70 Years Later, is Hollywood ready for a ‘Casablanca’ sequel from one of the original writers?


It’s a question that’s fascinated audiences since “Casablanca’’ premiered in New York City 70 years ago this month: What ever happened to Rick and Ilsa? Was saloonkeeper Richard Blaine, played so iconically by Humphrey Bogart, ever reunited with his beautiful ex-lover Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman), whom he nobly sent off on that plane to Lisbon with her husband, resistance fighter Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid)?

Now a producer whose grandfather was a Warner Bros. co-founder, and whose uncle set the original film in motion, is trying to get the studio to finally make a sequel — based on a treatment written more than 30 years ago by Howard Koch, one of three writers who shared an Oscar for the original script.

There have been several attempts over eight decades to continue one of the most beloved films of all time. Listed at No. 2 among Hollywood’s greatest movies in a 1998 survey by the American Film Institute, “Casablanca’’ has been in heavy rotation on TV, in repertory houses and on video for decades.

It’s rivaled only by “The Godfather’’ as the most quotable: “I’m shocked, shocked that gambling is going on in here!’’; “Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine’’; “Here’s looking at you, kid’’; “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,’’ and, of course, the one the makers of “Casablanca 2” are banking on: “You must remember this . . .”

“Casablanca” had its gala world premiere (with a military parade) on Thanksgiving Day 1942 at the old Warner Hollywood Theatre on West 52nd Street (now the Times Square Church).

It was a big hit when it opened nationally, and it won the Oscar for Best Picture of 1943.

Not long afterward, Warner Bros. announced a sequel called “Brazzaville’’ — after the location of the Free French garrison mentioned in the last scene.

But this “beginning of a beautiful friendship” only got as far as a treatment by Frederic Stephani.

Picking up after Rick heads off into the fog with Capt. Renault (Claude Rains), it’s revealed after the American invasion of Casablanca that Rick and Renault were secretly Allied agents all along.

“The moment Rick becomes . . . an agent of the secret police, the interest in his position and character largely evaporates,’’ wrote Frederick Faust, a Warner contract writer asked to evaluate Stephani’s proposal.

“Brazzaville” was scrapped.

The nearest Warner Bros. ever got to a big-screen sequel was “Passage to Marseilles,’’ a 1944 follow-up starring Bogart as a Free French journalist who escapes Devil’s Island to battle the Nazis. The cast included “Casablanca’’ veterans Rains, Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre.

Read the full article at New York Post: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/national/saloonkeeper_thanksgiving_assassination_nh7u2qBoNSrhGoeT2MXNFM

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