Sunday, December 26, 2021

Casablanca (1942), King's Row (1942) and "Warner Brothers Presents (1955-1956)

Two Classic "Warner Brothers" motion pictures and their reinvention as two "Warner Brothers" television series within the umbrella, or wheel of a third.


CASABLANCA 

Premiered on November 26, 1942, at the "Hollywood Theatre", 237 West 51st Street, Manhattan, New York








"EVERYBODY COMES TO RICK'S"

In the summer of 1938, English teacher Murray Burnett and his wife Frances, traveled to Vienna, Austria, for the purpose of helping Jewish refugees smuggle money out of Nazi occupied Austria. The couple returned to the south of France and one night went to a nightclub overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and listened to a black pianist playing jazz to a crowded room of French citizens, Nazi officers, and refugees. 

On their way back to the United States, the Burnett's stayed in the United Kingdom coastal town of Bournemouth for a few weeks, and Murray Burnett started making notes for an anti-Nazi play he wanted to write.

Move forward to the summer of 1940, and with the assistance of playwright Joan Allison, the 27-year-old English teacher completed his play entitled, "Everybody Comes to Rick's".

The play takes place at the "Cafe Americain", in "Casablanca, Morocco. The cafe is owned by American expatriate, "Rick Blaine", his ex-girlfriend was American "Lois Meredith", she was married to Victor Laszlo" who had no stated nationality, the Police Inspector was Italian "Luis Rinaldo", the piano player was called "The Rabbit", and there were two Spainards, "Guillermo Ugarte", and "Senior Martinez".

The song, "As Time Goes By", comes from the Burnett and Allison play, and was a favorite of Murray Burnett from his school days at "Cornell University". It was written in 1931 by American songwriter Herman Hupfeld. 

Murray Burnett and Joan Allison could not find a producer for their play, one of the reasons was the play implied "Lois" had slept with "Rick" to get the "German Letters of Transit", a 1930's American stage morality no-no. However, "Warner Brothers" purchased "Everybody Comes to Rick's" for a possible motion picture in January 1942.

More on the play when I speak to the television adaptations.


THE MOTION PICTURE


"Warner Brothers" studio head and "Executive Producer", actually a title used as a control device on a motion picture's production, Jack L. Warner, went to his, then, head of production, Hal B. Wallis to Produce "Casablanca"


















Above, Jack L. Warner at the time.

Wallis had just produced director Raoul Walsh's 1942, "Desperate Journey", starring Errol Flynn and Ronald Reagan, and followed this movie with director Irving Rapper's 1942's, "Now Voyager", starring Bette Davis, Paul Henreid and Claude Rains.

































Above. Hal B. Wallis receiving the 1939, "Irving Thalberg Award", from the "Board of Governors" of the "Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences" award to:
creative producers, whose body of work reflect a constantly high quality of motion picture production

Wallis assigned three Warner Brothers contract writers to the screenplay:

Julius J. Epstein had two proceeding uncredited writing assignments in 1942, James Cagney's, "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and the uncredited Frank Capra and Anatole Litvak's documentary, "Why We Fight". Epstein had full credit for 1942's, "The Male Animal", starring Henry Fonda, Olivia de Havilland and Joan Leslie.

Philip G. Epstein, Julius' brother had the same film credits.

Howard Koch had written Gary Cooper's, 1941's, "Sergeant York", and 1942's, "In This Our Life", starring Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, George Brent and Dennis Morgan.

All the above-mentioned screenplays were for "Executive Producer" Hal B. Wallis motion pictures.


With a working screenplay, Wallis wanted contract director William Wyler for the motion picture, but he was unavailable finishing 1942's, "Mrs. Miniver", starring Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon. 

Hal Wallis assigned contract director, Michael Curtiz, to Direct. Curtiz had just directed "Yankee Doodle Dandy", and would follow this feature with 1943's, "Mission to Moscow". 

By this time, among Curtiz's films for Warner Brothers, had been the first two Technicolor Horror motion pictures, starring Fay Wray and Lionel Atwill, 1932's, "Dr. X", and 1933's, "The Mystery of the Wax Musuem". Along with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Haviland's, 1935, "Captain Blood", 1936's, "Charge of the Light Brigade", and 1939's, "The Adventures of Robin Hood".































The principal photography started on May 25, 1942.

The Roles from "Everybody Comes to Rick's" as changed for "Casablanca"


Humphrey Bogart portrayed the same named "Rick Blaine". Bogart had just been in directors John Huston and Vincent Sherman's, 1942, "Across the Pacific", co-starring Mary Astor and Sidney Greenstreet. He would follow this motion picture with directors, Lloyd Bacon, Bryron Haskin and Raoul Walsh's, 1943, "Action in the North Atlantic", co-starring Raymond Massey. The reason for multiple directors was because of the Second World War draft effecting the movie industry.

My reader and others always picture "Bogie" as a tough guy, as in this picture. However, he was a Warner Brothers contract actor and in 1939, Executive Producer Hal B. Wallis assigned him to the title role in "The Return of Dr. X". My article, "HUMPHREY BOGART: Horror Actor", may be read at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2019/08/humphrey-bogart-horror-movie-actor.html





























Ingrid Bergman did not portray American, "Lois Meredith", but Swedish, "Ilsa Lund". Swedish actress Bergman had just been seen in "Metro-Goldyn-Mayer's", 1941, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", co-starring with Spencer Tracy and Lana Turner. She followed this picture with the 1943 "Paramount Pictures" version of author Ernest Hemmingway's, "For Whom the Bells Toll", co-starring with Gary Cooper.

Bergman was not the first actress considered for the role of "Ilsa Lund". Considered, before Bergman were, Ann Sheridan, Hedy Lamarr, Luise Rainer, and Michele Morgan. 

According to Aljean Harmetz, in 1992's, "Round Up the Usual Suspects: The Making of Casablanca-Bogart, Bergman, and World War 2", and other writers:

Hal B. Wallis wanted the Swedish actress for a screen test and approached producer David O. Selznick, who had Ingrid Bergman on an exclusive contract, and ended up trading Olivia de Haviland to Selznick to get his leading actress. What motion picture de Haviland was to appear in is questionable, as after 1939's, "Gone with the Wind", there appears to be no other motion pictures listed for de Havilland connected to Selznick. It is probable, that Olivia de Havilland never actually worked for David O. Selznick and in 1943 her lawsuit against Warner Brothers took place.

Whatever the actual story is, Ingrid Bergman filmed "Casablanca".






























Paul Henreid portrayed "Victor Lazlo". Prior to 1942's, "Joan of Paris", the Austrian born actor was billed as "Paul Von Henreid". Between that motion picture and "Casablanca", Paul Henried co-starred with Bette Davis and Claude Rains in "Now Voyager". He followed this feature film with 1944's, "In Our Time", co-starring Ida Lupino. 

































Claude Rains did not portray Italian Police Officer "Luis Rinaldo", but French Vichy Police Captain "Louis Renault". Rains had just co-starred in "Now Voyager", and would follow this picture with co-directors, Edmund Golding, Sir Cedrick Hardwicke, and Frank Lloyd's, 1943, "Forever and a Day", with thirty-second billing, out of seventy-eight billed actors.

Claude Rains began his motion picture career not because he could act, but because director James Whale heard his voice in a United Kingdom stage play. Whale needed a voice first, an actor second, because you wouldn't see Claude Rains until after he died in the 1933 version of H.G. Wells', "The Invisible Man". My article on his remarkable career, thank you Richard O'Brien, is entitled, "----CLAUDE RAINS WAS THE INVISIBILE MAN---", and can be read at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2019/05/claude-rains-was-invisible-man.html






























Dooley Wilson did not portray jazz piano player "Rabbit", but jazz piano player "Sam". Wilson had just been seen in 1942's, "Cairo", starring Jeanette MacDonald, Robert Young and Ethel Waters, and followed this picture with 1943's, "Two Tickets to London", starring Michele Morgan, Alan Curtis, and C. Aubrey Smith. 

By the way, Wilson was a drummer and never played the piano, he faked it. After shooting was completed, Hal B. Wallis was still considering dubbing his singing voice.,

Sorry for those who are still waiting to hear Ingrid Bergman ask Dooley Wilson to:
Play it again Sam

There is no such line in either the play, or motion picture. However, the line is the title for a 1972 motion picture by Woody Allen, co-starring with him are Diane Keaton and Tony Roberts.

 




























Peter Lorre did not portray Spaniard "Guillermo Ugarte", instead the Hungarian born actor, portrayed Italian "Signor Ugarte". Lorre had just been in the Horror Comedy, 1942's, "The Boogie Man Will Get You", starring Boris Karloff, and followed this feature with director Frank Capra's classic, Thriller Comedy, "Arsenic and Old Lace", starring Cary Grant, Priscilla Lane, and Raymond Massey. My article, "PETER LORRE: Overlooked, or Forgotten Performances" will be found at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2017/11/peter-lorre-overlooked-or-forgotten.html






























Sydney Greenstreet did not portray Spaniard "Senor Martinez", instead the Kent, England, born actor portrayed Italian "Signor Ferrani". Prior to this motion picture Greenstreet appeared in directors John Huston and Vincent Sherman, 1942, "Across the Pacific". He followed this motion picture with director Raoul Walsh's 1943's, "Background to Danger", co-starring with George Raft and Brenda Marshall.






























An Outline of the Story:

According to the screenplay, the story takes place in December of 1941, and that causes a bit of confusion for the detailed oriented viewer, or at least in hindsight. Is the action before, or after December 7th? I bring this up, because some of "Rick Blaine's" clientele, at "Rick's Cafe Americain", are described as refugees seeking passage to the "neutral United States", which changed after the Japanese bombed "Pearl Harbor".



























As experienced by Murray Burnett and his wife, the "Cafe Americain's" clientele, besides the refugees fleeing the Germans and those who prey upon the refugees for their own profit, are Nazi officers, and members of the French Vichy Police Force, who started to work for the Germans in Morocco, after the fall of France on June 25, 1940.



























Above, "Sam" plays for the crowd at "Rick's" and below, "Vichy Police Captain Renault" speaks to "German Major Heinrich Strasser", portrayed by Conrad Veidt, 1920's, "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" as the "Somnambulist Cesare".































"Rick" claims to be "neutral in political matters and the current war" but made his money by running guns to Ethiopia during the "Second Italo-Ethiopian War (1935 into 1937)" and fought on the "Republican Side" during the "Spanish Civil War (1936 into 1939)"

Enter petty crook, "Signor Ugarte", boasting to "Rick" that he has "German letters of transit" after he murdered the two German couriers.
























































"Ugarte" wants "Rick" to hold onto the "letters of transit" until he meets his contact at the Cafe, because the letters give the bearer unrestricted travel throughout German-occupied-Europe without question and more importantly, access to neutral Portugal and possible freedom.

However, "Signor Ugarte's" plans go astray when the openly corrupt "Captain Renault" orders his men to arrest him for the courier's murders, right after he spoke to "Rick" of his plans and gave him the "letters of transit". 









































"Ugarte" is taken to police headquarters and dies in their custody without revealing that "Rick Blaine" has the letters.


Walking into the "Cafe Americain" is "Ilsa Lund" accompanied by her husband, "Victor Laszlo", and is recognized at the entrance.



































"Ilsa" spots "Sam" at the piano, walks over, he smiles in acknowledgment of knowing her and she asks him to play: 
As Time Goes By

This causes "Rick Blaine" to rush through the crowd to stop the piano player, because he had instructed him to never play that song again and sees his former lover "Ilsa" with a strange man. 



































It is now revealed that "Ilsa" is in Casablanca to get "Rick's" help in getting her husband, a known leader of the resistance against the Germans in Czechoslovakia, to neutral Portugal and safety. It is also the reason "Major Strasser" has come to "Rick's", German intelligence knew of "Ilsa Laszlo's" plans to make contact with her old lover and sent him to wait for her and "Victor's" arrival.



























































"Signor Ferrari", a Moroccan underworld figure and a friendly rival of "Rick Blaine", meets "Victor Laszlo" and reveals his belief that "Rick" has "German letters of transit". 
































 "Victor" goes to "Rick" and makes him a large cash offer for the letters but is refused. When "Victor" asks why? "Rick's" response is for "Laszlo" to ask his wife, but before he can say anything else. They are interrupted by "Major Strasser" and other German's singing, "Die Wacht am Rhein (The Watch on the Rhine)" and "Victor Laszlo" counters with the forbidden, "La Marseillaise", the Free French National Anthem, and others join in and drown out the Germans.







"Strasser" demands that "Captain Renault" close down "Rick's" over "Victor's" afront to Germany. Using the fake discovery that at the gambling tables, he himself uses, there is gambling, "Renault" does as requested.







That night as "Rick" is seemingly alone:







"Ilsa" comes back to the "Cafe Americain" and threatens "Rick" with a gun to turn over to her the "letters of transit", but then confesses she's still in love with him and he admits the same for her.










 



"Ilsa" admits to "Rick" that back in 1940, while she prepared to leave Paris with him, as the "Battle of France (May 10th to the previously mentioned June 25, 1940)", was raging. She discovered that her husband was alive and not killed in a concentration camp as she believed. She left "Rick" without telling him to nurse her husband, who was in hiding, back to health. 

"Rick's" bitterness toward her is no more and he lies that they will stay together, after "Victor" is safely out of the German spears of influence. "Victor" suddenly appears after just getting away from a resistance meeting that was raided by the Germans and Vichy police. "Rick" has "Carl", his head waiter, played by S.Z. Sakall, take "Ilsa" away so the two men can talk freely.






"Victor" knowing that his wife is still in love with "Rick", attempts to persuade him to use the "letters of transit" for the two of them to get "Ilsa" to safety.








"Laszlo" isn't as persuasive as thinks he is, and "Rick" refuses the idea of fleeing Casablanca with "Ilsa". Later, the Vichy police arrest "Victor" on a trumped-up charge to appease "Major Strasser", but "Rick" goes to "Captain Renault" and convinces him to let the resistance leader go, promising that he will set-up "Victor Laszlo" in possession of the "German letters of transit". To put "Renault" his somewhat friend at ease, "Rick Blaine" informs the Vichy Police Captain that he and "Ilsa" will be leaving for America shortly, keeping to the lie he told her.















"Captain Renault" now attempts to arrest "Victor Laszlo" as arranged with "Rick Blaine", but finds a gun pointed at him and being forced into helping "Victor" escape Casablanca.


































"Rick" makes "Ilsa", who still believes she is going to stay with him, get on the plane to Lisbon with her husband, telling her that she will regret her decision to stay with him:
Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.


 

















Alone, "Major Strasser" arrives and attempts to stop "Victor" from getting on the plane and "Rick" shoots and kills him. When the Vichy Police arrive, "Captain Renault" tells them to round up the "usual suspects" to determine the killer of the German officer.








"Rick Blaine" and "Captain Renault" watch the plane take-off into the foggy night.























The motion picture ends with "Rick" and "Louis" walking into the fog as "Louis" suggests to "Rick" that perhaps the two should join the Free French in Brazzaville, located in the French Colonial Congo,


The Above was Not the End of the Story:

On March 19, 1943, "Casablanca" was banned in Ireland under the Irish Parliments 1939 "Emergency Powers Act ((EPA)". Which was a means for Ireland to maintain "neutrality" during war time and specifically because the motion picture showed Vichy France and Nazi Germany in a "sinister light". However, on June 15, 1945, after the "EPA" was lifted, the picture was released in Ireland. The film was censored of any dialogue referring to "Rick" and "Ilsa's" love affair. A second version, with similar but not as drastic cuts, was shown on Irish television on July 16, 1974.

A stranger version of "Casablanca" was released in West Germany in 1952. "Major Strasser" did not exist in this version, in fact, all scenes of Nazi's were removed. "Victor Laszlo", in the dubbed into German version, was no longer a Czech resistance fighter who had been in a Nazi concentration camp, but a Norwegian nuclear scientist being pursued by Interpol Agents after breaking out of jail. This version of "Casablanca" was 25-minutes shorter than the original 1942 release. The original motion picture dubbed into German was released in 1975.


After watching the "Rushes" and then the final cut of "Casablanca", Jack L. Warner believed the motion picture would be financial loss for the studio and made no qualms to anyone who would listen about his view of the film.

On March 2, 1944, at the "16th Academy Awards Ceremony" held at the "Grauman's Chinese Theatre", 6925 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, California, Jack L. Warner went into temporary shock.

The motion picture he still believed would be a financial loss won "The Best Picture Oscar".

What was supposed to happen after the announcement of the win, Producer Hal B. Wallis was to go on stage and accept the award, but as Wallis was getting up from his seat, according to Critic Ronald Haver, quoting Hal Wallis, on "The Criterion Collection" release of the picture, he was cut-off by Jack L. Warner:
with a broad, flashing smile and a look of great self-satisfaction,
as he literally ran up on stage to accept the "Oscar". 

Wallis continues his story:

I couldn't believe it was happening. Casablanca had been my creation; Jack had absolutely nothing to do with it. As the audience gasped, I tried to get out of the row of seats and into the aisle, but the entire Warner family sat blocking me. I had no alternative but to sit down again, humiliated and furious ... Almost forty years later, I still haven't recovered from the shock
One month after the "Academy Award Ceremonies", Hal B. Wallis left "Warner Brothers" and became an Independent Producer.




Earlier in 1942 was another interesting motion picture from Warner Brothers.


KINGS ROW 
 
Which was released on April 18, 1942.





Sometime during 1940, I could not locate the month, author Heinrich "Henry" Hauer Bellamann first published his novel "Kings Row". Publisher Simon and Schuster reprinted the novel the following year and when the motion picture came out, again in 1942 to further major sales. 

The novel presented "Warner Brothers" with major problems from the censors of "The Hays Office", that enforce the "Motion Picture Production Code".

According to a 2011 article by Martin Northway, published on the Chicago, Illinois', "Newcity Lit" digital magazine, and entitled: "Tragic Consequences: Fulton Missouri set the stage for 'Kings Row". Northway says that Henry Bellamann tells:

The story of Drake McHugh and his best friend Parris Mitchell coming of age in a sleepy midwest American town of the 1890s was by far Henry Bellamann's most recognized work. Exposing hypocrisy and small-town secrets, the novel deals with themes of mental illness, incest, homosexuality, suicide, gender equality in relationships, and sadistic vengeance.

Joseph Breen the head censor of the "Hayes Office" wrote to "Warner Brothers":
To attempt to translate such a story to the screen, even though it be re-written to conform to the provisions of the Production Code is, in our judgment, a very questionable undertaking from the standpoint of the good and welfare of this industry
Breen claimed he was protecting American morality and the Motion Picture Industry, itself, or so he thought by objecting to the screenplay sent for his approval that contained:

Illicit sexual relationships, without sufficient compensating moral values, and the general suggestion of loose sex...which carries throughout the entire script.
Joseph Breen further objected to the depiction of three characterizations taken directly from the novel. These were, "Cassandra" being the victim of her father's incest, the mercy killing of "Parris'" grandmother, and the sadistic "Dr. Gordon". Breen informed "Warner Brothers" that the screenplay was being referred to his superior, Will Hayes:

for a decision as to the acceptability of any production based upon the novel, Kings Row
Screenplay writer, Casey Robinson, 1935's, "Captain Blood" starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, 1939's, "Dark Victory", starring Bette Davis, George Brent and Humphrey Bogart, and 1940's, "All This, and Heaven Too", starring Bette Davis and Charles Boyer, was concerned the motion picture would never be made.

However, Executive Producer Hal B. Wallis, Associate Producer David Lewis, along with Robinson met with Joseph Breen. Several rewrites would be submitted until Breen finally agreed upon a screenplay that had changed the characters completely.

In the end to obtain approval, Breen wanted all references from the novel about, incest, nymphomania, euthanasia and homosexuality removed. Additionally, all references to nude bathing were to be eliminated, and:
the suggestion of a sex affair between Randy and Drake will be eliminated entirely
No further motion picture until the 1957 adaptation of authoress Grace Metalious' novel "Peyton Place", had such meticulous scrutiny by the "Hayes Office".








Initially, Jack L. Warner wanted Wolfgang Reinhardt, the associate producer on 1940's. "Dr. Ehlich's Magic Bullet", starring Edward G. Robinson, 1940's, "My Love Came Back", starring Olivia de Haviland, and 1942's, "The Male Animal", starring Henry Fonda, Olivia de Haviland and Joan Leslie, to produce "Kings Row". 

However, Reinhardt had similar feelings about the story as Joseph Breen. Again, turning to the "TCM Website", he is quoted as saying:

As far as plot is concerned, the material in Kings Row is for the most part either censurable or too gruesome and depressing to be used. The hero finding out that his girl has been carrying on incestuous relations with her father... a host of moronic or otherwise mentally diseased characters... people dying from cancer, suicides–these are the principal elements of the story.
Jack L. Warner, as mentioned above, gave the producing of "Kings Row" to Hal B. Wallis.


The motion picture was directed by Sam Wood. 1935's, "A Night at the Opera", and 1937's, "A Day at the Races", both starring the Three Marx Brothers, 1939's, "Good-bye Mr. Chips", starring Robert Donat and Greer Garson, and 1940's, "Kitty Foyle", starring Ginger Rodgers.







Ann Sheridan portrayed "Randy Monaghan". Sheridan had just been seen in the 1942 comedy, "The Man Who Came to Dinner", co-starring with Bette Davis and Monty Wooley, and would follow this picture with 1942's, "Juke Girl", co-starring with Ronald Reagan and Richard Whorf.







Robert Cummings portrayed "Parris Mitchell". He had just been in the comedy musical, 1941, "It Started with Eve", co-starring with Deanna Durbin, and Charles Laughton, and would follow this picture with director Alfred Hitchcock's, 1942, "Saboteur". 

Initially, "20th Century Fox" attempted to acquire the rights to Henry Bellamann's novel for Henry Fonda to portray "Parris" but lost to "Warner Brothers".

"Warner Brothers" attempted to borrow Tyrone Power, but "20th Century Fox" wouldn't let him go. According to "TCM", radio and "B" Actor Philip Reed was considered for the role and also Rex Downing. The problem with Downing is that at the time he was only seventeen. It's possible that overtime there may have been a mix-up about the role and Rex Downing was considered for the young "Parris Mitchell", that went to thirteen-year-old Scotty Beckett and not the adult role. Next, Hal B. Wallis went to Universal Pictures for Robert Cummings.  






Ronald Reagan portrayed "Drake McHugh". Reagan had just been in the 1941 crime drama, "Nine Lives Are Not Enough", and followed this feature with, 1942's "Juke Girl" with Ann Sheridan.

Prior to Ronald Reagon, Warner Brothers considered John Garfield, Dennis Morgan, Eddie Albert, Robert Preston and Franchot Tone for the role of "Drake". 


Before there was Ronald Reagan political animal, the following link takes my reader to: "RONALD REAGAN MOTION PICTURE AND TELEVISION ACTOR":

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2016/03/ronald-reagan-motion-picture-and.html












Above left, Scotty Beckett as "Parris" and Douglas Croft as "Drake".


Betty Field portrayed "Cassandra Tower". Field had co-starred with Priscilla Lane and Richard Whorf, in the 1941 Film-Noir, "Blues in the Night". She followed this picture with the 1942 comedy, "Are Husbands Necessary?", co-starring Ray Milland.

Olivia de Havilland and Ginger Rodgers were considered for the role and Sam Wood wanted Ida Lupino. Lupino turned the role down as beneath her, Wood was glad de Havilland turned it down, because he considered her two mature for "Cassandra". Bette Davis wanted the part, but Hal B. Wallis felt she would dominate the picture, but Davis recommended Field to the producer.




Claude Rains portrayed "Dr. Alexander Tower". Rains had just portrayed Lon Chaney, Jr's father in 1941's, "The Wolf Man", and followed this picture with French actor, Jean Gabin, Ida Lupino and Thomas Mitchell's 1942 Film-Noir, "Moontide".

British stage and screen actor James Stephenson was originally cast as "Dr. Tower" and filming began, but Stephenson passed away on July 29, 1941, and Claude Rains replaced him.








An Outline of What the Joseph Breen Screenplay Looked Like:


The year is 1890, and in the small midwestern rural town of "Kings Row", five young children are playmates. They are the polite and clever "Parris Mitchell" living with his grandmother, the orphaned and but wealthy fun loving "Drake McHugh", "Louise Gordon", the daughter of the town physician "Dr. Henry Gordon", played by Charles Coburn, the tomboy daughter of a railroad worker that lives on the wrong side of the tracks, "Randy Monaghan", and "Cassandra Tower" the daughter of the secretive "Dr. Alexander Tower", whose mother is only seen as a passing shadow through the curtains of an upstairs window.








"Parris" is both a friend to "Cassandra (Cassie)" and drawn to her, while the other children mostly ignore her, because her family is "strange". 





























Above, Scotty Beckett and Mary Thomas as the young "Cassandra".


The two boys are best friends and play together and tomboy "Randy" joins them very often. However, one day, "Dr. Tower" takes "Cassie" out of school and confines her to their house and for several years "Parris" and the others never see her.


"Parris" now returns to Kings Row as a grown man and medical student who is to be tutored by "Dr. Alexander Tower". He knocks on the "Tower's" front door and a grown-up "Cassie" answers his knock, but she is reluctant to answer his questions and especially about those missing years. 








The next morning "Parris" reunites with "Drake" and learns he plans to marry "Louise", played by Nancy Coleman, 1941's "Dangerously They Live" co-starring with John Garfield and Raymond Massey, who is also in love with him, but her father, "Dr. Gordon", is against the marriage. "Louise", based upon her upbring, will tell "Drake" that she will not go against her father's wishes.












    



















Below, "Parris" once again meets "Randy" who is accompanied by "Drake".































Now the "Breen Screenplay" really takes hold of Henry Bellamann's novel. 

"Cassie's" mother passed away during the years "Parris" was studying medicine. Now, he has developed a good relationship with her father and "Dr. Tower" suggests the young doctor think about going into psychiatry, but "Parris" has also started a secret romance with "Cassandra" when her father is out of the house. 





















































The grandmother of "Parris" becomes ill and passes away from cancer just before he is to leave for Vienna, Austria, to study psychiatry. Suddenly, "Cassie" comes to him begging to be taken to Vienna and away from her father. When "Parris" hesitates over what she is asking, "Cassie" runs away from him and back to her house.

The following morning "Drake" learns that "Dr. Tower" poisoned his daughter and committed suicide. He goes to his friend to tell him what has happened and to give "Parris" "Dr. Towers" notebook. In it is an entry that explains his mysterious never seen wife, she had gone insane and needed to be locked up, and now he fears his daughter is also showing signs of her mother's insanity and wanted to protect "Parris" from the same fate he had experienced by marrying "Cassandra's" mother.

 



























"Parris" leaves for Vienna to study.......









.....and "Drake's" trust fund is stolen by a dishonest bank official leaving him penniless. He goes to work for the railroad, has an accident, and "Dr. Gordon" needs to amputate both of "Drake's" legs.

"Drake" had been courting "Randy" prior to his accident and the two are married, but he has become embittered and refuses to leave his bed.




"Parris" and "Randy" exchange letters about "Drake's" emotional problems and decide with some financial help from him, she can establish a business building homes for working families. Next, "Parris" returns to "Kings Row" as a doctor of psychiatry.
































"Parris" visits "Randy and Drake" and suggests the two move into one of the homes they've built away from the railroad tracks, with the sound of the trains and the workman that upset his childhood friend. "Drake" makes "Parris" swear to never make him leave the room.






"Parris" learns that "Dr. Gordon" has died and speaking to "Louise" is told a shocking truth. Her father did not have to amputate "Drake's" legs, but he hated him and thought it was his duty to punish the wicked. "Parris" also learns of others that "Louise's" father operated upon with the same thought.










"Parris" decides to remain in Kings Row as there is no doctor in the town now, but he also considers committing the sane "Louise" to an asylum as being insane to prevent the truth about "Drake's" legs and the other victims of "Dr. Gordon" coming out.

When out walking, "Parris" comes across a new woman to Kings Row, "Elise Sador", portrayed by Kaaen Verne, 1942's "All through the Night", co-starring Humphrey Bogart and Conrad Veidt, and the Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, 1942's, "Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Weapon".

"Parris" finds out that with her father, "Elise" had moved into his childhood home. The three become very close and "Parris" starts to speak to her about "Dr. Gordon" and "Drake", adding his problem about what to do with "Louise".































Above, Kaaen Verne with Erwin Kaslser, Boris Karloff's 1941 "The Devil Commands" and 1941's Underground" with Kaaen Verne, as "Elise's" father and Robert Cummings.


"Elise" persuades "Parris" to stop thinking of "Drake" as his "Best Friend", but rather as "Any Other Patient". 

"Dr. Mitchell", psychiatrist, goes to the bedroom of "Drake McHugh" and tells him the whole story. "Drake's" response is defiant laughter, and he asks, "Dr. Mitchell", if "Dr. Gordon" thought he lived with his legs. The pressure on "Parris" has been released as "Drake" summons a will to live rather than staying in the deep clinical depression his friend worried about. 

"Parris" is now free to marry "Elise" and the motion picture screenplay switches to a very upbeat ending,



The "New York Times" critic Bosley Crowther on February 3, 1942, hit the mark on this picture in his review of "Kings Row", entitled, "THE SCREEN: 'Kings Row,' With Ann Sheridan and Claude Rains, a Heavy, Rambling Film, Has Its First Showing Here at Astor".

I have three points to make about his review:

First point, he left out in his title the actors in the film that are credited between Sheridan and Rains, Robert Cummings, Ronald Reagan, Betty Field, and Charles Colburn, as if they don't matter.

Second point, he started his article with:
Contrary to their usual caution, Warner Brothers bit off a great deal more than they could chew when they tried to make a cogent motion picture out of Henry Bellamann's gloomy and ponderous novel, "Kings Row". And the consequence is an equally gloomy and ponderous two-hour-and-seven-minute film........ 

 Third point, Bosley Crowther felt that the performances especially that of Robert Cummings were all:

totally lacking in conviction

Which gives his reasoning for not crediting them in the reviews title. 

https://www.nytimes.com/1942/02/03/archives/the-screen-kings-row-with-ann-sheridan-and-claude-rains-a-heavy.html


Crowther's thinking on the acting in the motion picture was verified by the "Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences" that did not nominate one actor for an "Oscar". Yet, "Kings Row" was nominated for "Best Picture" and lost to "Mrs. Miniver", Sam Wood for "Best Director" and lost to William Wyler for "Mrs. Miniver", and James Wong Howe for "Best Black and White Cinematography" and lost to "Mrs. Miniver"



WARNER BROTHER PRESENTS


Many television anthology series included the sponsors names in the title and the first was 1947's, "Kraft Theatre". The following year, 1948, saw five more anthologies join the "Kraft Theatre", these were "The Philco Television Playhouse", "The Ford Theatre Hour", "The Chevrolet Tele-Theatre", and two without sponsors names, "Studio One", and one of the earliest religious anthologies or series, "Lamp Unto My Feet".

My reader has to wonder who made up these program's audience? It is estimated that by July 1948 there are a total of 350,00 television sets for a United States population of 146.63 million Americans. The cost of a DuMont 20-inch television was $2,495 dollars, equal to $28,775 dollars as of this writing in December 2021.

Which brings me to "Warner Brothers Presents" that first was broadcast on "The American Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)", Tuesday, September 13, 1955, at 7:30PM and ran until Tuesday, April 24, 1956, at the same time.

The first season's programing included an approximate 6 to 15-minute commercial plug for an upcoming "Warner Brothers" feature film. Examples are the four spots for John Ford's "The Searchers", three spots for Robert Wise's "Helen of Troy", and a segment with Billy Wilder and James Stewart discussing the special effects for their movie "The Spirit of St. Louis". The problem for "ABC" that this tactic was creating came from the paying sponsors and these advertisers were complaining about "Warner Brothers" creating free advertising with their incorporated spots. Pressure was put on the network and the network put pressure of the studio and the spots stopped.


The program was not an anthology series in the true sense, that would change on September 18, 1956, when "Warner Brothers Presents" was officially ended and turned into "Conflict". 

During its short run the weekly "wheel series", rotating programs, was actually three separate television programs in the following order, "Kings Row", the Western "Cheyenne", and "Casablanca".

The first three weeks shows were:

"Kings Row", the episode was entitled, "Lady in Fear", first shown on September 13, 1955.

"Cheyenne", the episode was entitled, "Mountain Fortress", first shown on September 20, 1955.

"Casablanca", the episode was entitled, "Who Holds Tomorrow?", first shown on September 27, 1955.


I want to look at the first and third programs of "The Warner Brother Wheel" as they pertain to the two motion pictures I have mentioned.


KINGS ROW THE TELEVISION PROGRAM









The series only lasted for seven episodes, the last entitled, "Carnival", was first shown on January 17, 1956. There were only four recurring case members and "Warner Brothers" contract players found themselves assigned to the short-lived television series, mostly for one episode. Other than the names of the main characters and the location of "Kings Row", every episode was the typical television drama seen on any other program. There wasn't any other direct connection to either the 1942 motion picture, or the 1940 novel in the story lines.



Jack Kelly portrayed "Dr. Parris Mitchell". Kelly had just been seen in "Universal Internationals" adaptation of Audie Murphy's autobiography, 1955's, "To Hell and Back".

Kelly appeared in all seven episodes of "Kings Row". These were, "Lady of Fear", on September 13, 1955, "Two of a Kind", on October 4, 1955, "Ellie (a/k/a: Possessive Love)", on October 25, 1955, "Mail Order Bride", on November 15, 1955, "Introduction to Erica", on December 6, 1955, "Wedding Gift", on December 27, 1955, and, "Carnival", on January 17, 1956. 











On November 10, 1957, Jack Kelly would appear in the first of his eighty-three episodes on the "Warner Brother" series, "Maverick", as James Gardner's brother, "Bart Maverick". For those of my readers interested in that Western series, my article, "Bret and Bart 'MAVERICK' and Family" will be found at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2016/08/and-maverick-was-his-name-james-garner.html


Robert Horton portrayed "Drake McHugh" in all seven episodes. Horton had just been seen in an episode of a summer replacement anthology series, "Your Play Time", on August 6, 1955, entitled, "Call from Robert Jest". It wouldn't be until September 18, 1957, before the first of his one-hundred-and-eighty-nine episodes of "Wagon Train", as "Flint McCullough". 

Nan Leslie portrayed "Randy Monaghan" in all seven episodes. "B" Western actress Leslie had just been seen on televisions "The Lone Ranger", on July 21, 1955, in her eighth appearance in the episode entitled, "Adventure at Arbuckle". Nan Leslie had appeared multiple times on other television Western series such as, "The Cisco Kid", "The Gene Autry Show", "The Adventures of Kit Carson", "Annie Oakley", "Hopalong Cassidy" "The Range Rider" and "The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin". Leslie was also on the early Science Fiction series, "Rocky Jones, Space Ranger".















Victor Jory portrayed "Dr. Alexander Tory" in all seven episodes. Before this program, Jory appeared in an episode of the anthology series "Producers Showcase". entitled, "Yellow Jack", on January 10, 1955.





Among the contract players were Natalie Wood as "Renee Gyllinson". and Dennie Hopper as "Ted Monaghan". They appeared in those roles in both the episodes, "The Wedding Gift" and "Carnival".





Below, Natalie Wood in t the "Wedding Gift".




CASABLANCA THE TELEVISION PROGRAM

This series lasted for ten episodes and basically fell into the spy and cold war genre already on television. These included, all three "Ellery Queen" versions, between 1950 through 1959, "I Led 3 Lives", 1953 through 1956, "Casey, Crime Photographer", 1951 through 1952, "The Vise", on ABC, 1955 through 1957, and "The Man Behind the Badge", 1953 into 1955.


Charles McGraw portrayed "Rick Blaine"; some websites say his name was changed to "Jason". I could only find "Rick Blaine" when I looked up each of the ten shows individually. At the same time as he was appearing on "Casablanca", McGraw was also appearing as "Mike Waring" on the television series "Adventures of the Falcon".



























There is no "Ilsa Lund", or "Victor Laszlo" in the television series, but there were two other characters from the motion picture, sort of:

Marcel Dalio portrayed French Police "Captain Renaud". not "Renault". It should be noted that Marcel Dalio portrayed "Emil, the gambling table croupier" in the 1942 motion picture.





























Above Dalio in 1942 and below, 1955. but not in "Casablanca".






















The closest character to Ingrid Bergman's role was portrayed by Swedish actress Anita Ekberg as "Trina" in the first episode of "Casablanca". In the still below, is Clarence Muse portraying "Sam".









































Below Charles McGraw and Anita Ekberg. Ekberg was cast in "Who Holds Tomorrow", so that "Warner Brothers" could publicize, at the end, the 1955 motion picture she was in, director William Welman's, "Blood Alley", starring John Wayne and Lauren Bacall.





































The ten episodes of the series were:

"Who Holds Tomorrow", on September 27, 1955, "Black Market Operation", on October 18, 1955, "Labor Camp Escape", on November 8, 1955, "Hand of Fate", on November 29, 1955, "Family Dispute", on December 20, 1955, "Fateful Night", on January 10, 1956, "Satan's Veil", on January 31, 1956, "The Alley", on February 28, 1956, "Siren Song", on April 10, 1956, and "Deadlock", on April 24, 1956.


With both "Kings Row" and "Casablanca" as audience failures, "Warner Brothers" made a decision to fill the time slot with straight single episode drama's but keep the very popular Western "Cheyenne". Those fill-in dramas morphed into another failure for the studio, the twenty episodes of "Conflict", from September 18, 1956, to June 11, 1957.

"Warner Brothers" had success with the time slot when they created a "Western Wheel", of Clint Walker's "Cheyenne", Will Hutchens' "Sugarfoot" and Ty Harden's "Bronco".


In 1983 another television version of "Casablanca", actually a prequel with David Soul as "Rick Blaine", was made by "Warner Brothers' and lasted for five episodes, divided into the first three from April 10, 1983, to April 24, 1983, then was taken off the air until August 27, 1983, when the fourth episode was shown, followed by the fifth on September 3, 1983.






























Above, David Soul as "Rick Blaine" and Hector Elizondo as "Captain Louis Renault".


Murray Burnett and Joan Allison sued "Warner Brothers" for Royalities as the 1983 series was still based upon "Everybody Comes to Rick's" and Burnett was working, he claimed, on his own sequel to the play. but lost in 1986, when the "New York Court of Appeals" ruled the pair had signed away all their rights when they first sold the play to the studio.

 


No comments:

Post a Comment

IRWIN ALLEN: The Story of "THE STORY OF MANKIND"

Before he took us on a "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea"  and let us go through "The Time Tunnel"  to a "Towering I...