Two Classic "Warner Brothers" motion pictures and their reinvention as two "Warner Brothers" television series within the umbrella, or wheel of a third.
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
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.
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:
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.
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 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:
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.,
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.
Enter petty crook, "Signor Ugarte", boasting to "Rick" that he has "German letters of transit" after he murdered the two German couriers.
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.
"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.
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,
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.
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".
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 shockOne 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.
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.
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.
According to the "TCM" website:
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
Illicit sexual relationships, without sufficient compensating moral values, and the general suggestion of loose sex...which carries throughout the entire script.
for a decision as to the acceptability of any production based upon the novel, Kings Row
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
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.
Prior to Ronald Reagon, Warner Brothers considered John Garfield, Dennis Morgan, Eddie Albert, Robert Preston and Franchot Tone for the role of "Drake".
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.
"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 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.
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.
"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"
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.
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 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
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.
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".
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".
"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".
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.