"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 PN1998.3.C87 R63 1993
This book distinguishes itself by giving a through biography of Casablanca’s often forgotten director, Michael Curtiz. Usually considered to be nothing more than a studio workhorse, Curtiz and his work have often been ignored as merely the cookie cutter products of the enormous studio factories. In the Casablanca Man, Robertson tries to rebuff this image of Curtiz and investigate the unique elements of Curtiz’s work. During this investigation, Robertson outlines Curtiz’s life-story and the influence that it had on his films. Robertson also attempts to discover the man behind Curtiz’s films by researching the director’s view of film auteurism. In 1917, Curtiz stated that the director’s place in a film could be described as a kind of supreme behind the scenes coordinator. Throughout his life, Curtiz favored a hidden approach regarding the influence he had on his own films. Unfortunately, this method has led critics and viewers alike to forget his existence or see his many successful films as merely happy studio systems accidents. This book is highly relevant to the analysis of Casablanca because it reminds its audience to not forget the work of a director who seems to have put a great deal of effort into being forgotten. Curtiz’s influence on Casablanca is significant and (as this book reminds us) should not be forgotten.