If you heard a distinctive pounding noise coming from the general direction of Flavorwire HQ earlier this week, that was the sound of heads hitting desks when we got word that Warner Brothers is seriously contemplating the idea of turning out a sequel to Casablanca. At risk of sounding like drama queens, IS NOTHING SACRED?
Contrary to Conventional Hollywood Wisdom™, not every movie makes good sequel fodder. This may be a foreign notion in the land where brand is king, but sometimes a story told in a manner that is complete, with nowhere else to go and no reason to exist aside from generating easy money out of name recognition. And that goes double with the industry’s iconic classics — has anyone spent the past seventy years being nagged by all of Casablanca’s unanswered questions? We doubt it. But this is merely the latest of the great movies that some genius has proposed sequelizing; after the jump, we’ll take a closer look at Casablanca 2: Electric Bugaloo, and nine other proposed sequels that (thus far, thank God) haven’t happened.
Lou Lumenick at the New York Post broke the story of the proposed Casablanca sequel, in a detailed and fascinating piece that summarizes the multiple attempts over the ensuing decades to make a follow-up to Michael Curtiz’s classic. The first came shortly after the film’s original release; a treatment, titled Brazzaville (the Free French-held city mentioned by Ranault in the closing scene), was written by Frederic Stephani, and — in a perfect example of why a sequel to Casablanca is an awful, terrible, no-good idea — put forth the revelation that Rick and Renault had, ha ha, been secret Allied agents all along. Though Bogart was game, the studio disliked the treatment, Ingrid Bergman passed on the project, and it disappeared. Rick’s further adventures were instead chronicled in a pair of short-lived TV shows (one in the 1950s, another in 1983), but the sequel Warner Brothers is currently considering is based on a 1980 treatment by Howard Koch, who co-wrote the screenplay to the original film. According to Lumenick, Koch — who knew no one could ever take over the iconic roles played by Bogie and Bergman — proposed a story centered on their son, “conceived the night he renewed his affair with Ilsa in Casablanca,” who attempts to track down his disappeared father. Some have taken the project’s origination with Koch as a sign that the picture is worth making, but let’s be clear: good writers have bad ideas all the time. Hopefully Warners will learn the lessons of Return to Oz and Scarlet: leave the classics alone.