Movie Talk

The pros and cons of a ‘Casablanca’ sequel

Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in 'Casablanca' (Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures)
Yes, there is a script. But does that really mean a sequel to the Oscar-winning silver screen classic "Casablanca" -- which has topped several best movies of all-time lists -- will actually get made?

The answer is not yet clear. But its chances seem better now more than ever.

That's because one person related to the 70-year-old movie wants it to happen. That person is movie producer Cass Warner, granddaughter of Warner Bros. co-founder Harry Warner -- the man who presumably gave the green light on the iconic film.

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Ironically, there's another "Casablanca" descendant who has voiced opposition to a sequel -- Humphrey Bogart's son, Stephen, who thinks it would tarnish the memory of the famous film. "There are certain films, like 'The Wizard of Oz,' 'Gone with the Wind' and, of course, 'Casablanca,' that need to stay as pristine and perfect as they are," he told the NY Post in a piece about Warner's campaign for a sequel.

Incidentally, "Casablanca" sequels have been bandied about for years but never really made it past the treatment phase, according to TIME.

Here is what we see as the pros and cons of a "Casablanca" sequel:

Pro: The script is by the original "Casablanca" writer. Warner not only has a script, but she has the treatment to a sequel written by original "Casablanca" screenwriter Howard Koch. She discovered the work, written in 1980, in his Woodstock, New York, home after the two became friends in his screenwriting class. "It was just gold," Warner told EW in a recent interview. "When he pulled that out and showed it to me, I almost fainted."

Con: Stars of the sequel will be under a microscope. How can anyone hold a candle to Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman? The fear Warner Bros. may have right now is that any star -- no matter how talented --will likely be harshly judged against their iconic predecessors.

Pro: The original left everyone wanting more. "Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship," Rick Blaine (Bogart) says in the last line in "Casablanca." Audiences were, and always have been, left wanting to see what happens next.

Con: Those famous one-liners can't be matched. "Here's looking at you, kid." "We'll always have Paris." -- Even though 'ol Koch probably has some good ones in his back pocket, new one-liners run the heavy risk of seeming cliche as time has gone by.

Another count against the sequel is that Hollywood doesn't have the best track record in revisiting classics. The 1995 remake of another Bogart film, "Sabrina," starring Harrison Ford and Julia Ormond, failed to make back its budget at the box office (though it was nominated for two Oscars). Also, the litany of ambitious "Wizard of Oz" remakes and spinoffs -- including "The Wiz" (1978) and "Return to Oz" (1985) -- over the years haven't matched the enduring financial and artistic force of the original film version starring Judy Garland (but it should be noted the original wasn't an instant hit). Perhaps this is also a daunting sign for Sam Raimi's upcoming "Oz: The Great and Powerful" starring Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams and James Franco.

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"Return to Casablanca" is the working title of Koch's treatment. The story revolves around Ilsa (originally played by Bergman) and Victor Laslo's search for Rick (Bogart) who had joined Free French forces that opposed a Nazi general in North Africa. Turns out, Ilsa had Rick's son. Nope, the kid wasn't her husband Laslo's. According to the treatment, Ilsa's son, now in his twenties, is "handsome, tough-tender young man reminiscent of his father."

Watch a 'Casablanca' DVD Clip on Ingrid Bergman:
'Casablanca' DVD Clip: Ingrid Bergman

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