"The Happiest of Happy Accidents"? A Reevaluation of "Casablanca"
This article reevaluates the role of Michel Curtiz in Casablanca. Often relegated to a position of influence rather than prominence, Michel Cutiz has rarely been given the credit that he is due for his work on Casablanca. According to Green, however, the time has come to reanalyze Curtiz’s work and honor his achievements. The main forcus of this reanalysis is Curtiz’s work on the film’s visual structure. Through camera angles and actor positioning, Casablanca’s visual structure is established as a series of compositional triangles that refect the triangles that are inherant to the film’s narrative. Rick, Renault, and Major Strasser form one such triangle. Rick, Ilsa, and Lazlo form another one. Each triangle constanly seeks resolution but is denyed such a conclustion until Rick changes emotionallly and breaks each triangle visually (the final scene of the film). In Green’s opinion, such structural methods are the constructs of Curtiz’s enlightened directing style and can be traced to the film theories of Eisenstein. Green stresses that Curtiz’s work should not be underestimated despite the enourmous size of the Warner Brothers studio and the number of people who worked on Casablanca. While it is often said that Casablanca was merely the surprise result of many happy accidents, this article assures the reader that a great deal of theory and effort amounted to the film’s great quality and success. This knowledge contributes greatly to the film’s analysis as well as the analysis of the studio system.
Call#: Van Pelt Library PN1999.W3 S4
An oversized book of great length, Warner Brothers Presents can easily be seen as a definitive source on the history of the famous movie studio. Containing over a hundred pages of filmography and an extensive index, this book shares many similarities with a textbook. Its tone, however, is far from dry and the author seems to have made a great effort to make the book enjoyable to read. Each chapter of the book details a different genre of film that Warner Brothers made. Regarding Casablanca, Warner Brothers Presents provides a summary of how the film was made as well as interesting commentary on its significance during its WWII release. The films pro-American stance abroad is investigated by Sennett as well as the films lasting effect on Warner Brothers’ melodrama, romance, and war-related genres. By providing an extensive overview of the studio before and after Casablanca, Warner Brothers Presents shows the influences that affected Casablanca as well as the effect that Casablanca had on the industry as a whole. Although Warner Brothers Presents is not about Casablanca specifically, the book nonetheless contributes greatly to the film’s analysis.
Call#: Van Pelt Library PN1999.W3 I5 1985
A self-proscribed “day to day story of a studio during its ‘Golden Age,’ Inside Warner Brother is a truly fascinating book that is predominantly made up of expertly arranged personal notes between the most important men within Warner Brothers (particularly Hal Wallis, Jack Warner, and directors and casting heads). By providing primary source material, Inside Warner Bros. does an excellent job of showing exactly how the studio system worked. This description of Warner Brothers’ inner workings is particularly relevant when one studies the studio’s most famous film, Casablanca. Indeed, Inside Warner Brothers devotes an entire chapter to the collaborative efforts that occurred in order to make the film. This chapter contains interoffice correspondence detailing the purchase of Everybody Comes to Ricks, the casting of the leading roles, the creation of appropriate music, the production code edits required by Joseph Breen, the budget problems, and the extensive revision of the Casablanca screenplay. All of these documents combine to form a historically accurate portrait of how the film was made and how many people worked to achieve its completion. Whether analyzing the studio system or Casablanca itself, Inside Warner Brothers is a fascinating portrayal of old Hollywood.