Saturday, October 2, 2021

Continuing: My Third Top 10 + 2

Continuing my third list of Top Ten Films + 2, based on the Otto Watchability and Repeated Watching Index © . . .

The list so far:
1. Breakfast Club
2. The Enemy Below
3. The Searchers
4. The Quiet Man
5. Forrest Gump
6. Midnight Sting
7. Once Upon a Time in the West
8. Shawshank Redemption
9. Kill Bill
10. A Night at the Opera

Before looking at No 11, let me raise something from a previous post . . .

Stephen Grellet once famously said:

'I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again."

Maurice Bowra (1898-1971) paraphrased Grellet’s quote:

“I expect to pass through this world but once and therefore if there is anybody that I want to kick in the crutch I had better kick them in the crutch now, for I do not expect to pass this way again.”

Here is my paraphrase of the paraphrase:

I expect to post my Third Top 10 + 2 but once and therefore, if I have the chance to piss Steve M off again with my choices, let me do it now, for I do not expect to pass this way again.”

So, Stevie Boy, here is No 11 . . .

11. Casablanca (1942):

Another oldie and goodie. What can I say? Great script, great cast, great moments, great film, which is not bad considering that although Casablanca was an A-list film with established stars and first-rate writers, no one involved with its production expected it to be anything other than one of the hundreds of ordinary pictures produced by Hollywood that year. It was even rushed into release to take advantage of the publicity from the Allied invasion of North Africa a few weeks earlier. A surprise to Warner Brothers, it received the Oscar nod for best pic and best director for Michael Curtiz. I still get goosebumps each time I watch the "La Marseillaise" scene (but if you tell anyone, I will need to kill you).

By the way:

Some anecdotes about this wonderful film:
  • Many of the actors who played the Nazis were in fact German Jews who had escaped from Nazi Germany.
  • During the scene in which the "La Marseillaise" is sung over the German song "Die Wacht am Rhein" ("The Watch on the Rhine"), many of the extras had real tears in their eyes as a large number were also actual refugees from Nazi persecution in Germany and elsewhere in Europe and were overcome by the emotions the scene brought out.
  • The iconic "La Marsaillaise" sequence was intended to have been even more pointed against the Nazis. The original song Maj. Strasser and the other Germans were to sing was not "Die Wacht am Rhein", a patriotic song written in 1840 and extensively used in the Franco-German War and in World War I, but instead "Das Horst-Wessel-Lied", the Nazi Party anthem and unofficial second national anthem of Nazi Germany. However, Warner Bros. changed it when it realized that the song was under copyright, which wouldn't have been a problem if the film were only being distributed in Allied territory. However, as the film was going to be released in neutral countries as well, it could have caused major diplomatic headaches and even opened Warner Bros. to the absurd possibility of being sued by the Nazis for copyright infringement. Or having to pay them royalties.
  • Because the film was made during WWII the production was not allowed to film at an airport after dark for security reasons. Instead, it used a sound stage with a small cardboard cutout airplane and forced perspective. To give the illusion that the plane was full-sized, they used little people to portray the crew preparing the plane for take-off.
  • Conrad Veidt, who played Maj. Strasser, was well known in the theatrical community in Germany for his hatred of the Nazis, and his friendship with Jews. (His wife, Ilona "Lily" Prager", was Jewish.) He was forced to flee his own country when he learned the SS had sent a death squad after him. Veidt only played film villains during WWII as he was convinced that playing suave Nazi baddies would help the war effort.
  • Humphrey Bogart's then-wife, actress Mayo Methot, continually accused him of having an affair with Ingrid Bergman, often confronting him in his dressing room before a scene was to be shot. Bogart would come onto the set in a rage. In fact, despite the undeniable on-screen chemistry between Bogart and Bergman, they hardly spoke.
  • Back in the mid-2000s, Madonna wanted to remake the film with her as IIsa Lund and Ashton Kutcher as Rick. She pitched the idea to every studio but was unanimously rejected by every studio with one studio executive telling her the "film is deemed untouchable". She eventually scrapped the proposed project.
  • Rick never says "Play it again, Sam." He says: "You played it for her, you can play it for me. If she can stand it, I can. Play it!" The incorrect line has become the basis for spoofs in movies such as A Night in Casablanca (1946) and Play It Again, Sam (1972).
  • Director Michael Curtiz's Hungarian accent often caused confusion on the set. He asked a prop man for a "poodle" to appear in one scene. The prop man searched high and low for a poodle while the entire crew waited. He found one and presented it to Curtiz, who screamed, "A poodle! A poodle of water!"
  • The letters of transit that motivate so many characters in the film did not exist in Vichy-controlled France--they are purely a plot device invented by the screenwriters. Playwright Joan Alison always expected somebody to challenge her about the letters, but nobody ever did.
  • How many iconic movie quotes from this film . . .
Here's looking at you, kid.

Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By.'

Round up the usual suspects.

We'll always have Paris.

Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.
  • In Peter Biskind's book, 'My Lunches with Orson', Orson Welles recounted a conversation he had had with Humphrey Bogart during the filming of 'Casablanca', in which Bogart reportedly stated, "I'm in the worst picture I've ever been in."
(Funnily enough, as I was writing this with the TV on in the background, Casablanca came on the TV).

So what is your opinion, Steve?


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