Tribune: Historians to restore original 1942 Casablanca

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Mike Gebert

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Tribune: Historians to restore original 1942 Casablanca

PostSat Apr 01, 2017 7:21 am

Here's Looking At The Original, Kid
Film historians seek to restore one of cinema's holy grails—the original 1942 Casablanca

By William Dannreuther | Posted: March 31, 2017

It's one of the most beloved films of Hollywood's Golden Age. Yet the Casablanca you see today is not the film that audiences saw in 1942—not precisely, anyway.

By the time that Casablanca took the Oscar for Best Picture, producer Hal Wallis knew that he had made the film of his career. It was a triumph for him and for director Michael Curtiz and stars Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, among others.

"But Wallis didn't seem 100% satisfied with the result," says film historian and preservationist Monte Beragon. "He seems to have imagined an even better Casablanca in his head."

The frequent reissues of the 1942 film over the years gave Wallis the chance to tinker with the film to get it closer to his vision. This kind of reediting was not uncommon in those days—"Lost Horizon was recut for reissue, Gone With the Wind saw alterations, Disney planned to add new sequences to Fantasia every time it was reissued. It was taken for granted that you might change things here and there for the sensibilities of modern audiences," says Beragon.

One of the first changes came in the film's first postwar reissue in 1946. "In the original version, Humphrey Bogart's Rick shoots Conrad Veidt's Major Strasser as soon as he pulls up at the airport. Audiences of 1942 were happy to see a Nazi get it and didn't need any social niceties about it." But with the Cold War on the horizon and Germany now an ally against the Soviet Union, Wallis had the scene recut to show Strasser pulling his pistol before Rick guns him down out of necessity, showing his regret by saying "I was willing to shoot Captain Renault and I'm willing to shoot you."

"True devotees of the original know that Rick shot first," says Beragon.

A larger change was made somewhere in the late 1940s. In the original cut, Signor Ferrari, Rick's rival as the owner of the Blue Parrot, was a mythical figure referred to but never seen. Curtiz had shot a scene in which Bogart's Rick met with Ferrari, seen only in shadow, but it wasn't used in the final picture in 1942.

Image
Original 1942 cut, and 1949 reissue with Signor Ferrari added.

Wallis decided that film technology had finally advanced sufficiently to the point where the creators' original vision of the shadowy Ferrari could finally be realized, and actor Sydney Greenstreet was hired to speak Ferrari's dialogue. Special effects wizard Fred Jackman convincingly put a lifelike Greenstreet in the same frame as the Bogart sequence, shot years before.

The Warners special effects department was used to add other things to the film over the years—many details, from the airplanes in the sky to the exotic characters who populate the backgrounds of the film as we know it today, were added over the decades. But as Beragon says, "The original Casablanca had a charm and an innocence of its own that the versions with these later additions have lost."

Now a project is at work to recreate Casablanca as audiences would have seen it in 1942. "We'll take out the effects that weren't there in 1942, delete the added scenes, and return it to where Rick shoots first," says Beragon. "This despecialized edition will finally be the Casablanca that a audiences saw in 1942, complete with its original ending, in which Rick and Ilsa get on the plane together to join the rebel alliance in the Free French city of Dagobah."
“One of the wonders of the internet is that it's a totally open forum. The world's greatest expert—or greatest idiot—is free to post.” —David Shepard, quoted by Richard Bann
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Re: Tribune: Historians to restore original 1942 Casablanca

PostSat Apr 01, 2017 8:17 am

Phhhft, that's nothing. I'm having a screening of my restored print of FOUR DEVILS tonight.
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Re: Tribune: Historians to restore original 1942 Casablanca

PostSat Apr 01, 2017 1:45 pm

westegg wrote:Phhhft, that's nothing. I'm having a screening of my restored print of FOUR DEVILS tonight.

Oh, you found it too?
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Re: Tribune: Historians to restore original 1942 Casablanca

PostSat Apr 01, 2017 3:11 pm

Well, I have the only complete print. Everyone else has three devils.
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Re: Tribune: Historians to restore original 1942 Casablanca

PostSat Apr 01, 2017 4:03 pm

Sheesh.

Talk about stealing the thunder from my finding of the camera negative of HUMOR RISK in a sealed mayonnaise jar on the site of the old Funk & Wagnall's!
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Re: Tribune: Historians to restore original 1942 Casablanca

PostSat Apr 01, 2017 5:16 pm

Wow! This is such a great time for film recovery.

Why it's just been a couple of years since footage of the lost Fellini film 8 3/4 was discovered. Relocated the article (posted below). It was such a momentous occasion that I borrowed the article's screen shot for my Nitrateville avatar!

Here's the original article for those who might've missed it:

International Press (IP) - Recently discovered in the estate of renowned director Federico Fellini were several unused scripts and reels of undeveloped footage thought to be from the auteur's most widely praised work 8 1/2 (1963). Believed to be alternate takes composed for international markets, the undeveloped film stock, labeled 8 3/4 on canisters, turned out to be unassembled footage intended for a sequel in development in 1964.

8 1/2 focused on the trials and tribulations of a director, a very personal and introspective film for Fellini. 8 3/4 seems more focused on the struggles of actors and the realities of life on a working stage set. There is no way of knowing where the director intended to go with this delightful story, but an ongoing search of other scripts in the late director's estate may turn up clues.

Although the undeveloped film remains a mystery at least the B&W footage has survived the ravages of time. Filmed with unidentified actors the existing footage has the unmistakeable flair of the maestro's nuanced story-telling, but no evidence remains as to why the film wasn't finished. Was the director pulled into another project? Did the funding evaporate? No complete script of 8 3/4 was found with the footage so it's doubtful that a reconstruction will ever be attempted.


All this great news just makes my day!!!
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Re: Tribune: Historians to restore original 1942 Casablanca

PostSat Apr 01, 2017 9:28 pm

And now, that alternate ending has at last seen the light of day!

And possibly one for It's A Wonderful Life, too ...



(Thanks Mike - I always look forward to April Fool's on Nitrateville. :lol: )
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The Blackbird

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Re: Tribune: Historians to restore original 1942 Casablanca

PostSat Apr 01, 2017 11:55 pm

D'oh!

I'd have responded sooner but I've been busy making note of all the differences in these three different cuts of LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT I found in my closet. I would have found them sooner but they were mistakenly labelled as episodes of HOLMES AND YO-YO.
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Re: Tribune: Historians to restore original 1942 Casablanca

PostSun Apr 02, 2017 4:44 am

All joke aside, has anyone noticed the difference between the original trailer for CASABLANCA and the scene where Bogie shoots Major Strasser?

In the trailer, Bogie says "all right Major, you asked for it.." then shoots. In the movie scene right after Bogie says he was willing to shoot Renault, Strasser pulls his gun out and Bogie shoots him without any further dialogue.
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Re: Tribune: Historians to restore original 1942 Casablanca

PostWed Apr 05, 2017 1:01 am

You forgot to mention that cut scene where Rick visits Lazlo in prison (still existing but minus its soundtrack) where Rick confesses his secret love for Lazlo and suggests they both leave for Lisbon together, therefore paying Ilsa back for dumping him in Paris.

This third alternate ending was sadly never filmed.... Perhaps it was a bit strong for 1942?
"Korngold has so much talent he could give half away and still have enough left for himself..." Giacomo Puccini (1921)
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Re: Tribune: Historians to restore original 1942 Casablanca

PostWed Apr 05, 2017 3:53 pm

Next april fool they will "find" the original technicolor sequences fot the Kansas scenes of The Wizard of Oz (1939).
Keep thinking...

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Re: Tribune: Historians to restore original 1942 Casablanca

PostFri Apr 07, 2017 6:48 pm

All Darc wrote:Next april fool they will "find" the original technicolor sequences fot the Kansas scenes of The Wizard of Oz (1939).



I'd be happy if "The Jitterbug" would turn up someday!
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Re: Tribune: Historians to restore original 1942 Casablanca

PostFri Apr 07, 2017 8:22 pm

All Darc wrote:Next april fool they will "find" the original technicolor sequences fot the Kansas scenes of The Wizard of Oz (1939).


I believe that there is an original Technicolor print of "Citizen Kane" lying around in a vault somewhere too!
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Re: Tribune: Historians to restore original 1942 Casablanca

PostSat Apr 08, 2017 1:42 pm

Donald Binks wrote:
All Darc wrote:Next april fool they will "find" the original technicolor sequences fot the Kansas scenes of The Wizard of Oz (1939).


I believe that there is an original Technicolor print of "Citizen Kane" lying around in a vault somewhere too!


The colour KANE was shot in England in Dufaycolour, and starred Richard Hearne as Kane, with Frank Randle playing Jedediah Leland and Robertson Hare as Walter Parks Thatcher. It was directed by Maclean Rogers when RKO hired him as a replacement for Welles after they saw OLD MOTHER RILEY JOINS UP. To appeal to British tastes, the film was restructured as to be in chronological sequence and lasted a tidy seventy-three minutes. In order to avoid loss during the war, the camera negative was stored in the deep freeze of a tripe shop in Huddersfield, and a print is thought to be in the collection of an elderly gentleman in Basingstoke...

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