So you can read my books

Friday, October 25, 2013


November is almost here. And so is NaNoWriMo –

which sounds like you trying to ask the dentist to get his pain-inflicting  fingers out of your mouth!

But now to my title.

Ask any screenwriter. 

From experience they know from their point (the start of the process)

to the film being released into cinemas, it takes about 18 months (for a decent movie at least).

The screen writing for TWILIGHT took only 6 weeks, but the filming and touching-up took roughly eight or nine months. 

Yes, I know. Earlier I said it took 18 months … but that was for a decent movie, remember?
And then there is CASABLANCA:

The start of production was on May 25.  

Filming was completed on August 3, and the production cost $1,039,000 ($75,000 over budget) - above average for the time. The film was shot in sequence, mainly because only the first half of the script was ready when filming began.

The film was a solid, if unspectacular, success in its initial run, rushed into release to take advantage of the publicity from the Allied invasion of North Africa a few weeks earlier.

 Despite a changing assortment of screenwriters frantically adapting an unstaged play and barely keeping ahead of production, and Bogart attempting his first romantic lead role,

Casablanca won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Its characters, dialogue, and music have become iconic, and the film has grown in popularity to the point that it now consistently ranks near the top of lists of the greatest films of all time.

The uncredited Casey Robinson assisted with three weeks of rewrites, including contributing the series of meetings between Rick and Ilsa in the café.

Koch highlighted the political and melodramatic elements, while Curtiz seems to have favored the romantic parts, insisting on retaining the Paris flashbacks.

Wallis wrote the final line ("Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.") after shooting had been completed. Bogart had to be called in a month after the end of filming to dub it.

Despite the many writers, the film has what Ebert describes as a "wonderfully unified and consistent" script.

 Koch later claimed it was the tension between his own approach and Curtiz's which accounted for this: "Surprisingly, these disparate approaches somehow meshed,

and perhaps it was partly this tug of war between Curtiz and me that gave the film a certain balance."

Julius Epstein would later note the screenplay contained "more corn than in the states of Kansas and Iowa combined. But when corn works, there's nothing better.”

My point?

All the writers CARED.  Yes, they needed to hit a WORD QUOTA                but THEY CARED about the quality of those words.

Quotations from Casablanca (1942)

Senor Ferrari: Might as well be frank, monsieur. It would take a miracle to get you out of Casablanca, and the Germans have outlawed miracles.

Captain Renault: I've often speculated why you don't return to America. Did you abscond with the church funds? Run off with a senator's wife? I like to think you killed a man. It's the Romantic in me.

Rick: It was a combination of all three.

[Ugarte sells exit visas]
Ugarte: You despise me, don't you?

Rick Blaine: If I gave you any thought I probably would.

Ugarte: Rick, think of all the poor devils who can't meet Renault's price. I get it for them for half. Is that so ... parasitic?

Rick Blaine: I don't mind a parasite. I object to a cut-rate one.

Renault: If Rick has the letters, he's much too smart to let you find them there.

Strasser: You give him credit for too much cleverness. My impression was that he's just another blundering American.

Renault: You mustn't underestimate American blundering. I was with them when they "blundered" into Berlin in 1918.

Renault: Carl, see that Major Strasser gets a good table, one close to the ladies.

Carl: I have already given him the best, knowing he is German and would take it anyway.

[Renault has ordered that Rick's close immediately]

Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?

Renault: I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here.

Employee of Rick's: [hands Renault money] Your winnings, sir.

Renault: Oh, thank you, very much. Everybody out at once!

Yvonne: Where were you last night?

Rick Blaine: That's so long ago, I don't remember.

Yvonne: Will I see you tonight?

Rick Blaine: I never make plans that far ahead.

Rick: Don't you sometimes wonder if it's worth all this? I mean what you're fighting for.

Victor Laszlo: You might as well question why we breathe. If we stop breathing, we'll die. If we stop fighting our enemies, the world will die.

Rick: Well, what of it? It'll be out of its misery.

Victor Laszlo: You know how you sound, Mr. Blaine? Like a man who's trying to convince himself of something he doesn't

believe in his heart.

Major Strasser: What is your nationality?

Rick Blaine: I'm a drunkard.

Capt. Louis Renault: That makes Rick a citizen of the world.

[Of Victor Lazlo, who wants to escape from Casablanca]
Capt. Louis Renault: No matter how clever he is, he still needs an exit visa . . . or should I say two?

Rick Blaine: Why two?

Capt. Louis Renault: He is traveling with a lady.

Rick Blaine: He'll take one.

Capt. Louis Renault: I think not. I have seen the lady.

Capt. Louis Renault: My dear Ricky, you overestimate the influence of the Gestapo. I don't interfere with them and they don't interfere with me. In Casablanca I am master of my fate! I am . . .

Police Officer: Major Strasser is here, sir!

Rick Blaine: You were saying?

Capt. Louis Renault: Excuse me.

Rick Blaine: I congratulate you.

Victor Lazlo: What for?

Rick Blaine: . . . your work.

Victor Lazlo: I try my best.

Rick Blaine: We all try. You succeed.

[When Sam doesn't want to play "As Time Goes By"]
Rick Blaine: Play it!

Rick Blaine to Ilsa: Who are you really? And what were you before? And what did you do? And what did you think?

Rick Blaine: Here's looking at you, kid.

[After observing the gambling tables at Rick's]
Customer: Are you sure this place is honest?
Carl: Honest? As honest as the day is long!

[As he goes to hand Renault a bribe]
Jay Brandel: Capt. Renault ... may I?

Capt. Louis Renault: Oh no! Not here please! Come to my office tomorrow morning. We'll do everything businesslike.

Jay Brandel: We'll be there at six!

Capt. Louis Renault: I'll be there at ten.

Rick Blaine: How can you close me up? On what grounds?

Capt. Louis Renault: I'm shocked ... shocked to find that gambling is going on in here.

[A croupier hands Renault a pile of money]
Croupier: Your winnings, sir.

Capt. Louis Renault: Oh, thank you ... very much. Everybody out at once!

Rick Blaine: Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.

Ilsa Lund: Kiss me. Kiss me as if it were the last time.

Rick Blaine: And remember, this gun is pointed right at your heart.
Capt. Louis Renault: That is my least vulnerable spot.

[After he watches Rick do the shooting, Renault gives orders to his police]
Capt. Louis Renault: Major Strasser has been shot. Round up the usual suspects.

[Last line]
Rick Blaine: Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

{Rick's Cafe Americain is in SECOND AVENUE SECOND HAND }

And don't forget my FREE  
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,293 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)


 Creole Knights by Roland Yeomans narrated by Charlie James


  1. Absolutely love CASABLANCA!
    If it was to be made today it would be bogged down in Rewrite Hell.

  2. I like people who can work under pressure. Deadlines are not for the faint of heart.

  3. DAVID:
    I love CASABLANCA as well -- as if you couldn't already tell! Yes, today, the script would have been rendered into hamburger!!

    Reasonable deadlines I can live with -- I do all the time as a rare blood courier -- it is trying to cram 3 months work into one needlessly that saddens me. :-)

  4. Casablanca had great timing, a patriotic outcome, and great actors. That helped as well as the script. It was an emotional subject.

    Thanks for the free download of Journey Lost. Much appreciated.

  5. D.G.:
    There were a few patriotic movies out at the time but the writing of CASABLANCA made it a classic. But I am in love with that movie -- I'm prejudiced. :-)

    I was happy to share with my friends! ;-)

  6. I love Casablanca!
    I think these witty exchanges are specific to a certain era. I remember other movies, with Katharine Hepburn for instance, with this type of dialogue. A pleasure to watch... :-)

  7. Vesper:
    Certainly witty dialogue was more prevalent in that era ... but witty dialogue still exists ... as in CON AIR when Poe says, "There's only 2 people in the world I trust. One of them is me. The other's not you."

    I think novel and script writers have just gotten lazy. Robert B. Parker wrote dazzling dialogue until the day he died in 2010.

    We share a love for CASABLANCA. :-)

  8. I never heard NaNo described that way. It seems rather appropriate.

    I don't think anything from NaNo will ever be on the same level as Casablanca. But of course, they aren't intended for the same purposes. NaNo is an exercise in discipline. While one of those novels won't be a masterpiece, the skill learned from writing it could be used someday to make something good.

  9. J E:
    I understand the need for discipline. Still a month filled with vomiting words out as fast as we can engrains destructive writing habits that, to me, negate the small blessings of teaching us discipline. Self-discipline must come from within not without or it will not stay.

    But that comes from a former English teacher, too. :-)

  10. I will agree to the iconic nature of the film and characters and words. Still don't want to watch it again.

  11. Joshua:
    No reason you should. For me, the wit of its dialogue is heightened by the fact that at the time of its creation, the Allies were losing WWII. It was a universal dread that the Nazis and the Japanese would win.