As Time Goes By: A Novel of Casablanca

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9780446519007: As Time Goes By: A Novel of Casablanca

A daring journey of adventure, courage & romance, traversing the world from Casablanca to Lisbon to New York to London to Prague & then Paris, expanding & intensifying the classic movie Casablanca.

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Review:

You know what happens right after Casablanca's Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) walks off with Capt. Louis Renault (Claude Rains) into the mist? This novel. Walsh, a former crime reporter and Time magazine music critic, can't equal the beautiful relationships in the classic film, but he does give us a clever takeoff on the tale, with less romance but much more action. As Time Goes By is both a prequel and a sequel, fleshing out Rick's mysterious life by flashing back to his 1930s New York gangland past and taking us with him, Ilsa, and Sam the piano man as they plot to kill Reinhard Heydrich, the Hangman of Prague. Rick Blaine started out as Yitzik Baline, who learned to shoot in the booze-fueled underworld of Tick-Tock Shapiro and Dion O'Hanlon. A fracas that made Walter Winchell's column explains why Rick wound up in the Casablanca gin joint. Ilsa undertakes to seduce Heydrich--chastely, if at all possible--and set him up for the kill. (He was the only top Nazi the Allies bumped off.)

Filled with real history and deductions from the flick, Walsh's book is much smarter than Scarlett: The Sequel to Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, but purists will prefer to revisit the 50th-anniversary video edition of the film, or read the excellent making-of book Round Up the Usual Suspects. If you crave more heresy, check out As Time Goes By, a novel by Humphrey Bogart's son. --Tim Appelo

From the Author:

NOTES ON WRITING AS TIME GOES BY

How did I write As Time Goes By? Simple question, tough answer.

The first part was easy. I rented a video of the Warner Bros. 1942 film classic and watched it. And watched it. And watched it again. Not to weep over Rick and Ilsa's lost love, nor to cheer for Rick and Louis Renault's sudden conversion to the Allied cause in the darkest days of World War II - but for clues. Clues, scattered thick around the script like antiaircraft flak. Clues to the nature of Rick and Ilsa and Louis and Victor Laszlo. Clues that, in most cases, the scriptwriters - there were seven of them in all - weren't even aware they were dropping.

I kept a notepad handy, jotting down observations and answers that might explain the movie's famous loose ends. Why can't Rick return to America? What is the nature of Victor Laszlo's underground activities? On the eve of Pearl Harbor, where is Laszlo really going when the plane takes off? Why doesn't Strasser just shoot Laszlo on sight? Where are Rick and Louis going at the end of the movie? (Surely not to Brazzaville, thousands of miles away.) Why is Rick, a humble saloon-keeper, so handy with a .45? Why, in fact, is he a saloon-keeper at all? And what about those infamous Letters of Transit, signed by General De Gaulle himself, which, as Ugarte (Peter Lorre) remarks, "cannot be rescinded - not even questioned"? Wy would the Germans honor travel documents endorsed by their archenemy In short, what's going on here?

That was for me to find out and, now, at last, for you to know.

This is where it got tricky. A Casablanca successor has long been the Holy Grail of sequels (even though As Time Goes By is neither a prequel nor a sequel, but a combination of both). Previous attempts to expand or rework the material have made the mistake of trying either to reprise the action in the same North African locale or to change the essential nature of the characters, or both. As early as 1943, Warner Bros. was planning a sequel called Brazzaville, written by Frederick Stephani. Stephani's scenario, which never got beyond the planning stage, supposed that Rick and Renault had been working for the underground all along, thus negating both Renault's political conversion and Rick's personal sacrifice - two of the plot elements that have made Casablanca so enduring.

In his own 1988 attempt at a sequel, Howard Koch, one of the original screenwriters, moved the action forward a generation, inventing an illegitimate son for Rick and Ilsa (never!), who returns to Morocco to try to learn what happened to his father. The 1955-56 television series Casablanca, which lasted seven months, trapped Rick Blaine in his Caf Americain forever "as a North African Mr. Fix-it," as Aljean Harmetz noted in her book Round Up the Usual Suspects Another. Another TV version, in 1983 starred David Soul as Rick; it lasted only three weeks. The shoals of Casablanca are dangerous waters indeed.

From the start, therefore it seemed to me the only way to approach the task was to treat the source with the utmost respect, rather in the manner of the Baker Street Irregulars examining the canon of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock HoImes stories. I posited that the people and events in the movie were all "true," and drew conclusions about Rick, llsa, and the rest of the gang from there.

After watching Casablanca at least fifty times, I then read every book on the subject that I could get my hands on, from Round Up the Usual Suspects to such obscure German-language publications as Wer war wer im dritten Reich (Who was who in the Third Reich), to get a better idea of the lineage of Major Strasser and his cohorts.

Almost immediately, the guiding principle of the novel became clear: to understand where the characters are going when Casablanca ends, I had to know who they were and where they had come from. As Time Goes By, then, had to be not merely a sequel to the movie, but a kind of frame around it: imagine the film elongated at either end to reveal the epic, wide-screen version, of which the events depicted in Casablanca are but the middle of the story.

Everything else flowed from this realization. Some of the questions had obvious answers. Since a hallmark of Rick Blaine is his cynical honesty, I chose to take at face value his answer to Captain Renault - "it was a combination of all three" - when the police captain grills him about why he cannot go home, and suggests embezzlement, a love affair, and murder. (The closest Major Strasser ever gets to the truth is "the reasons are unclear.") Victor Laszlo's real mission is so obvious from the hints dropped in the film that it is a wonder no one has ever noticed it before. When it comes to the De Gaulle letters, though, I gave up: after dozens of replays and freeze-frames of Peter Lorre's comment - "signed by General XXXXX himself" I still cannot tell whether he says "De Gaulle" (as is popularly supposed) or "Waygand" (as the screenplay has it). Maybe he says both. Don't even ask who General Waygand was.

In other words, all of the action of As Time Goes By, both front and back story, derives from statements or clues in the screenplay that, when examined, are the only logical explanation for what happens in the movie, Casablanca.

No one reading this book can fail to envision Humphrey Bogart as Rick, Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa, Paul Henreid as Laszlo, or Dooley Wilson as Sam. Accordingly, I have embraced the material's cinematic source, right down to incorporating selected dialogue from the script into the novel, partly in homage, partly from dramatic necessity, and partly to let the reader know that the author is in on the fun, too. Rick's bitter wisecracks, Laszlo's lofty pronouncements. Sam's wise empiricism, and Ilsa's passion and confusion all find their source in Casablanca.

One bit of film business I have incorporated is the incessant smoking and drinking of nearly all characters. In the movie, a cigarette or a drink appears in almost every scene, just as in As Time Goes By. We may look askance at behavior we regard as antisocial and self-destructive (Bogart died of the effects of alcohol and tobacco at age fifty-seven), but the social attitudes of half a century ago were very different and have been faithfully reflected here. Besides, the two-pack-a-day, three-martini-lunch generation not only overcame the Depression, but won World War II. How's that for political correctness!

A final word: although the action of the book takes place in the '30s and '40s, the novel is written in the late 1990s. Thus it was important to enlarge the scope of action for several of the characters, most notably Ilsa and Sam, while maintaining plausibility. Dramatically, Ilsa needs to be more than simply the object of desire and competition between Rick and Laszlo, but she cannot grab a Tommy gun and start shooting Nazis. Similarly, the spirit of Sam's dialogue, which in the original script verges on dialect, must be maintained, but there is no reason not to give him a far richer inner life than is apparent in Casablanca not to mention a considerable, indeed crucial, role in Rick's activities in the back story.

In the end, the reader will decide whether I haste succeeded in my attempt to breathe new life into the characters of the most beloved motion picture in fi1m history. My wish for As Time Goes By, though, is simple. When you are finished I want you to say: yes, now I understand. That's the way it was. And that's the only way it could have been.

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Book Description Book Condition: New. Ships From Canada. New. No dust jacket as issued. Sewn binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 420 p. Audience: General/trade. Book Description The most romantic and beloved film of all time ends on the tarmac of Casablanca-where this story begins.At long last comes the book that continues the story of Rick, Ilsa, Victor, Louis, Sam and even Sacha and Carl.the men and women of Casablanca. In a mesmerizing story filled with wartime adventure and intrigue, AS TIME GOES BY not only tells you what happened after Ilsa and Victor Laszlo left Casablanca, but takes you on a fascinating journey into the past as it answers all the questions you ever wanted to ask about Rick, Ilsa and Renault.Do Victor and Ilsa make it to America? Do Rick and Louis join the Free French garrison in Brazzaville? How did Rick meet Sam? How did Louis end up in Casablanca? Why can't Rick return to New York? And most of all.Will Rick and Ilsa ever see each other again? From sun-baked Casablanca to wart. Bookseller Inventory # 8615777579

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