Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Greatest Movie Ever

I came across this headline on Yahoo! about a week ago: "Casablanca" named greatest movie script

Okay, as far as I, at least, am concerned--and I know some people who feel differently, some who even (GASP!) dislike this film--this is another one of those "DUH!" stories.
Casablanca is, in my opinion, the greatest film ever made. After all, it's got everything you could ever want in a movie: action, drama, suspense, political intrigue, romance, humor, singing, Nazis and Singing Nazis! The script deserves to be recognized as one of the greatest ever, although after reading the book Round Up The Usual Supects: The Making Of Casablanca by Aljean Harmetz, especially the chapter concerning the writing of the screenplay, I've come to regard it as something of a miracle that the film is even watchable. Though the script is officially credited to the Epstein Brothers, Julius and Philip, and Howard Koch, if you factor in Murray Bennet and Joan Alison, the authors of the play, Everybody Comes To Rick's, on which the movie is based, and Wally Kline and Aenas MacKenzie, who worked on an early, unused, draft, no less than ten people had a hand in crafting the script. Even after shooting had begun, the Epsteins and Koch were reportedly delivering revisions to the set nearly every day. In addition, Lenore Coffee and Casey Robinson, described by Harmetz as "the most expensive and deferred to of the Warners screenwriters" had a hand in the final product. Harmetz does not specify Coffee's exact contribution, she was apparently only associated with the film for a week, but credits Robinson with shaping the romantic aspect of the film. According to Harmetz, it was, in fact, Robinson's idea to change the female lead character from an American woman named Lois Meredith, as it was in Everybody Comes To Rick's, to the European Ilsa Lund, inspired in part, Harmetz suggests, by a desire to snag the role for his Russian girlfriend of the moment.
Producer Hal Wallis even had a hand in the writing, adding that famous final line, "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship" in post-production.
Very few, if any, other great works of art have ever been produced by committee, and the old adage that "too many cooks spoil the broth" usually holds true. In the case of Casablanca, however, against all odds, it worked and produced the greatest film ever made.


thebigcurve said...

Casablanca is truly a great film.
I haven't seen it in a long time.
I shall have to reserve it from the library.

Ray "!!" Tomczak said...

Actually, Eric, you can borrow my copy if you'd like...

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