If there is one movie that Warner Bros. prizes and loves above all others in their catalog, it’s “Casablanca.” The classic movie that even people who don’t like classic movies adore, it has become an American cinematic institution, and a film that WB has re-re-re-re-released countless times on home video over the years. The film endures as one of the all time greats, so of course, that means sequels and followups have been tossed around for years.
After winning Best Picture in 1943, the studio got a sequel going titled “Brazzaville,” following Humphrey Bogart‘s Rick Blaine as an agent of the secret police, but it never got past the treatment by Frederic Stephani. Rick reappeared on the short lived TV series “Warner Bros. Presents” played by Charles McGraw, and then there was “Passage To Marseilles” which brought together Bogart, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre and Claude Rains for another exotic wartime story, but it paled in comparison to their work on “Casablanca” (itself a picture that became a classic by fluke, initially viewed by the studio has just another product in the pipeline). But never say never.
The New York Post (via The Film Stage) reveals that within the last 18 months, Warner Bros. has passed, but kept the door open for a followup titled — wait for it — “Return To Casablanca.” Penned by the film’s original, and subsequently blacklisted writer Howard Koch in the 1980s, the story follows Rick and Ilsa’s son Richard in 1961. Here’s a synopsis (of sorts):
After leaving Casablanca for America, Ilsa learned she was pregnant. She gave birth to a boy who grew up in America. The real father of the boy, it turns out, was not Laszlo but Rick.
He was conceived the night Ilsa came to Rick’s place to plead for the Letters of Transit . . . The secret was not kept from Laszlo, but being the kind of man he was and owing so much to Rick, he adopted the child and treated him as his own son.
The boy was named Richard, and he grew up to be a handsome, tough-tender young man reminiscent of his father. He had been told the truth about his origin and has a deep desire to find his real father, or at least more about him, since Rick’s heroic at actions in Casablanca have become legendary.’
Richard finds himself very much a stranger in the Arab world, a world now under Arab rule since the expulsion of the Germans and Vichy French who occupied Casablanca during the war.
….now, in 1961, a citizens movement led by an Arab woman who calls herself Joan is leading “guerrilla warfare’’ to track down “Nazi-led outlaws.’’ Richard eventually discovers his father’s fate.
The sequel is now being repped by Cass Warner, granddaughter and grand-niece of the founding heads of the studio. While she notes that WB isn’t going foward with it, “they indicated they were willing to revisit this if I could find a filmmaker they were interested in working with.” Basically, the underlying message is: “Bring this to us with a big director (and a star too wouldn’t hurt) and we’ll look at this more seriously.”
“Casablanca” is a crown jewel in the WB crown and they’re going to be very, very careful about doing anything that might ruin that brand. Do you think this is a good idea? If it does have to happen who should take it on? Let us know below.