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Unoriginality done right

Here's my pitch: a Casablanca sequel, only not. It's the story of Rick and Captain Renault's "beautiful friendship." You don't make it explicitly a sequel, out of respect for the original, which is perfect. If anyone brings it up, you deny, deny, deny, deny. But, in a postmodern way, it's obvious. It's what might have happened. Your two characters have Rick and Renault's backstories, which aren't filled in all that completely in the first place. Unlucky-in-love American hardcase restored to his International Brigades idealism, Frenchman whose attack of conscience has blown his career as a raffishly bent copper. You cast them, make them up, and shoot them to match Bogart and Rains as closely as possible, though not so closely that you topple over into parody. We need Clooney for this, obviously. And somebody French, or somebody like Rains who can be more French than a Frenchman. Where'd all the white French leading men go?—maybe we use Charles Berling? Anyway, the characters don't have Rick and Renault's names, but then, Rick and Renault wouldn't be fighting under their real names anyway, would they? Hell, even in Casablanca we can't be sure either man is using the name that was on his birth certificate. So they have adventures. Fighting the Nazis. It's gold. But it's not a sequel. In fact, forget I ever said anything.


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Comments (21)

Suggested title: Après Brazzaville.


Jean Reno?

In lieu of Raines: Daniel Auteuil or (believe it or not) Johnny Depp.

Crid [CridComment@gmail]:

Some great critic –can't remember who– pointed out that for all its brilliance, there's a huge hole in the plot of C.: That this stunning, worldly-for-being-so-young woman is going to casually go & spend her life with whoever Rick wants her to, as if her heart was a tool in his hand.

It's still my favorite film. The lighting of Renault's face in the early office scene is itself worth an armload of Oscars.

But this criticism can make you look closely at other good love movies for similar cheats... E.g., in Four Weddings, why does Charlie –denied his soul's dearest wish– marry the conniving Henrietta instead of the adoring, wealthy, faithful, alluring Fiona?

Arc, babe... That's why. Or as Florence King once described this corner of the craft: "And then a bunch of stuff happens."

But half the appeal of Captain Renault's character was the polite, pleasant corruption, the fact that he was such a neat guy you could never be sure which side he was on (and you got the impression he was never sure either). That would be hard to maintain in a sequel, and without it you're left with "look how French this guy is!"

bill needle:

Chances are this is how Casablanca was developed in the first place.


Adam Sandler as Rick, and Jacques Demers as Renault.

Vic Ferrari:

I'm on board, so long as Eva Green plays the Ilsa character. And there should be full frontal nudity, it would be criminal if there wasn't.

Bertolucci is right, she is so beautiful it is indecent.

There's no Ilsa character onstage in Après Brazzaville. She got on the plane; her arc is extinguished. The thing about Casablanca is that the male relationships in the movie are all more interesting than anybody's with Ilsa.

The truth is, there is about a 99% chance that Ilsa and Laszlo's journey is going to end in a concentration camp. I would be tempted to start the non-sequel with "Rick" running across a copy of Combat and learning the bad news.

The Johnny Depp idea is really growing on me.

Vic Ferrari:

I would be tempted to start the non-sequel with "Ilsa" dancing across a courtyard naked.

Seriously. Watch Dreamers.

Crid [CridComment @ gmail]:

> so long as Eva Green plays the Ilsa

Too pouty, like a child of divorce. Ilsa thought her husband was dead by Nazis... But you didn't see her whining about it.

(You're right about the thundering dairy, though.)


If Ilsa and Laszlo are going to end up in a concentration camp, then it seems pretty obvious that you've got the makings of a Mel Gibson vehicle in this non-sequel. "The Nazis stole his lover... now it's payback time!"


You know, at first I thought that if you go with Depp, you can't use Clooney: the Bogart and Rains characters have to be about the same age. Then I checked their ages. Huh.

I'm no longer sure if Clooney is right. He's the only A-lister who could play a character that Bogart played (sort of; it's not a sequel) without looking downright ridiculous, but a friend of mine insists that basically that's an absurd, fatal restriction, because even Clooney is better suited to play the roguish Renault and everyone else in Hollywood is pretty much a girl now. Clive Owen has the roughness and magnetism but is far too good-looking and metro; Bogart was basically ugly (what one would call, in French, if he was a girl, une jolie laide.) Javier Bardem would be closer to the mark if he could shed the accent. I'm now officially depressed about the casting of a movie that will never be made.

Jack M:

Has been made. This is how Tarintino's Inglorious Basterds was pitched.

grey wall:

Danial Day Lewis in the Bogart role and Clooney as renault would work. or Depp. They're all about the same age.

grey wall:

Danial Day Lewis or Phillip Seymour Hoffman in the Bogart role and Clooney as renault would work. or Depp as renault. They're all about the same age and probably the only ones that could pull it off.

John Mansfield:

Unfortunately, the Humphrey Bogart role will go to Mark Wahlberg. In remakes, he's already done the roles of John Wayne, Charleton Heston, and Michael Caine.


I assumed this was your review of another Clooney movie I will never see, the good german...

PSH and Don Cheadle are good actors. Di Caprio as your shifty Renault.


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