75th Anniversary of Casablanca, Part II
This is a continuation of the blog that appeared on January 4th, which kicked off the 75th Anniversary of this marvelous movie. All the excerpts quoted here are from the book Round Up the Usual Suspects: The Making of Casablanca – Bogart, Bergman and World War II by Aljean Harmetz.
HUMPHREY BOGART (Rick Blaine) – Cont’d from 1/4/17
A love of sailing: Bogart learned to sail on Canandaigua Lake, where his family had a summer home, and for the rest of his life the sea would represent a freedom that was not available to him on land.
The demands of acting: Love scenes were uncharted water for Bogart. Nearly a dozen years after Casablanca, Bogart told a biographer that love scenes still embarrassed him.
The risks for actors: Bogart warned Lauren Bacall, whom he married when she was twenty and he was forty-five, that the occupational hazard for an actor was playing love scenes with attractive people.
INGRID BERGMAN (Ilsa Lund)
The beginning: At twenty-six, the Swedish actress had a charmed career but a difficult life. Her mother died when she was three, her father when she was twelve; and the aunt who took care of her after her father’s death died six months later. Accepted at Stockholm’s Royal Dramatic Theater School, she left after a year when she was offered a film contract. She was a star eighteen months later, at the age of twenty.
Her career: Bergman was most comfortable in the artificial world of whatever movie she was making, whatever character she was creating. A bemused Gary Cooper once said, “In my whole life I never had a woman so much in love with me as Ingrid was. The day after the picture ended, I couldn’t get her on the phone.”
Her voice: Her voice and her face could make almost anything believable. In 1947, several top soundmen agreed that Bergman had the sexiest voice of any actress. “The middle register of her voice is rich and vibrant, which gives it a wonderfully disturbing quality,” said Francis Scheid. “It’s sexy in a refined, high-minded way.”
Her hair: Although Bergman lacked star temperament, she was immovable in demanding whatever she thought was necessary for her character. On Casablanca, she refused to allow Burt [Jean Burt, her hairdresser] to set her hair or even use bobby pins or hairpins. When you see Casablanca on TV now, her hairdo, because it was simple, looks as right now as it did then.
Her acting: Bergman had to hold the audience even when she was saying dialogue that was so richly romantic that it was almost a parody, including “Was that cannon fire?” “Or was it my heart pounding?”
Her fans: In later years, Bergman would get annoyed when people told her that they had loved her in “She didn’t come from the school of improvising or going with the flow. That’s why she was piqued that something that seemed haphazard turned out to be everybody’s favorite movie,” says Bergman’s eldest daughter, Pia Lindstrom.
A passion for poker: According to the unit publicist’s notes, Bergman’s hairdresser and her English coach taught the actress poker – using hairpins as chips – during the long waits on the set.
CLAUDE RAINS (Captain Louis Renault)
Claude Rains and Humphrey Bogart
The beginning: “He didn’t go to school past the second grade,” says his daughter, Jessica. “He was one of twelve children. All but two died. He had a very serious cockney accent and a speech impediment.” Comment: I find these facts astounding.
TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK
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