“Mr. Rains?” There was no answer. The assistant knocked again. “Mr. Rains? I have a message from Mr. Wallis.”
“Read it to me,” said Rains from inside the dressing room.
“It’s sealed, Mr. Rains. The message is for you. From Mr. Wallis.”
“If Hal wants to give me a message he can come down and goddamned well give it to me himself. You go tell him that.”
“I can’t tell him that, sir.”
“Then fucking read it.”
The assistant swallowed. He opened the envelope. “Claude,” he read. “Stop being a goddamned baby. Bogart is bitching about having to wear lifts. Bergman complains about the script. Try to be a professional for once and maybe I’ll get you top billing on the next one. ––Hal.”
“Fine.” Rains opened the door. He stood elegantly smoking a cigarette, tie undone, dinner jacket unbuttoned. “Nobody cares about this stupid movie anyway.”
I couldn’t resist taking liberties with this week’s Pegman to write about the movie forever associated with this romantic place. Casablanca is always at the top the greatest movies list, but its production was so fraught with problems that nobody involved in making it thought it would amount to a hill of beans.
Bogart was still wholly unproven as a romantic lead and initially hated working with Ingrid Bergman, who was more than two inches taller than he. Bergman herself had no interest in Casablanca, wanting instead to get started on For Whom the Bell Tolls with Gary Cooper. Claude Rains, who had had starred in The Invisible Man, pouted at being relegated to third billing.
Worst of all, the script wasn’t finished until the last day of shooting, so none of the actors knew whether Rick would get on the plane or not.
Despite the friction and chaos (or maybe because of it), Casablanca enjoyed huge success and continues to be beloved by generations of movie buffs.