by Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, and Howard Koch, play by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison

The Daily Dialogue theme for the week is reunion, suggested by Laura Deerfield. Today’s suggestion by Ellen Musikant.

Trivia: Casey Robinson, who re-wrote the romantic scenes between Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, was offered screen credit but turned it down because at the time he was only taking credit for scripts he wrote entirely by himself. By declining credit, he did himself out of an Academy Award.

Dialogue On Dialogue: This is not only backstory, this is the very first step in Rick’s ‘descent’ into the dark hole of his personal history, a necessary journey for him to take in order to reconnect himself with his idealism and come out the other side back into the fight.

Conscious Goal and Unconscious Goal

August 16th, 2013 by

An interesting discussion arose from this post the other day on the question how to raise the stakes in a plot. I suggested one way was to track a shift that often happens with a Protagonist — from Want to Need — and one of the movie examples I cited in my analysis was Casablanca.

matthewkane noted this in comments:

This is a reason for the romcom trope of one or both of the romantic leads to have no interest in romance until the midpoint. When romance complicates the original goal, it ups the stakes. Though it’s usually good to add another complication at the same time to stretch the rack tighter from both directions.

My response:

Matthew, your point illustrates why I oftentimes think of character work this way: Want and Need can refer to the generalized state of what a Protagonist brings into the story at its beginning. By the end of Act One, they have may have crystallized things into a Conscious Goal, a specific target they have in mind, and an Unstated or Unconscious Goal, a specific psychological end point that emerges from their inner world.

So for example, Rick in Casablanca:

The Want he brings into the story is to be left alone to run his business so he can busy himself with avoiding dealing with the pain of the past (associated with his loss of Ilsa).

Since that way of being has led him to isolationism, the Need he brings into the story is to break out of his cynicism.

In Act One: Enter Ilsa, Victor Laszlo, and the letters of transit. How does this sharpen his Want and Need?

Conscious Goal: Determine what to do with letters of transit.

Unconscious Goal: Confront pain of the past [when Ilsa rejected him] and resolve that relationship.

In dealing with those new narrative elements — letters of transit, Ilsa, Victor — Rick goes on his own psychological journey resulting in the classic ending we all know and love.

I also should note, per the language of Michael Arndt (screenwriter of Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3) who says a great ending must answer a philosophical question, Rick confronts an existential choice: Cynicism or Idealism? He opts for the latter, choosing to ‘sacrifice’ his love for Ilsa for the greater good, represented by Victor’s work as a freedom fighter.

Per your observation about romcoms having “no interest in romance until the midpoint,” it’s interesting to note that the Paris flashback sequence doesn’t happen in Casablanca until the middle of the movie (in a commonly available 127 page version of the script, the sequence ends at P. 61). That flashback represents the very first time we’ve seen what the romance between Rick and Ilsa had been, and understand how and why Rick has been so badly hurt on an emotional level when it ended. So even though not a romcom, your point is relevant to Casablanca.

The usual caveats: This is all psychological language which is in a way ‘artificial’ when applied to a story, organic by its very nature. Some writers may benefit from using these tools — Want, Need, Conscious Goal, Unconscious Goal — others may not. Our goal is to create living, breathing characters in a living, breathing story universe. We do what we can do to get there.

But in my teaching, often I find writers benefit from honing in on a Protagonist’s Conscious Goal and Unconscious Goal at the end of Act One as it sharpens their understanding of their story’s structure and the nature of the Protagonist’s metamorphosis.

30 Days of Screenplays, Day 15: “Casablanca”

June 15th, 2013 by

Welcome to June and the series: 30 Days of Screenplays.

Why 30 screenplays in 30 days?

Because whether you are a novice just starting to learn the craft of screenwriting or someone who has been writing for many years, you should be reading scripts.

There is a certain type of knowledge and understanding about screenwriting you can only get from reading scripts, giving you an innate sense of pace, feel, tone, style, how to approach writing scenes, how create flow, and so forth.

So each day this month, I will provide background on and access to a notable movie script.

Today is Day 15 and the featured screenplay is for the movie Casablanca. You may download a PDF of the script here.

Background: Screenplay by Julius J. Epstein & Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch, based on a play by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison

Plot summary: Set in unoccupied Africa during the early days of World War II: An American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications.

Tagline: They had a date with fate in Casablanca!

Awards: Nominated for 8 Academy Awards, winning 3 including Best Writing, Screenplay.

Trivia: The original unproduced play, “Everybody Comes to Rick’s”, was found by Irene Lee, who headed the story department at Warner Bros., on a trip to office of Jack Wilk, story editor for Warner East Coast operations in New York, where the typed script had sat for a year. It arrived at Warner Bros. Studios to be read as a potential film project on the day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

http://www.oldsweetsong.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/movie_poster_casablanca.jpg

Voted the #1 screenplay on the WGA 101 list, the irony is that there never was a completed script during production. The script we’re reading for the 40 Days challenge is a “synthesis of extant versions” and a “close analysis of the finished film.”

And yet, it is a wonderful script with great characters, memorable dialogue, and perhaps the most famous romantic triangle ever in a movie.

I look at Casablanca in much the same way as Witness: B-movies where the gods of cinema intervened, transforming them into timeless stories.

Since coming up with the ending of the movie was fraught with so much drama, I thought I’d dig into the Final Struggle to see what we could glean from it.

First, it’s a great example of having a plot with a strong “end point.” As soon as the romantic triangle is established — when Ilsa and Victor Laszlo show up at Rick’s cafe — it is inevitable this core question / conflict will have to be resolved: Who gets the girl? So all throughout Act II and into Act III, no matter what is happening in any given scene, that dramatic tension is present, either close to the surface of the dialogue and action or suppressed due to events, but always present. That’s one of the values of a story having a strong end point.

Next, there are the five primary character archetypes are at work in Casablanca:

Protagonist — Rick Blaine
Nemesis — Major Strasser
Attractor — Ilsa
Mentor — Victor
Trickster — Renault

And the movie neatly ties up the fate of each one because all five are present in the ending sequence.

P — Rick overcomes his cynicism by letting go of Ilsa and thereby re-enters ‘life’
N — He ends up dead, his plot to keep Victor in Casablanca fails
A — Ilsa ends up with the ‘right’ guy
M — Victor escapes to continue to lead the resistance movement
T — In true Trickster fashion, Renault ends up not only watching Rick’s back — “Round up the usual suspects” — but also heading off with Rick to join the resistance, too

The next thing I noticed about the scene are all the plot twists in it:

* Rick orders Renault to give Ilsa and Victor the letters of transit

* Rick explains to Ilsa why he changed his mind

* Rick tells the truth to Laszlo about what happened with he and Ilsa the night before

* Rick shoots Major Strasser

* Renault doesn’t turn in Rick for the shooting of Majro Strasser

* Renault joins Rick in leaving Casablanca

It’s a long sequence and all those twists provide nice pivot points for the reader to keep them on their toes.

Finally, the finale in Casablancais a great example of a sequence with a clear Beginning, Middle, and End:

Beginning: Arrival at the airport with the big plot point — Rick insisting to Renault that Ilsa and Victor use the letters of transit.

Middle: Rick dealing with the couple — convincing Ilsa she has to go with Victor and his ‘confession’ to Victor.

Ending: Rick’s confrontation with Strasser and the plane takes off.

There’s even a nifty denouement: Rick and Renault concocting a plan to head off together to the French Free garrison.

In sum, a most satisfying ending to a great story.

What’s your take on Casablanca? Stop by comments and post your thoughts.

To see all of the posts in the 30 Days of Screenplays series, go here.

This series and use of screenplays is for educational purposes only!

Studies in flashbacks: “Casablanca”

March 4th, 2013 by

I set this discussion into motion here and here. To wit: Hollywood conventional wisdom is that voice-over narration and flashbacks are a no-no, yet some of the greatest movies ever produced use these narrative devices including Fight Club, Goodfellas, The Silence of the Lambs, and Rashomon.

My conclusion: Voice-over narration and flashbacks are not inherently bad, rather they are tainted by how poorly they get executed by inexperienced writers.

Goal: Find five movies in which each is used well, then analyze those movies to come up with – hopefully – guidelines on how best to handle this pair of narrative devices.

Today the first of five movies that use flashbacks: Casablanca, the famous 1942 movie, screenplay by Julius Epstein & Philip Epstein and Howard Koch, play by Murray Burnett and Joan Allison.

Setup: Out of nowhere Ilsa Lund has reappeared in Rick’s life. He gets good and drunk, then remembers key events from his past that broke his heart, a sequence known as the Paris montage. Here is a breakdown of the scenes:

* The Arc de Triomphe
* Rick and Ilsa driving in a car
* An excursion boat on the Seine
* Rick’s Paris apartment
* A Paris cafe
* Newsreel footage: German occupation of France
* Paris cafe: Germans will enter the city soon
* La Belle Aurore: Drinking champagne, Ilsa’s mood is unsettled, plans to meet at the train station
* Gare De Lyon train station: In the rain, Rick receives a note from Ilsa. It reads:

“Richard, I cannot go with you or see you again. You must not ask why. Just believe that I love you. Go, my darling, and God bless you. Ilsa”

Stunned Rick tosses the letter aside as the train pulls away.

Here is part of the sequence:

The entire sequence is 8 pages long in the script. All of it flashbacks. Why does it work? Here are two takeaways:

* The sequence has a beginning, middle and end, a well-structured montage.

* Most importantly the sequence answers a critical question: What the hell happened between Rick and Ilsa?

So if your story needs an extended flashback sequence, make sure it has a strong structure, and serves a necessary and important function in the story. You’re probably in the ballpark if you’re working with a mystery where the answers gets revealed.

Okay, I can hear some of you: “Casablanca is an OLD movie. Maybe flashbacks worked back then, but not in contemporary movies.”

Uh, wrong.

Tomorrow: The Social Network.

And remember, use flashbacks if they are the only and best way to tell your story.

Happy Birthday, “Casablanca”

January 23rd, 2013 by

Casablanca was released 70 years ago today: January 23, 1943. [It had its world premiere on November 26, 1942 in New York City.] It is one of the most iconic movies of all time, voted the #1 screenplay of all time by the WGA which is ironic because apparently there never was a finished script. Check out the Wikipedia entry on the writing of the movie:

The original play was inspired by a trip to Europe made by Murray Burnett in 1938, during which he visited Vienna shortly after the Anschluss, where he saw discrimination by Nazis first-hand. In the south of France, he came across a nightclub, which had a multinational clientele and the prototype of Sam, the black piano player. In the play, the Ilsa character was an American named Lois Meredith and did not meet Laszlo until after her relationship with Rick in Paris had ended; Rick was a lawyer. To make Rick’s motivation more believable, Wallis, Curtiz, and the screenwriters decided to set the film before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The first writers assigned to the script were the Epstein twins, Julius and Philip who, against the wishes of Warner Brothers, left after the attack on Pearl Harbor at Frank Capra’s request to work on the “Why We Fight” series in Washington, D.C. While they were gone, the other credited writer, Howard Koch was assigned to the script and produced some thirty to forty pages. When the Epstein brothers returned after a month, they were reassigned to Casablanca and—contrary to what Koch claimed in two published books—his work was not used. In the final Warner Brothers budget for the film, the Epsteins were paid $30,416 and Koch $4,200.

The uncredited Casey Robinson assisted with three weeks of rewrites, including contributing the series of meetings between Rick and Ilsa in the cafe. Koch highlighted the political and melodramatic elements, while Curtiz seems to have favored the romantic parts, insisting on retaining the Paris flashbacks. Wallis wrote the final line (“Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”) after shooting had been completed. Bogart had to be called in a month after the end of filming to dub it. Despite the many writers, the film has what Ebert describes as a “wonderfully unified and consistent” script. Koch later claimed it was the tension between his own approach and Curtiz’s which accounted for this: “Surprisingly, these disparate approaches somehow meshed, and perhaps it was partly this tug of war between Curtiz and me that gave the film a certain balance.” Julius Epstein would later note the screenplay contained “more corn than in the states of Kansas and Iowa combined. But when corn works, there’s nothing better.”

The film ran into some trouble from Joseph Breen of the Production Code Administration (the Hollywood self-censorship body), who opposed the suggestions that Captain Renault extorted sexual favors from his supplicants, and that Rick and Ilsa had slept together in Paris. Extensive changes were made, with several lines of dialogue removed and/or altered, and all direct references to sex in the film removed. Additionally, when Sam played “As Time Goes By” in the original script, Rick had remarked “What the —— are you playing?” This line implying a curse word was removed at the behest of the Hays Office, and both Renault’s selling of visas for sex, and Rick and Ilsa’s previous sexual relationship were implied elliptically rather than referenced explicitly.

Someone once described Casablanca as a B-movie that God reached down and turned into an A-movie. Works for me!

Here is the Variety review dated December 1, 1942. Excerpts:

Exhibs, in selling the picture, will do well to bear in mind that it goes heavy on the love theme. Although the title and Humphrey Bogart’s name convey the impression of high adventure rather than romance, there’s plenty of the latter for the femme trade. Adventure is there, too, but it’s more as exciting background to the Bogart-Bergman heart department. Bogart, incidentally, as a tender lover (in addition to being a cold-as-ice nitery operator) is a novel characterization that, properly billed, might itself be good for some coin in the trough.

—-

Bogart, as might be expected, is more at ease as the bitter and cynical operator of a joint than as a lover, but handles both assignments with superb finesse. Bergman, in a torn-between-love-and-duty role, lives up to her reputation as a fine actress. Henreid is well cast and does an excellent job too.

Superb is the lineup of lesser players. Some of the characterizations are a bit on the overdone side, but each is a memorable addition to the whole. There’s Claude Rains, as the charmingly-corrupt prefect of police; Sydney Greenstreet, as the polite and insidious boss of Casablanca’s underground traffic in visas; Peter Lorre, as a sinister runner of phony papers; Conrad Veidt, as the usual German officer; S. Z. Sakall, as a waiter in Rick’s and a participant in the anti-Axis underground; and Leonid Kinskey as Rick’s bartender.

Of course, no reference to Casablanca can stand without including this monumental scene:

So let’s wish Casablanca a Happy Birthday today with your memories, thoughts and feelings about the film. Do you remember the first time you saw it? What are your favorite scenes? Favorite lines of dialogue? Who is your favorite character? Where does the movie slot in on your all-time favorite list? It’s definitely in my Top 10.

Great Scene: “Casablanca”

December 15th, 2012 by

When you think about it, screenwriting is really aboutscene-writing. If a typical script is 120 pages and the average scene is 2 pages, then that means we write about 60 scenes per screenplay. Clearly, a writer needs to understand how to craft effective, engaging scenes in order to write a good script.

I thought it would be appropriate to begin our Great Scene Series with one of the most memorable moments in cinematic history: the last sequence from the 1941 Warner Bros. classic Casablanca, from the screenplay credited to Julius & Philip Epstein and Howard Koch.

            
               EXT. AIRPORT - NIGHT

               The entire airport is surrounded by a heavy fog. The outline 
               of the transport plane is barely visible.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT./EXT. AIRPORT HANGAR - NIGHT

               A uniformed ORDERLY uses a telephone near the hangar door.

               On the airfield a transport plane is being readied.

                                     ORDERLY
                         Hello. Hello, radio tower? Lisbon 
                         plane taking off in ten minutes. 
                         East runway. Visibility: one and one 
                         half miles. Light ground fog. Depth 
                         of fog: approximately 500. Ceiling: 
                         unlimited. Thank you.

               He hangs up and moves to a car that has just pulled up outside 
               the hangar.

               Renault gets out while the orderly stands at attention.

               He's closely followed by Rick, right hand in the pocket of 
               his trench coat, covering Renault with a gun.

               Laszlo and Ilsa emerge from the rear of the car.

                                     RICK
                              (indicating the orderly)
                         Louis, have your man go with Mr.

               Laszlo and take care of his luggage.

                                     RENAULT
                              (bowing ironically)
                         Certainly Rick, anything you say.
                              (to orderly)
                         Find Mr. Laszlo's luggage and put it 
                         it on the plane.

                                     ORDERLY
                         Yes, sir. This way please.

               The orderly escorts Laszlo off in the direction of the plane.

               Rick takes the letters of transit out of his pocket and hands 
               them to Renault, who turns and walks toward the hangar.

                                     RICK
                         If you don't mind, you fill in the 
                         names. That will make it even more 
                         official.

                                     RENAULT
                         You think of everything, don't you?

                                     RICK
                              (quietly)
                         And the names are Mr. and Mrs. Victor 
                         Laszlo.

               Renault stops dead in his tracks, and turns around. Both 
               Ilsa and Renault look at Rick with astonishment.

                                     ILSA
                         But why my name, Richard?

                                     RICK
                         Because you're getting on that plane.

                                     ILSA
                              (confused)
                         I don't understand. What about you?

                                     RICK
                         I'm staying here with him 'til the 
                         plane gets safely away.

               Rick's intention suddenly dawns on Ilsa.

                                     ILSA
                         No, Richard, no. What has happened 
                         to you? Last night we said --

                                     RICK
                         -- Last night we said a great many 
                         things. You said I was to do the 
                         thinking for both of us. Well, I've 
                         done a lot of it since then and it 
                         all adds up to one thing. You're 
                         getting on that plane with Victor 
                         where you belong.

                                     ILSA
                              (protesting)
                         But Richard, no, I, I --

                                     RICK
                         -- You've got to listen to me. Do 
                         you have any idea what you'd have to 
                         look forward to if you stayed here? 
                         Nine chances out of ten we'd both 
                         wind up in a concentration camp. 
                         Isn't that true, Louis?

               Renault countersigns the papers.

                                     RENAULT
                         I'm afraid Major Strasser would 
                         insist.

                                     ILSA
                         You're saying this only to make me 
                         go.

                                     RICK
                         I'm saying it because it's true. 
                         Inside of us we both know you belong 
                         with Victor. You're part of his work, 
                         the thing that keeps him going. If 
                         that plane leaves the ground and 
                         you're not with him, you'll regret 
                         it.

                                     ILSA
                         No.

                                     RICK
                         Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, 
                         but soon, and for the rest of your 
                         life.

                                     ILSA
                         But what about us?

                                     RICK
                         We'll always have Paris. We didn't 
                         have, we'd lost it, until you came 
                         to Casablanca. We got it back last 
                         night.

                                     ILSA
                         And I said I would never leave you.

                                     RICK
                         And you never will. But I've got a 
                         job to do, too. Where I'm going you 
                         can't follow. What I've got to do 
                         you can't be any part of. Ilsa, I'm 
                         no good at being noble, but it doesn't 
                         take much to see that the problems 
                         of three little people don't amount 
                         to a hill of beans in this crazy 
                         world. Someday you'll understand 
                         that. Now, now...

               Ilsa's eyes well up with tears. Rick puts his hand to her 
               chin and raises her face to meet his own.

                                     RICK
                         Here's looking at you, kid.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               EXT. ROAD - NIGHT

               Major Strasser drives at break-neck speed towards the airport.

               He HONKS his horn furiously.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT./EXT. AIRPORT HANGAR - NIGHT

               Laszlo returns. Rick walks into the hangar and Renault hands 
               him the letters. He walks back out to Laszlo.

                                     LASZLO
                         Everything in order?

                                     RICK
                         All except one thing. There's 
                         something you should know before you 
                         leave.

                                     LASZLO
                              (sensing what is coming)
                         Monsieur Blaine, I don't ask you to 
                         explain anything.

                                     RICK
                         I'm going to anyway, because it may 
                         make a difference to you later on. 
                         You said you knew about Ilsa and me.

                                     LASZLO
                         Yes.

                                     RICK
                         But you didn't know she was at my 
                         place last night when you were. She 
                         came there for the letters of transit. 
                         Isn't that true, Ilsa?

                                     ILSA
                              (facing Laszlo)
                         Yes.

                                     RICK
                              (forcefully)
                         She tried everything to get them, 
                         and nothing worked. She did her best 
                         to convince me that she was still in 
                         love with me, but that was all over 
                         long ago. For your sake, she pretended 
                         it wasn't, and I let her pretend.

                                     LASZLO
                         I understand.

                                     RICK
                         Here it is.

               Rick hands the letters to Laszlo.

                                     LASZLO
                         Thanks. I appreciate it.

               Laszlo extends his hand to Rick, who grasps it firmly.

                                     LASZLO
                         And welcome back to the fight. This 
                         time I know our side will win.

               On the airfield the airplane engine TURNS OVER and the 
               propellers start turning. They all turn to see the plane 
               readying for take-off.

               Ilsa looks at Rick and he returns her stare with a blank 
               expression. He then glances at Laszlo, as does Ilsa.

               Then Laszlo breaks the silence.

                                     LASZLO
                         Are you ready Ilsa?

                                     ILSA
                         Yes, I'm ready.
                              (to Rick)
                         Goodbye, Rick. God bless you.

                                     RICK
                         You better hurry, or you'll miss 
                         that plane.

               Rick watches as Ilsa and Laszlo walk very deliberately towards 
               the plane.

                                     RENAULT
                         Well I was right. You are a 
                         sentimentalist.

                                     RICK
                         Stay where you are. I don't know 
                         what you're talking about.

               Rick puts a cigarette in his mouth.

                                     RENAULT
                         What you just did for Laszlo, and 
                         that fairy tale that you invented to 
                         send Ilsa away with him. I know a 
                         little about women, my friend. She 
                         went, but she knew you were lying.

                                     RICK
                         Anyway, thanks for helping me out.

                                     RENAULT
                         I suppose you know this isn't going 
                         to be pleasant for either of us, 
                         especially for you. I'll have to 
                         arrest you of course.

                                     RICK
                         As soon as the plane goes, Louis.

               The door to the plane is closed by an attendant and it slowly 
               taxies down the field.

               Suddenly a speeding car comes to a stop outside the hangar.

               Strasser alights from the car and runs toward Renault.

                                     STRASSER
                         What is the meaning of that phone 
                         call?

                                     RENAULT
                         Victor Laszlo is on that plane.

               Renault nods toward the field. Strasser turns to see the 
               plane taxiing towards the runway.

                                     STRASSER
                         Why do you stand here? Why don't you 
                         stop him?

                                     RENAULT
                         Ask Monsieur Rick.

               Strasser looks briefly at Rick, then makes a step towards 
               the telephone just inside the hangar door.

                                     RICK
                         Get away from that phone.

               Strasser stops in his tracks, looks at Rick, and sees that 
               he is armed.

                                     STRASSER
                              (steely)
                         I would advise you not to interfere.

                                     RICK
                         I was willing to shoot Captain 
                         Renault, and I'm willing to shoot 
                         you.

               Strasser watches the plane in agony. His eyes dart towards 
               the telephone. He runs toward it and desperately grabs the 
               receiver.

                                     STRASSER
                         Hello?

                                     RICK
                         Put that phone down!

                                     STRASSER
                         Get me the Radio Tower!

                                     RICK
                         Put it down!

               Strasser, one hand holding the receiver, pulls out a pistol 
               with the other hand, and SHOOTS quickly at Rick. The bullet 
               misses its mark.

               Rick now SHOOTS at Strasser, who crumples to the ground.

               At the sound of an approaching car both men turn. A police 
               car SPEEDS in and comes to a stop near Renault. Four gendarmes 
               hurriedly jump out.

               In the distance the plane turns onto the runway.

               The gendarmes run to Renault. The first one hurriedly salutes 
               him.

                                     GENDARME
                         Mon Capitaine!

                                     RENAULT
                         Major Strasser's been shot.

               Renault pauses and looks at Rick. Rick returns Renault's 
               gaze with expressionless eyes.

                                     RENAULT
                         Round up the usual suspects.

                                     GENDARME
                         Oui, mon Capitaine.

               The gendarmes take Strasser's body away and then drive off.

               Renault walks inside the hangar, picks up a bottle of Vichy 
               water, and opens it.

                                     RENAULT
                         Well, Rick, you're not only a 
                         sentimentalist, but you've become a 
                         patriot.

                                     RICK
                         Maybe, but it seemed like a good 
                         time to start.

                                     RENAULT
                         I think perhaps you're right.

               As he pours the water into a glass, Renault sees the Vichy 
               label and quickly DROPS the bottle into a trash basket which 
               he then KICKS over.

               He walks over and stands beside Rick. They both watch the 
               plane take off, maintaining their gaze until it disappears 
               into the clouds.

               Rick and Louis slowly walk away from the hangar toward the 
               runway.

                                     RENAULT
                         It might be a good idea for you to 
                         disappear from Casablanca for a while. 
                         There's a Free French garrison over 
                         at Brazzaville. I could be induced 
                         to arrange a passage.

                                     RICK
                         My letter of transit? I could use a 
                         trip. But it doesn't make any 
                         difference about our bet. You still 
                         owe me ten thousand francs.

                                     RENAULT
                         And that ten thousand francs should 
                         pay our expenses.

                                     RICK
                         Our expenses?

                                     RENAULT
                         Uh huh.

                                     RICK
                         Louis, I think this is the beginning 
                         of a beautiful friendship.

               The two walk off together into the night.

                                                                  FADE OUT:

                                         THE END

Here is the scene from the movie in two parts:

[Originally posted August 1, 2008]

Don’t Play It Again, Sam!!!

December 6th, 2012 by

My email was inundated with people sending this WSJ article.

For almost as long as there have been movies, there have been sequels. “The Godfather,” “Star Wars,” “The Lord of the Rings,” the Twilight series—if there’s anything Hollywood likes more than a blockbuster, it’s the follow-up to one. Perhaps it’s the dearth of original ideas or the desire among studios to cash in on a proven winner one more time (or two or three more times). So I can’t say I was particularly surprised to learn, earlier this month, that there’s talk of a sequel to that most storied of Hollywood productions, “Casablanca,” which turned 70 on Thanksgiving Day.

Nooooooooooooooooooooooo!!! It gets worse:

Despite several earlier attempts that ultimately got the ax, the new sequel is actually an old one, written sometime in the late 1980s by Howard Koch, who shared the original film’s 1943 Oscar for Best Screenplay with Philip and Julius Epstein. The script, “Return to Casablanca,” chronicles the afterlives of the four principal characters. After making it safely to America, Ilsa Lund (originally played by Ingrid Bergman) and Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) attempt in vain to reconnect with resistance fighters Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) and Captain Renault (Claude Rains) in North Africa. The script’s main conceit is that Ilsa has a son from her relationship with Blaine and the boy grows up to be like his father, politically and otherwise.

So, what? We’re in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade territory and can look forward to dialogue like this:

Rick: Junior?
Rick Junior: Yes, sir.
Rick: It is you, Junior.
Rick Junior: Don’t call me that. Please.

I swear, having seen some really fine movies lately, I was just about to pen a post lauding Hollywood for blessing us with a cinematic resurgence in 2012. Now this!

Perhaps I’m just being a stick-in-the-mud, a fuddy duddy, an old fart. Perhaps it makes all the cents sense in the world to do Casablanca II: Revenge of the Fallen.

Nah. No good reason.

UPDATE: Shaula Evans found this: 10 crazy attempts to continue the Casablanca story.

Daily Dialogue — July 11, 2012

July 11th, 2012 by

Rick takes the letters of transit out of his pocket and hands them to Renault, who turns and walks toward the hangar.

RICK: If you don’t mind, you fill in the names. That will make it even more official.

RENAULT: You think of everything, don’t you?

RICK: (quietly) And the names are Mr. and Mrs. Victor Laszlo.

Renault stops dead in his tracks, and turns around. Both Ilsa and Renault look at Rick with astonishment.

ILSA: But why my name, Richard?

RICK: Because you’re getting on that plane.

ILSA: (confused) I don’t understand. What about you?

RICK: I’m staying here with him ’til the plane gets safely away.

Rick’s intention suddenly dawns on Ilsa.

ILSA: No, Richard, no. What has happened to you? Last night we said –

RICK: — Last night we said a great many things. You said I was to do the thinking for both of us. Well, I’ve done a lot of it since then and it all adds up to one thing. You’re getting on that plane with Victor
where you belong.

ILSA: (protesting) But Richard, no, I, I –

RICK: — You’ve got to listen to me. Do you have any idea what you’d have to look forward to if you stayed here? Nine chances out of ten we’d both wind up in a concentration camp. Isn’t that true, Louis?

Renault countersigns the papers.

RENAULT: I’m afraid Major Strasser would insist.

ILSA: You’re saying this only to make me go.

RICK: I’m saying it because it’s true. Inside of us we both know you belong with Victor. You’re part of his work, the thing that keeps him going. If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not with him, you’ll regret it.

ILSA: No.

RICK: Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life.

ILSA: But what about us?

RICK: We’ll always have Paris. We didn’t have, we’d lost it, until you came to Casablanca. We got it back last night.

ILSA: And I said I would never leave you.

RICK: And you never will. But I’ve got a job to do, too. Where I’m going you can’t follow. What I’ve got to do you can’t be any part of. Ilsa, I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that. Now, now…

Ilsa’s eyes well up with tears. Rick puts his hand to her chin and raises her face to meet his own.

RICK: Here’s looking at you, kid.

– Rick (Humphrey Bogart), Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), Louis (Claude Rains), Casablanca (1942), screenplay by Julius J. Epstein and Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch, based on a play by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison

The Daily Dialogue theme this week is departure, suggested by MatchesMalone. Today’s suggestion by Shaula Evans.

Trivia: The first writers to tackle a screenplay were Æneas MacKenzie and Wally Kline, who spent six weeks on the project. Afterwards, Julius J. Epstein and Philip G. Epstein came on board, and their major contribution was the building up of Claude Rains’ Capt. Renault character.

Dialogue On Dialogue: Some of the most famous dialogue cinema history.