When Warner Brothers green-lighted the low-budget 1942 romance melodrama Casablanca, studio head Jack Warner thought producer Hal Wallis would want studio stalwarts Ronald Reagan and Ann Sheridan to star as cynical expat Rick and former lover Ilsa. Indeed, the two were announced in trade paper Box Office Barometer. But Wallis, from the moment he had read the writers department’s synopsis of the unproduced play Everybody Comes to Rick’s, was adamant that the only actor to play the tough but sentimental bar owner was WB’s newest, if unlikely, star: Humphrey Bogart, fresh from the hit crime thriller Maltese Falcon. And eventually Ingmar Bergman took the role of Ilsa.
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On screen, the chemistry between cool Bogie and Nordic-cool Bergman sizzles as it’s filtered through veteran Arthur Edeson’s luminous black-and-white cinematography and the superlative direction from WB’s most visually astute director, Michael Curtiz (Captain Blood, The Adventures of Robin Hood). Still, studio execs were surprised when Casablanca took home Oscars for Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Director, not to mention five other Academy Award nominations that year. The film went on to become one of the preeminent icons of classic golden age Hollywood. Constantly rated as one of the most popular movies ever, this ultra-stylish and truly cool movie deserves every one of its accolades. 8:30 p.m. Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Drive.
Wed., July 25, 8:30 p.m., 2012