Now, I think that Casablanca is the greatest movie ever. I’ve seen it far more times than any other movie, and I rarely pass up a chance to sit down and watch it again when TCM runs it. I had never seen a Humphrey Bogart movie until my early twenties. Then, I went to the Ohio Theater, an amazing place on the National Register of Historic Places, to see Casablanca on a HUGE screen. There was even organ music during the intermission. I was hooked for life and I now own almost every movie Bogart appeared in. I’m a virtual Cliff Claven of Casablanca trivia, and I’ve even written two short stories centered around the movie.
Frederick Stephani was a screenwriter who had penned the first Flash Gordon movie that Buster Crabbe starred in. He also did the screenplay for Johnny Holiday, a hardboiled movie starring William Bendix. After the success of Casablanca, Warners had him write a treatment for a sequel, working title Brazzaville – after the Free French garrison that Renault suggests he and Rick visit as they walk away from the airport at the close of the film.
BRAZZAVILLE – CASABLANCA SEQUEL
Rick and Renault drive to Rick’s Cafe to find some unhappy Germans waiting for them. The Germans demand that Renault either arrest Rick, or turn him over to them. Rick says he’d rather be arrested. I can see Bogart wryly saying that. Renault smiles and looks at his watch; it’s 6:00.
He asks his aide, presumably Lt. Casselle, how long it takes to get a cable to, and a response from, Vichy. He is told, ‘six hours.’ He asks the Germans what charge is to be made against Rick. That’s reminiscent of him telling Strasser he has no reason to shut down the cafe in Casablanca. The Germans tell him some trumped up charges. Unlike the incident with Strasser, he stands up to them. He explains that Casablanca is still a free territory and they need to substantiate their charges. He adds that anyone can prefer charges, but if they can’t be proven, it will cause trouble for Renault.
The Germans, knowing that Renault is with Vichy, are confident, but don’t see the wink that he gives Rick. Rick then levels some made up charges against them! Rains decides he likes Rick’s charges better and arrests the Germans. They are furious and threaten vengeance. Renault offers to let them use the cables to contact Vichy to complain (Nobody plays cool and urbane like Claude Rains). Bogart is bemused.
Later, in Rains’ office, Bogart tries to find out what Louis is up to, but Renault puts him off and tells him to concentrate on their chess games. Renault is unconcerned by his very unhappy German prisoners.
A few minutes before midnight, a wire is received from Vichy. It orders that Rick be arrested and that the Germans be released. Renault orders the Germans brought in and reads the news to them; apparently enjoying it. Rick remains confused when Louis asks him if Americans are prompt in keeping their appointments. Rick tells him that if the appointment is an important one, they never miss it. Rains says that it’s important – for he and Rick it means their necks. Everybody else in the room doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
A few seconds later, at the stroke of midnight, a salvo of heavy gunfire is heard. Renault steps over to the window and opens it. War ships are bombarding the harbor. The Germans rejoice. One says that the German navy will show this French swine a lesson, and show that they are the masters of the seas.
Renault says that it doesn’t look like the swastika on the flags of those ships. He hands his binoculars to German officers. The ships are flying the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack. The Germans start to run away, but Renault punches the one who called him swine right in the face, and orders Rick to take charge of the rest of them. He says he has to hurry out to the harbor and raise the white flag before too much more damage is done. Renault makes a comment about American punctuality as he goes out, and Rick herds the Germans back into the cells.
The next morning, American troops are being welcomed by happy locals. It’s a festive party at Rick’s Cafe, with Sam on the piano and the drinks free. Rains arrives with some American officers. He is dressed in a Free French uniform. Rick takes all of them up to his office. Where we learn, Rick was actually a secret American operative all along! He had been helping prepare the natives for the invasion. Neither Rick nor Renault knew that the other was working undercover.
The job finished, Rick is ready to return to the United States. Except, they tell him there’s another mission to do first. Renault had recommended him for the job. Rick kicks him under the table, Renault ignoring it and toasting his friend.
Rick shows up at headquarters the next morning, as promised. US lend-lease ships destined for Russia and Turkey are being sunk with regularity, even though the routes are consistently changed. Someone is tipping off the enemy. Evidence points to Tangiers as the center of the enemy ring.
Rick travels to Tangiers as having fled the now American-territory of Casablanca, because of his past record. Apparently with unlimited funds, he stays in fancy hotels and meets the international set, making new friends easily. He is not bothered that the American Consul and the diplomatic bunch don’t care for him. They do, however, join him in his rooms for high stakes gambling games. There’s no limit, and one of the consular officials gets in so deep, Rick forces him to give him some American visas, which he sells for outrageous prices. Later, we see that the buyers are either plants, or are arrested before they can use them. Rick makes sure his man-servant, Carlos, overhears his visa squeeze. He thinks Carlos is working for the Germans.
He’s right. Carlos tells the door man, who tells a taxi driver, who passes it on, until work makes its way to Maria, a beautiful Spanish woman. She has been educated in Germany and is a fanatical Franco fascist. She is a pawn in the espionage ring, and mistress of the German official, Count von Doren. He has diplomatic immunity and he is the secret head of the ring. Only Maria, the apparent leader, knows this.
Maria is suspicious of Rick and arranges to meet him. They do meet, and Rick realizes he’s playing with fire, while she does not under estimate him.
Ilsa is back in Casablanca. Laslo, his health ravaged by his desperate flights and stays in concentration camps (or murdered by a spy) is dead. She finds out from Sam where Rick is. Renault, knowing she can mess up his mission, implores her to stay in Casablanca. She knows he will try to stop her, so she disappears. He puts the word out to French and American intelligence to find her, gets a leave, and sets out to get her before she gets to Rick.
Rick has become Maria’s lover, though neither has seen through to the other. Van Doren needs a visa for someone and tells her to get one from Rick. He tells her that for a price, he’s always ready to serve a buyer. She doesn’t like that and he gets in a huff and asks what he wants from him. He makes no secret that he resents America. It never gave him anything, and a few wise guys are making all the money in this war. He’s not one of those to die for glory. Maria is convinced – she tells him that there is a way for a smart man to make a lot of money. He asks how, and she says she will tell him later.
Maria gives Van Doren the passport and tells them of Rick’s stance. They are suspicious, they test him several times, demanding visas, information, statistics, military movements, stuff. The US Intelligence Service prepares the information needed for Rick, and he passes it on to van Doren – for a price. The espionage ring accepts him, though they still have reservations. This reminds me a little of Bullets or Ballots.
Rick is now living with Maria, and he learns many of their secrets, connections, and methods of communications. But he can’t learn how they provide spotting information on cargo ships to German U-boats. He knows he’s in the group, but they are keeping an eye on him.
Deep in his mission, and with Maria truly in love with him, Bergman arrives in Tangiers. She finds Rick and knows she can’t be upset he is with Maria. She left him at the airport in Casablanca. And Rick can’t tell her it’s part of his mission. Once again, they’re caught in a web of circumstance, keeping them apart. Maria senses their past and is afraid of losing Rick. She’s tired of her life and begs Rick to quit. They both have lots of money. They can run away; to South America. Bogart, in love with Ilsa, feels like a heel.
Renault arrives in Tangiers and gets a job in Bogart’s place (PRESUMABLY HE’S GOT A PLACE LIKE RICK’S). Rick tells him there’s no time to be lost. Maria is about to blow the works and Ilsa’s arrival has him in a dilemma.
Van Doren is causing trouble. He had encouraged Maria to seduce Rick, but he hadn’t counted on her falling in love with him. His jealousy is increasingly embarrassing and she comes to despise him.
Rick is playing members of the ring against each other, and becoming a confidant to many of them. He provides passports and helps them escape. The organization is falling apart, but Rick still hasn’t discovered the most important thing.
Van Doren gets Ilsa’s dossier from the Third Reich and he discovers her extensive involvement with the underground. He’s certain that Rick is a spy. Maria warns Rick that Van Doren is on to him. She begs him to run away with her to South America. Bogart knows his game is up, but he carefully continues on, watching his every step.
By some pretext (or force), van Doren gets Ilsa to his apartment. He calls Rick and invites him over for a cocktail. Maria is with Rick. He declines, but van Doren insists. He says that he’s certain Rick will be eager to come when he knows who one of the other guests is. He puts Ilsa on the phone and she whispers “Don’t come!”
Maria sees that Rick is shaken. As he gets dressed, she sneaks out of the apartment. She goes to van Doren’s, and he’s pleased to see both of them there. He’s running the show. He leaves them alone together, certain they’ll have many things to say to each other.
They clash, but Ilsa breaks first, saying they both love the same man. How are they going to save him?
Maria promises if Bergman will step out of the picture – and Rick’s life – she will save Rick. And she’ll try to save her, too. Ilsa doesn’t care about her own life. She’s only concerned for Rick’s safety and happiness.
Maria swears that she loves him, she will find a way to save him, and do everything in the world to make him happy. Ilsa can’t see any other way to save Rick, so she agrees.
Van Doren comes back in and is surprised to find the two women friendly and getting along, not tearing into each other. He is moving closer to find out what’s going on when the phone rings: Rick is on his way up. Van Doren checks his pistol, ready.
Rick arrived in a car, not noticing that Renault had followed him. Rick steps into the apartment, Renault close behind him. The instant Rick steps in the room, Maria throws herself at him. A shot is heard. Van Doren falls to the floor, his gun smoking. Renault is standing in the doorway, gun out. He walks over and turns van Doren over. He killed him with a crack shot, just like Rick at the end of Casablanca.
Maria has crumpled in Rick’s arms. He realizes that she took the bullet for him. He carries her to the couch. She is dying and her last wish is to hear Rick say that he loves her. Rick looks at Ilsa, who, crying, nods her approval. He kisses her tenderly and she dies.
Renault is searching van Doren’s body and he finds the papers containing the information that Rick had been searching for. The espionage gang is totally broken.
The final scene is an American ship, steaming home, Rick and Ilsa finally together.
OK – First off, Brazzaville has NOTHING to do with this story. They don’t head off to the Free French garrison there. Why is that the name?
Got that off my chest. Moving on: Rick can’t have been secretly working for the good guys along. It totally throws out the redemption theme of the original movie. Rick wasn’t a cynical loner. He wasn’t brought back into the fight, by love. It was just an act. It totally changes the meaning of Casablanca.
The rest of the film is typical war time melodrama. George Raft could have starred in this, no problem.
Well, there you have it. Comments were made about the treatment at Warners, but I’ve never read that it got any further than that. Warners certainly never started the process to promote it, which was often done before scripts were written and parts cast. I’m gonna say it was for the best.
Michael Walsh did write an official sequel novel to Casablanca. It’s called As Time Goes By, I didn’t like what he did with the characters at all and never read it again.
I’ve written two short stories set around the events of the movie:
I think just watching Casablanca over and over is good enough. It’s that kind of movie.
His ‘The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes’ column ran every Monday morning at Black Gate from March, 2014 through March, 2017 (still making an occasional return appearance!).
He organized ‘Hither Came Conan,’ as well as Black Gate’s award-nominated ‘Discovering Robert E. Howard’ series.
He is a member of the Praed Street Irregulars, founded www.SolarPons.com (the only website dedicated to the ‘Sherlock Holmes of Praed Street’) and blogs about Holmes and other mystery matters at Almost Holmes.
He has contributed stories to The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories – Parts III, IV, V, VI and XXI.