5 Things You Didn't Know About Casablanca

On November 26, 1942, Casablanca, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, opened with its world premiere at the Hollywood Theater in New York. Here are 5 things you probably didn't know about one of the greatest films in history...


A Deal Was Struck to Get Ingrid Bergman Producer Hal Wallis reportedly wanted Ingrid Bergman, who was contracted to David O. Selznick, to play Ilsa Lund, even though he had the likes of Hedy Lamarr and Ann Sheridan available. In order to get Bergman, Wallis traded her for Olivia de Havilland (Lady in a Cage). It wasn’t a permanent trade, but it worked, enabling Wallis to cast the woman he wanted as the lead.

Bogart Never Said "Play It Again, Sam" It’s one of the most famous lines in film history that is emblazoned in the memory of every Casablanca viewer. Even Woody Allen made a movie called Play It Again, Sam — highlighting its popularity. Problem is, Bogart’s Rick, who is often credited with saying “Play it again, Sam” in Casablanca, never did. He said “Play it” to Sam. Bergman’s Ilsa Lund did say something along the lines of “Play it again, Sam” early on in the film but still not the exact phrase.Rick did say “Here’s looking at you, kid” and “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” The latter, which is the final line in Casablanca, was added by Bogart after shooting ended — it was dubbed in.


Bogart's Height Had to Be Adjusted Bogart, at 5’ 8” tall, was nearly two inches shorter than Bergman and that just wouldn’t work during filming. The studio got around the height difference by having Bogart stand on blocks or sit on top of cushions to appear taller than his love interest. It’s the apple box effect and all about perspective. And it’s still used today along with other techniques to give an actor an extra lift.

The Fake Rumor That Ronald Reagan Would Star in the Movie Was Intentional An erroneous legend of Casablanca is that Humphrey Bogart almost wasn't cast in the career-defining role of Rick Blaine in favor of then small time actor and future President Ronald Reagan. This little tidbit has been scattered across trivia games, quiz shows and books throughout the years, but it's mostly based on a false rumor spread by the studio behind the film. Before the script for Casablanca was even completed, the publicity office at Warner Bros. dropped a fake press release to The Hollywood Reporter stating that "Ann Sheridan and Ronald Reagan will co-star in Casablanca," a detail that they knew to be false, but spilled anyway in order to keep the stars' names in the papers in advance of the release of another film they were really in, Kings Row. The truth was that director Hal Wallis never considered anyone but Bogart for the role, and the studio knew Reagan was about to be called into active duty for the U.S. Army.

The Movie Wasn’t Expected to Be a Hit The script was unfinished during filming; Bogart was drinking and picking fights; Bergman was concerned about her next film, For Whom the Bell Tolls; and actor Paul Henreid, who played Victor Laszlo, called it a “lousy script.” However, instead of becoming an ordinary film that came and went, it became a classic and the one that people quoted lines from more than any other movie in history. It received eight nominations for an Academy Award and won for Best Director, Best Writing Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture.