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Is a sequel to Casablanca actually happening?

11.05.2012

CASABLANCA is a classic. No one can argue it is deserving of being considered one of the greatest movies of all time. Much like CITIZEN KANE and GONE WITH THE WIND, it is a movie that should not be remade. But, apparently a sequel is not such a bad idea.

Cass Warner, granddaughter of one of the original Warner Bros., is trying to get a sequel made to the 1942 original film. This is not the first attempt to continue the story of Rick and Ilsa. The New York Post even references a half dozen television projects that sputtered and films that never got past the development stage. There was even talk of a remake with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez back in the dark days of Bennifer.

But, the reason we never got the remake was because it was a bad idea. There is no reason to continue the story. I can think of countless movies I would like to see sequels to but if you get down to it, do they really need sequels? Sometimes films have a natural continuation point that would make a second film work. CASABLANCA does end ambiguously, but it ends. You can shoehorn in a sequel, but it would be glaringly apparent that it was forced into existence.

The only silver lining to a potential CASABLANCA sequel is that Warner has a copy a screenplay from one of the original film's screenwriters, Howard Koch. Koch was Warner's screenwriting teacher and she is attempting to get the film, entitled RETURN TO CASABLANCA, produced in celebration of Warner Bros. 90th anniversary next year.

The screenplay has existed for quite a while and Warner Bros. passed on it within the last few years but now claim they would be open to make it if the right director could be found.

According to the synopsis, RETURN TO CASABLANCA follows Ilsa and Laszlo who attempted to locate Rick after he and Renault left to join the Free French forces opposing Rommel in North Africa. They have had no success. 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. The main action of the film takes places around 1961, as the 20-year-old Richard arrives in Casablanca after the death of his mother and Laszlo. 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.

An elderly waiter who once worked for Rick takes the son to a rubble-strewn lot where they find a partly burned wooden sign. He strikes a match, holds up the sign for Richard, who can barely make out the word ‘Americain’ — the rest is illegible. At this point, we flash back to the final love scene between Rick and Ilsa in the original CASABLANCA. The waiter explains that the Nazis blew up the cafe after Rick, Ilsa and Laszlo’s escape. And that 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.

So, the potential sequel would not require any involvement from the original characters but could instead exist as a stand-alone sequel in terms of plot. While I am still not a big fan of sequels to classics (ahem, RAGING BULL II), this would be an interesting exercise, especially if a director elects to follow the format and style of the original film. As soon as I read this, I instantly thought of George Clooney's THE GOOD GERMAN, which felt like the closest thing we have had to a CASABLANCA type movie. Maybe Clooney or someone of his directing caliber would be interested in giving this a shot.

What do you think about RETURN TO CASABLANCA? Is it worth making or should the studios leave the classics alone?

Extra Tidbit: Who would you cast as the son of Bogart and Bergman?
Source: New York Post

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