Very recently, news began circulating that a follow-up to Casablanca was in the works, entitled Return To Casablanca. Any movie fan worth their salt has seen the original film; it’s flawless and it would be an incredibly tough act to produce a follow up. (Read my previous musings on Casablanca).
I got in touch with Return To Casablanca’s producer, Cass Warner (granddaughter of original Warner brother, Harry) and asked her about the project which she is working on through her Warner Sisters production company. It would appear that Return To Casablanca is something of a passion project for Cass Warner, a way of continuing her family’s heritage, delivering a film that will stand up to the family name. Quite simply, to entertain a new generation of film lovers while paying homage to the past.
Here’s a synopsis of the plot (via EW) for Return To Casablanca, which will be set in the 1960s:
“ Ilsa and Victor Laszlo (originally played by Ingrid Bergman and Paul Henreid) search for Rick (Humphrey Bogart) after he joins Free French forces opposing Nazi general Erwin Rommel in North Africa. It turns out that Ilsa gave birth to a son, and that Rick – not her husband Victor – was the father. That son, described in the treatment as a ‘handsome, tough-tender young man reminiscent of his father’ is now in his twenties, and his quest to find Rick is at the center of the new story.”
Warner informed me that there isn’t yet a script, but that the plan is to use a treatment written by the late Howard Koch, one of the original writers of Casablanca. She said that Ilsa and Rick wouldn’t be in the film (“If I could bring them back from the dead, they absolutely would be”), and (as per the above synopsis), “the current film idea revolves around the son of Ilsa & Rick, who is in his 20s”.
No director or cast has yet been signed but if it goes ahead it looks like Warner Bros. will be having a hand in hiring the talent – talent which I imagine will be top tier (perhaps current WB golden boy Ben Affleck might direct), after all Casablanca is one of the jewels in the studio’s crown.
As a fan of Casablanca, I asked Cass Warner what this new film would bring to the original and she gave me a reply which illustrates her desire to inspire and entertain a whole new generation:
“What I hope this film will bring to the original is an interest from our current generation of film viewers to fall in love with the original Casablanca. Loving classic storytelling and movies, this is a ploy on my part to bring back that type of storytelling.”
You can’t really argue with that.
Return To Casablanca sounds like a great companion piece, not a sequel or fortunately, just another remake. If it has a fraction of the charm of the original, then it could be a great movie.
Warner Sisters’ feature documentary on Dennis Hopper, called Hopper: In His Own Words is currently finishing production.
Keep reading Movies In Focus for more news on Return To Casablanca, as it develops.