6 November 2014

The beginning of a beautiful friendship

Several writers contributed to the script of Michael Curtiz's famous classic "Casablanca" (1942). The main writers were the twins Julius and Philip Epstein who were responsible for most of the film's dialogue and wit, and Howard Koch who provided the melodramatic and political elements. Casey Robinson (uncredited) was hired for three weeks to do rewrites, mainly contributing to the love story between Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman; a lot of dialogue was also taken directly from the original play "Everybody comes to Rick's" by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison. None of these writers, however, came up with the famous last line of the film, "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship". The line was supplied by producer Hal Wallis and was chosen over three other lines: 1)"Louis, I begin to see a reason for your sudden attack of patriotism. While you defend your country, you also protect your investment." 2) If you ever die a hero's death, Heaven protect the angels!" and 3) Louis, I might have known you'd mix your patriotism with a little larceny." 

In the following memo to editor Owen Marks, dated 7 August 1942, Hal Wallis presents his last two choices for the film's final line (option number 3 (above), which Wallis also wrote, and the line finally chosen). And as filming had already finished, Wallis asks Marks to bring Bogart in to record the lines.


TO MR. OWEN MARKS                            

DATE August 7, 1942


Attached is copy of the new narration for the opening of the picture.

There are also to be two wild lines made by Bogart. Mike is trying to get Bogart today, but if he does not succeed, will you get Bogart in within the next couple of days.

The two lines to be shot with Bogart, in the event that Mike does not get them, are:

RICK: Luis, I might have known you'd mix your patriotism with a little larceny.

(Alternate line)

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

Also, I think you had better have the narration made up by some stock actor until I can select the actor who will do it for the picture.


*Note: The actor whom Wallis eventually picked to do the opening narration was Lou Marcelle (uncredited). And Mike is of course director Michael Curtiz.

Left photo: Hal Wallis. Right: Humphrey Bogart and Claude Rains in the final scene of "Casablanca".

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