75th Anniversary of Casablanca, Part III

January 18, 2017

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This is a continuation of the blogs that were posted on January 4th and 11th. All the excerpts in these blogs are from Round Up the Usual Suspects: The Making of Casablanca – Bogart, Bergman and World War II by Aljean Harmetz.

CLAUDE RAINS (Captain Louis Renault) – Cont’d from 1/11/17

Humphrey Bogart, Claude Rains, Paul Henreid and Ingrid Bergman

  • His military career: Rains had turned a cockney boy with a speech impediment into an officer and a gentleman. He had done what was almost impossible in the class-bound British society: he had entered the Army as a private and emerged a captain.
  • His voice: It was partly because of his voice – wry, insinuating, seductive, cultured. “That voice was one of the great actors’ voices that I have ever heard,” says New Republic critic Stanley Kauffmann. “It was easy, warm, and had a tremendous range. Rains could make it do whatever he wanted.” Comment: Kauffmann was a film reviewer who died in 2013 at 97.
  • His martial record: In 1942, Rains was happy. He was married to the fourth of his six wives, and at fifty-two, he was the father of a four-year-old daughter, his first and only child. Comment: Bogart was married four times and Bergman three, or, put another way: thirteen marriages for three people.
  • A passion for farming: Rains found Southern California “bare, cold and brown.” His heart belonged to a 380-acre farm in Pennsylvania. He sat on the set of Casablanca and read fertilizer and soybean brochures. Comment: I find this hilarious.

PAUL HENREID (Victor Laszio)

  • His reaction to Casablanca: “I saw the script, and I turned it down,” said Henreid in 1991. “I thought it was a ridiculous fairy tale.”

SYDNEY GREENSTREET (Signor Ferrari)

  • His career: After spending forty years on the stage, Sydney Greenstreet “Fat Man” made his film debut at the age of sixty-one in The Maltese Making up for lost time, he acted in twenty-four movies between 1941 and 1949. Comment: Astounding!
  • His fans: After The Maltese Falcon Greenstreet’s fan mail arrived at Warner Bros. addressed simply to “Fat Man.” When he died in 1954 at the age of seventy-four, his obituaries said, “The Fat Man Dies.”
  • His acting: “To some acute Hollywood eye, Greenstreet represented a niche that needed to be filled,” says Stanley Kauffmann. “There were other fat men in movies, but not with the depravity under that smile.”
  • The risk for horses: Greenstreet told this story many times: He was crossing a New York Street, he said, when he was run down by a horse and cart. He was uninjured; the horse was so badly hurt that it had to be destroyed.

PETER LORRE (Ugarte)

Peter Lorre (center) with Humphrey Bogart (right)

  • His image: Peter Lorre was an intellectual. He was also an actor of delicacy and depth who was betrayed by his body. Most of the press releases said he was 5’ 5” but he was probably shorter.

DOOLEY WILSON (Sam)

Dooley Wilson (Sam, the piano player), Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman

UPDATE: The Belly Dance Museum collection has been bought by a gallery: one auction took place on 1/1/17 and the second on 1/15/17. See our blog

 

Shaun Nelson-Henrick          TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK

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