Sunday, April 09, 2006

'Casablanca' gets honors for a great screenplay

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - The screenplay from the film Casablanca was named one of the best screenplays ever in a poll announced last week by members of the Writers Guild of America.

They should know, they write nearly all of them.

Casablanca is my favorite movie of all time, even though I have others that I would watch over and over too, like Captain Ron, High Noon and Insurrection (a Star Trek movie).

But Casablanca has adventure and romance and idealism and evil and good and great music all rolled up into a package that I've viewed so much that I can recite entire sceens. And I own a copy of a book with all the dialogue in case I can't remember parts.

My good friend John Norton, now a business editor at a newspaper in Colorado, introduced me to the film in the early 1970s when it was shown at Sonoma State College, where I had gotten my bachelor's degree in English.

There was a secretary in the Physics Department there who bore a striking resemblance to Ingrid Bergman (in the photo with the ever-recognizable Humphrey Bogart). We hung out in her office whenever we thought we could get away with it, though we were supposed to be working on stories for the Petaluma Argus-Courier, our employer at the time.

If, by some chance, you have never seen this film, rearrange your Netflix queue, or head to Blockbuster video, or even scan the cable channels to see when it will be broadcast again.

It's worth it.

Here's a photo from a famous scene with Dooley Wilson at the piano. And, in case you didn't know, Humphrey Bogart's character never says in the movie, "Play it again, Sam."

And on top of that, Dooley Wilson didn't know how to play the piano - he faked it in the movie.


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