Talkback: Who's Down For A 'Casablanca 2'?
Steel yourself, cinephiles: A sequel to the 1942 classic Casablanca, one of the greatest films of all time, could happen in the near future. But while practically 99 percent of all Hollywood sequels and spin-offs seem like cash-grabs that have no good reason for existing, is there a case to be made for revisiting the saga of star-crossed lovers Rick and Ilsa in Casablanca 2?
Consider the source of said would-be sequel, per the New York Post: Original Casablanca screenwriter Howard Koch, who shared the Oscar for Best Writing with fellow scribes Julius J. Epstein and Philip G. Epstein. Blacklisted a few years after Casablanca became a hit, Koch penned a sequel in 1980 revolving around the grown son of Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) and Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman), who goes searching for his father in the Middle East.
Unearthed by The Post's Lou Lumenick, Koch's 1960s-set Return to Casablanca synopsis goes a little something like this:
"[Laszlo and Ilsa] attempt 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.
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."
Richard becomes involved with an Arab guerilla fighter named Joan as he searches out the truth of his father's fate in the script, which Warner Bros. passed on in 1989. Producer Cass Warner, grand-niece of Jack Warner, took up Koch's cause and brought it back to the studio, who turned it down again - but, she says, left open a window of opportunity.
“Warner Bros. passed on it a year, a year and a half ago,” Warner told The Post. “But they indicated they were willing to revisit this if I could find a filmmaker they were interested in working with.”
And who in young Hollywood could play the son of Rick and Ilsa today? Let Casablanca expert Aljean Harmetz weigh in: “Certainly not Robert Pattinson, though maybe that guy who’s popping up everywhere, Joseph Gordon-Levitt.”
But seriously, as perfect as Casablanca's wonderfully ambiguous, utterly romantic unhappy ending is, don't we all wonder what became of Rick and Ilsa? (And their respective chosen life partners, Laszlo and Renault?) A part of me loves the idea of finding out that they waited out the war and found their way back to one another again, the way we always hoped deep down inside that they would, pulled by that invisible thread that time, place, and violent world-changing upheaval couldn't sever.
Or maybe, probably, that wouldn't be nearly as satisfying as it sounds now. How would you like to see a Casablanca follow-up unfold, if at all?