When we last saw Humphrey Bogart’s Rick Blaine he was heading off into the night fog with his new friend/former sparring partner Louis Renault (Paul Henreid) to finally take a side in the growing global conflict of World War Two. It is a great ending to one of the greatest films Hollywood has ever made, but that hasn’t stopped people from wondering what happened next.
While a sequel to the classic Casablanca has never been made that could change if Cass Warner, granddaughter of Warner Brothers Studios co-founder Harry Warner and grand-niece of Jack L. Warner, can interest the current day administration of the studio in a follow up that would focus on the son of Rick and his former lover Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman).
The story that Warner is pitching to the studio originates with Howard Koch, one of the main scriptwriters who worked on the original film in 1941. The two met in 1988 when Koch was teaching screenwriting in Santa Barbara. After finding out that his student’s grandfather and granduncle were his former employers, the pair quickly bonded. Visiting the writer at his home in Woodstock, NY, Warner found the manuscript that Koch had written titled Return To Casablanca. After Koch stated that his age kept him from getting any kind of representation in the youth-oriented industry town, Warner vowed to try and get the project made.
Koch’s story is set in 1961 and features the result of Rick and Ilsa’s tryst in the film returning to Casablanca to try and find his father, who had disappeared during the war. As young Richard searches for his father, he becomes involved with an Arab woman named Joan who is leading a guerrilla warfare campaign against Nazi-led outlaws.
The studio turned down the proposal in 1989. Although Koch died in 1995, Warner has continued to be an advocate for the project. She pitched it again to the Warner Brothers a year and a half ago as a possible prestige project to tie into the studio’s 90th anniversary next year, but the studio passed. Warner still hopes that she get some traction for the project.
Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time that additional stories about Bogart’s Rick were told or contemplated. In the wake of Casablanca’s initial success, Warner Brothers had staff writer Frederic Stephani pen a treatment for a sequel called Brazzaville, after the location of the Free French garrison that Rick and Renault were heading off to at the end of the first film, but they decided to pass on the idea. The studio did include a Casablanca segment in their 1955 television series Warner Bros. Presents but it was cancelled after seven episodes. A 1983 prequel television series headlined by Starskey & Hutch co-star David Sould fared even worse, getting cancelled after three of its five produced episodes aired. A 1998 sequel novel, As Time Goes By, did not fare well with critics.
Thinking on the possibility of this sequel, I find myself of two minds. Initially, I find the idea rather sacrilegious, as I am sure that most film buffs would. But on the other hand, the initial story was written by Koch, who in addition to Casablanca has such classics as Virgina City, The Seahawk (both 1940) and Sergeant York (1941) to his credit. And by centering the action on Rick and Ilsa’s son, you don’t have the Herculean task of having to re-cast those iconic roles, a sure project killer if there was one.
Via NY Post.