This is the story of the making of the Bogart/Bergman film, Casablanca, but written in such a way as it draws a portrait of not just Hollywood but the United States in that place and time. It ain’t all pretty and some of it is poignant (the chapter on Hollywood refugees, many of whom were employed in the film, especially so). Harmetz uses Dooley Wilson to illuminate the early experiences of black actors in Hollywood and that ain’t pretty, either.
But it’s a fascinating story, with a lot of minutiae about the making of movies, which is fun. The chapter on censorship is hilarious; Renault’s line absolutely should have been “How extravagant you are — throwing away women like that. Someday they may be rationed.” The chapter on the score will make you want to go back and listen to the soundtrack with the picture off, and there is a lot of insight into the business side of things then compared with how they are today. A fun read, although I could have done with a bit more Bergman.
Author and founder of Storyknife.org.