Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Movie lines I love: on Old Postcard Wednesday--Casablanca, featuring the Majestic Cinema

This is my favorite postcard of all, including those that belonged to my grandmothers and those I have added to the collection since beginning Old Postcard Wednesday. It is, in fact, one that I bought from a Paris vintage postcard vendor earlier this year. When I first saw it online I thought I probably could not afford it. I mean, look, this is a postcard of a movie theater in Casablanca! It was affordable, possibly because of the stamp and cancellation being on the front of the card, something I think rather adds to the character of this beauty mailed in 1923 by someone with the most gorgeous handwriting, who used ink the color of the stamp. I cannot make out the words in the message sufficiently enough to key into Google translator, so if any of the written words jump out at you please let me know what they mean. {Postscript: Roxana graciously translated the card in her comments following this post. Thank you so much, Roxana.} The more I look at this postcard, especially after enlarging it here, the more I see.....and I may do something I have not done with any other cards, put it in a frame.

The Majestic Cinema was showing The Three Musketeers (Les Trois Mousquetaires) when the photographer took this shot. There are two large poster boards in front of the theater, undoubtedly movie posters for the Douglas Fairbanks production released in 1921.

The image is full of life, as if a director had just called out "Action!" ....notice the movement caught in the horse-drawn buggy where the driver's stick can be traced against the roof in the background as his hand is directing it to maneuver the horses, and notice the graceful working legs in motion of the horse in the background while in the foreground the other horse, head held high, has a less active gait. Where the image looks like a movie scene itself, the people and animals here were actually going about living one day of their lives in a city that would be featured in a great film nearly 20 years later, after which the name Casablanca would have cinematic meaning and would make personal memories for millions of fans on into the future.

Casablanca, which premiered 68 years ago, was shot on the studio lot, the Van Nuys airport, and Flagstaff, Arizona, yet anyone who has seen the film seems to have a feeling of having been in the film's namesake city.
Although an initial release date was anticipated for spring 1943, the film premiered at the Hollywood Theater in New York City on November 26, 1942, to coincide with the Allied invasion of North Africa and the capture of Casablanca. In the 1,500-seat theater, the film grossed $255,000 over ten weeks. It went into general release on January 23, 1943, to take advantage of the Casablanca conference, a high-level meeting between Churchill and Roosevelt in the city. It was a substantial but not spectacular box-office success, taking $3.7 million on its initial U.S. release, making it the seventh best-selling film of 1943. The Office of War Information prevented screening of the film to troops in North Africa, believing it would cause resentment among Vichy supporters in the region. - Wikipedia

ILSA: Play it, Sam. Play "As Time Goes By."

RICK: I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray, you wore blue. 

MAJ. STRASSER: You give him credit for too much cleverness. My impression was that he's just another blundering American.
CAPT. RENAULT: We musn't underestimate "American blundering". I was with them when they "blundered" into Berlin in 1918. 

CAPT. RENAULT: What in heaven's name brought you to Casablanca?
RICK: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
CAPT. RENAULT: The waters? What waters? We're in the desert.
RICK: I was misinformed. 

RICK: Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.

VICTOR LASZLO: Play the "Marseillaise."... Play it!  

CAPT. RENAULT: Because my dear Ricky, I suspect that underneath that cynical shell you are at heart a sentimentalist.

CAPT. RENAULT: Major Strasser has been shot. Round up the usual suspects.

ILSA: But what about us?
RICK: We'll always have Paris.

RICK: Here's looking at you kid.  

RICK: Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

-from Casablanca (1942)

I was not able to find if Casablanca, when first released, was ever shown in Casablanca at The Majestic or another theater. But I did find the following fascinating information:
... If you find yourself in Casablanca, Morocco today you really can go to Rick's. An American woman has opened a replica of the famous cafe. And yes there is a piano player who plays As Time Goes By every night and it's quite a coincidence but his name is Isam.


Anonymous said...

Great post Lydia!

One of my favourite old films too.

And I love the line about the waters.

Richard Theodore Beck said...

My favorite lines in the movie...

I'll paraphrase:

When Strasser says to Rick, How would you feel about the Reich being in New York.

Rick says, There are some places in New York I would advise you not to go.

kj said...

CAPT. RENAULT: What in heaven's name brought you to Casablanca?
RICK: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
CAPT. RENAULT: The waters? What waters? We're in the desert.
RICK: I was misinformed.

so understated and hilarious!

lydia, how come our handwritings don't look like they did back then? is it the loss of the fountain pen?

so much history in these postcards. and lydia this one i hope you do frame. ♥

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

ah, great, great film. Humphrey Bogart was genius casting. Did you know that one of the early contenders for the role was Ronald Regan? I kid you not.

I love that scene where the local resistance are outsinging the Germans - and of course the final scene as she gets onto the plane

The actual line "play it again Sam" that people think appears in the film actually appears only in a Woody Allen spoof

Kittie Howard said...

Great post! I also love the line, "We'll always have Paris."

Thanks for the film's history. For some reason, I thought the film had enjoyed a larger debut, ranked higher than 7th. Doesn't matter, I never tire of Casablanca, would love to visit the city...some day.

Phivos Nicolaides said...

This old post card you got is absolutely gorgeous. I would love to read what is written on it. History, culture, people and life appear all together in this stunning post card. Lucky you have it Lydia! Hugs.

j said...

We recently watched the Woody Allen movie Play it Again Sam, which reminded me of how long it's been since I've seen Casablanca. Your post convinces me it's been too long.

I've been stopping by without commenting lately. I'm hoping the words will come more easily soon.

Looking to the Stars said...

I loved this!!!!! I had no idea about the history of the movie or the place. I found it so neat, that a woman opened a bar there with the name of the one in the movie. And of course, the classic lines from this movie are wonderful. Great job, thanks for sharing :)

Manuela said...

as someone else commented, it's been too long since i saw this movie - i'll go and rectify that right away, and thank you for the reminder :)

i am touched, reading your post, and also the comments, because of this connection i feel with everyone who's been similarly touched by the same movie. how wonderful!

K. said...

"You despise me, don't you?"
"I probably would if I gave you any thought."

"I'm shocked -- shocked! -- to find out that there's gambling here."
"Your winnings, sir."
"Thank you very much."

Actually, no one blundered into Berlin in 1918. WWI ended with an armistice and Germany was never occupied.

La Belette Rouge said...

My favorite moment in Casablanca is when they sink La Marseilles. I cry every time.

Lydia said...

madamebutterfly~ Such a favorite of so many...and that waters line cracks me up every time!

Theodore Daniel Richards~ You know, when I was looking at quotes from the movie I saw the one you are referring to and I realized it wasn't all that familiar to me, so I did not include it (how can it be a movie line i love if i don't remember it?....). Now the next time I watch the film I will take note of that line!

kj~ I think you and I have the same sense of humor, and we can include madamebutterfly in the club. That waters line: priceless!
Re: handwriting, do you think it's the way it is/is not taught in elementary schools anymore? Also, people even talk differently than they did when this film was made. Quirks of our evolution?

Pixies~ I read that Reagan information only yesterday when I was preparing the post. It would not have been the classic it is if that had been the ultimate casting! I did know about the erroneous repeating of the line about Sam, though.
Love the singing scene too.

Kittie Howard~ Tell you what. If I win some millions in a lottery I will set up a tour to Casablanca for all who commented about this post, if they would so choose to go. Seriously. But fat chance!

Phivos~ Your appreciation of this postcard makes me smile. I wonder if you have been to Casablanca...

Jennifer~ Never an apology needed about commenting (or not).
Thank you for reminding me of the Woody Allen film; it was so good and would be fun to see again. Maybe would be fun to see both of them in one weekend.

Looking to the Stars~ Thanks. I love your appreciation of the post and the history behind the movie and the new history being made at the new Ricks!

Manuela~ I loved your comments. They spoke to the universal appeal of this film and how it bonds us to one another and even to the past. Thank you.

K~ Great quotes from the film. I put the one about blundering in my selection of quotes in spite of it being one of the "stretches of reality" in the film. I read more "stretches" and goofs at several sites yesterday. They don't detract from the movie for me, though (I will not let them!).

Belette Rouge~ It is my favorite scene too (when they sing that) as it was my introduction to the anthem the first time I watched the movie as a little girl. I began processing the fact that there were people in the world who loved their countries aha! moment of sorts.

Helen said...

This is such a wonderful bit of writing .... don't forget to board that bus!

Lydia said...

Helen~ Thank you...and thank you again for the reminder about the bus. I haven been on board for quite a few weeks and will see if my muse will take a ride with me. :)

susan said...

It seems to me that modern American films have lost the sense of maturity they displayed up to the 1950's. Do you think television might have been the cause?

The postcard is a beauty and congrats to your collector's eye.

Lydia said...

susan~ Wow, what a way to describe what the old films had that do seem to now have in short supply: a sense of maturity. I would imagine that television is in part responsible. I have a feeling that it also has something to do with the cessation of the big movie studios (rather paternal things they were) and their being replaced more and more by indie companies and start-ups. The independent films are artistic, I'll give them that, but they are frequently immature in their approach to life!

susan said...

The star system having been replaced by the celebrity system where everyone must be brought down to a common denominator hasn't helped either.

Lydia said...

susan~ You are right. And today I thought of another possible contributor: the rating system. There is little room for innuendo and even irony when you must fit into a PG-X rating.

Roxana said...

i love this film so and reading this card made my heart beat faster, it always does when people's lives from the past touch my own in such an intimate way.

the card says:

to Mister C., teacher at the boys college, Abbeville

Casablanca, 13th of june, 1923

dear friend, the same uncertainty at M..., my brother went there to search for his family to bring it back with him but couldn't find (?) our parents. Under these circumstances it is very possible that i accept your invitation for which i am very grateful, so please speak to the person you told me about. i am, as you, in the time of essays and exams [he seems to be a teacher as well], i will be free in the last week of this month. but i also have a lot of work to do in the lab and the heat is becoming heavier, so going to France will feel very refreshing. and it would be so nice to see you again.
i wish you and your little girls good health, my dear friend, and give you a hug.

Lydia said...

Roxana~ O, Roxana! Your beautiful skill in translating the back of the card, and the way you presented this message from the past, is so impressive and moving. I cannot thank you enough for this. It does make the card all the more meaningful. What a deeper sense of history now swirls around the card, and a deeper sense of mystery, also.
Much love to you across the miles, L

C.M. Jackson said...

I am shocked! Shocked and appalled to find gambling going on here.

Your winnings, sir.

Oh thank you, thank you very much.

great post for a great movie!!


Lydia said...

C.M.~ Thanks. I love the lines you quoted too. I grew up in Reno and my mother was a 21 dealer for years. I remember being a little confused by that scene when I was a kid!



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