We'll Always Have Casablanca by Noah Isenberg
The Life, Legend, and Afterlife of Hollywood's Most Beloved Movie

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He’s an industrious and sensitive writer, obviously dedicated to his subject. He chases down every opinion of Casablanca uttered and every effect it had on the United States and the world.
-National Post arts

Synopsis

For the 75th anniversary of its premiere―the incredible story of how Casablanca was made and why it remains the most beloved of Hollywood films.

Casablanca was first released in 1942, just two weeks after the city of Casablanca itself surrendered to American troops led by General Patton. Featuring a pitch-perfect screenplay, a classic soundtrack, and unforgettable performances by Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and a deep supporting cast, Casablanca was hailed in the New York Times as “a picture that makes the spine tingle and the heart take a leap.” The film won Oscars for best picture, best director, and best screenplay, and would go on to enjoy more revival screenings than any other movie in history. It became so firmly ensconced in the cultural imagination that, as Umberto Eco once said, Casablanca is “not one movie; it is ‘movies.’ ”

We’ll Always Have Casablanca is celebrated film historian Noah Isenberg’s rich account of this most beloved movie’s origins. Through extensive research and interviews with filmmakers, film critics, family members of the cast and crew, and diehard fans, Isenberg reveals the myths and realities behind Casablanca’s production, exploring the transformation of the unproduced stage play into the classic screenplay, the controversial casting decisions, the battles with Production Code censors, and the effect of the war’s progress on the movie’s reception. Isenberg particularly focuses on the central role refugees from Hitler’s Europe played in the production (nearly all of the actors and actresses cast in Casablanca were immigrants).

Finally, Isenberg turns to Casablanca’s long afterlife and the reasons it remains so revered. From the Marx Brothers’ 1946 spoof hit, A Night in Casablanca, to loving parodies in New Yorker cartoons, Saturday Night Live skits, and Simpsons episodes, Isenberg delves into the ways the movie has lodged itself in the American psyche.

Filled with fresh insights into Casablanca’s creation, production, and legacy, We’ll Always Have Casablanca is a magnificent account of what made the movie so popular and why it continues to dazzle audiences seventy-five years after its release.

24 illustrations
 

About Noah Isenberg

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Noah Isenberg is associate professor of University Humanities at Eugene Lang College-The New School, where he teaches literature, film, and intellectual history. He is the author, most recently, of Detour (British Film Institute, 2008).
 
Published February 14, 2017 by W. W. Norton & Company. 344 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction
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National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by Robert Fulford on Mar 20 2017

He’s an industrious and sensitive writer, obviously dedicated to his subject. He chases down every opinion of Casablanca uttered and every effect it had on the United States and the world.

Read Full Review of We'll Always Have Casablanca:... | See more reviews from National Post arts

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