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“Casablanca” Turns 80: Here’s Looking at You, Kid!

When “Casablanca” was released in 1942, no one expected it would stand out among the hundreds of films churned out by Hollywood yearly, let alone achieve the iconic status it has.  The film did reasonably well at the box office, but it wasn’t until it won the Academy Award for Best Picture that people began to take it seriously.  Over the decades, “Casablanca” has earned an enduring place in movie-lovers’ hearts, with its star-studded leading players, supporting cast of popular ‘40s character actors, memorable dialogue, and iconic theme song, “As Time Goes By.”  “Casablanca” regularly makes it to the top of the lists of the most popular movies of all time, and was one of the first films nominated by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry.  It remains a personal favorite, and I never miss an opportunity to watch.

Based on the play “Everybody Comes to Rick’s”, Warner brothers paid a record $20,000 for the movie rights (roughly $300K in today’s currency), and hired writing team brothers Julius and Philip G. Epstein to adapt it for the screen, tapping Michael Curtiz to direct.  Warner acquired the property in January of 1942, principal photography began in late May and wrapped by early August, filmed on the backlot in Burbank, California.  Originally set for an early 1943 release, “Casablanca” was rushed into production in the fall of 1942 to take advantage of the publicity from the contemporaneous Allied invasion of North Africa, where the film is set.  Its world premiere occurred in New York City on 26 November 1942.

They couldn’t have picked a better date.  Surely Fate had a hand in its release, for the film has lived up to its celestial potential, and then some!

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The heat between stars Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman immediately propelled “Casablanca” into its status as a classic romance; reflected in the Sun conjunct Venus and opposed asteroid Casablanca

The accelerated release date produced a 3 Sagittarius Sun opposing asteroid Casablanca at 5 Gemini, offering maximum illumination, as in a Full Moon position.  With the Sun are Mercury at 1 Sagittarius, a nod to the writing team which would win through to Oscar gold, and Venus at 6 Sagittarius, identifying “Casablanca” as essentially a romance.  Conjoined Casablanca are Saturn at 9 Gemini, suggesting the film’s longevity, and Uranus at 2 Gemini, depicting the exotic setting and establishing the eclectic mix of characters, representing Americans, French, Germans, English, Moroccans, Arabs, Dutch, Bulgarians and Russians, all ex-pats and refugees, another Uranian theme.  This wasn’t just cinematic overlay, either – only three of the credited actors were born in the US, for a truly international flair.

This basic Sun/Casablanca polarity is bisected by asteroid Oskar at 4 Leo (for the gold statuette handed out at the Academy Awards), trine the Sun and sextile Casablanca, an indicator of the film’s subsequent peer acknowledgment.  Oskar reaches out to other winners associated with the production, in a T-Square with asteroid Michel at 2 Scorpio and asteroid Curtis at 0 Aquarius, for director Michael Curtiz.  The Epsteins, Julius and Philip, who wrote the screenplay in tandem with Howard Koch, appear as asteroids Philippa (for Philip), conjoined Oskar from 11 Leo; Julia (for Julius), in square from 9 Scorpio; and Epstein, in an out-of-Sign wide square from 28 Aries.

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Sydney Greenstreet (British), Paul Henreid (Austrian) and Ingrid Bergman (Swedish) are just a few of the international cast for the film, which featured only three credited actors who were born in the US; Casablanca conjunct Uranus accounts for the eclectic mix and the focus on expats and refugees

The love triangle that dominates the film is seen in a nifty little conjunction of asteroid Richard (for Humphrey Bogart’s character of Richard “Rick” Blaine), exact with asteroid Ilse (for Ingrid Bergman’s character of Ilsa Lund) at 2 Scorpio, with hubby Victor Laszlo (portrayed by Paul Henreid) represented by asteroid Viktorov at 8 Scorpio, still within orb of conjunction, but definitely odd-man-out in this affaire de coeur.

Asteroid Academia (for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, which sponsors the awards) also promises clues to upcoming accolades.  At 20 Leo, Academia conjoins asteroid Kurti at 22 Leo, another referent for director Curtiz, and squares asteroid Koch at 25 Taurus, for the third writing partner, later sharing Best Screenplay with the Epsteins, Howard Koch.  Humphrey Bogart, nominated as Best Actor, had a double shot at Oscar gold, with asteroid Humphreys opposed Academia from 26 Aquarius, and asteroid Bogard broadly opposed from 29 Scorpio (as well as trine Oscar, and also conjoined the film’s Sun), but ultimately lost to Paul Lukas for “Watch on the Rhine”.

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Everybody comes to Rick’s – I know I do, and I keep coming back! Humphrey Bogart’s hyper-identification with the film can be seen in asteroid Bogard conjunct the Sun, opposed Casablanca

Although the premiere had been in November of ’42, general release wasn’t until January of ’43, and the Academy in its wisdom decreed that “Casablanca” should be judged against films from the latter year.  Yet as time went by, so to speak, the film grew in popularity, and the heavens rearranged themselves to promote its natal potential.  Much like the refugees in the film’s opening sequence, who are eagerly anticipating their hour of deliverance, those seeking honors for “Casablanca” were forced to wait.  And wait.  And wait.

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German-born Conrad Veidt (left) and Brit lad Claude Rains (right) played the “heavies” in “Casablanca“, officials of the Third Reich and its ally, Vichy France, determined to prevent Bergman and Henreid from leaving the city

And so it was that at the 16th Annual Academy Awards ceremony, held 2 March 1944, asteroid Casablanca appears at 20 Leo, conjunct fame-inducer and good-outcome-provider Jupiter at 19 Leo, on the fulcrum of a T-Square with asteroids Academia at 25 Scorpio and Victoria, named for the Roman goddess of victory, at 22 Taurus.  Casablanca also trined asteroid Oskar at 23 Sagittarius, and the film’s director is trebly christened victorious, with Oskar conjunct Kurti at 27 Sagittarius, Curtis conjunct Victoria at 24 Taurus, and Kurtz at 5 Aries conjunct asteroid Nike, named for Victoria’s Greek counterpart, at 2 Aries.

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Director Michael Curtiz (right) discusses plot points with his stars; the Hungarian-born Curtiz seems fated for Oscar gold from his “Casablanca” stint, with asteroids Curtis and Michel in a T-Square with asteroid Oskar in the film’s natal chart, and asteroid Casablanca opposed Oskar in his nativity

Nike also forms the Apex of a Yod, or Finger of Destiny, conjoining asteroid Howard at 0 Aries, with inconjunct aspects to asteroids Koch at 7 Virgo and Philippa at 7 Scorpio.  Asteroid Epstein at 7 Leo is in trine to Nike, with asteroid Julia at 2 Pisces in exact semisextile, binding all PNAs (Personal-Named Asteroids) for all three writers with the principle of winning.

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Dooley Wilson was a drummer, singer and band leader in the 1920s, but is best remembered for his rendition of “Casablanca“‘s theme song, “As Time Goes By”

Casablanca” strongly influenced the lives and careers of its most notable players and director, with its eponymous asteroid appearing in significant aspect in their nativities.  Humphrey Bogart (born 25 December 1899, no time available) has Casablanca at 7 Scorpio, opposing asteroid Richard, his character in the film, at 5 Taurus, and these are respectively sextile and trine his 3 Capricorn Sun.  PNAs for actor’s roles which appear in connection with the Sun allow for genuine, authentic performances which are often admired and become iconic, and here we see not only the character, but the vehicle which proffered it.  Ingrid Bergman (born 3:30 AM MET on 29 August 1915 in Stockholm, Sweden – Rodden Rating AA) has Casablanca at 8 Leo in square to the 4 Taurus Midheaven, ruling career, and semisquare to asteroid Ingrid at 24 Virgo, sesquiquadrate asteroid Humphreys with Jupiter at 22 and 25 Pisces.  For both actors, “Casablanca” evoked defining roles in their careers.

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Fraternal writing team Julius and Philip Epstein are also tapped into “Casablanca“‘s Oscar potential, with asteroid Philippa conjunct Oskar and asteroids Julia and Epstein in square

Michael Curtiz (born 9 PM LMT on 25 December 1886 in Budapest, Hungary – Rodden Rating AA) has Casablanca at 24 Gemini opposed asteroid Oskar at 20 Sagittarius.  Nominated as Best Director four times, “Casablanca” was his last, and only winning, nomination in that category.

I’ve viewed “Casablanca” more than two dozen times, and each time I do, I find another hidden gem, in a muttered aside, a stolen glance, a bit of business or lighting, a background shot.  It was one of the first classic films I ever saw, and for me, the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

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One of my favorite character actors from the period is Hungarian-born S. Z. “Cuddles” Sakall, who plays head waiter Carl; old movie buffs will also recognize him as the restaurateur Felix in the Barbara Stanwyck holiday vehicle “Christmas in Connecticut” (where he again teams with Sydney Greenstreet)

Alex Miller is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book, detailing deep space points in astrological interpretation, and the forthcoming Heaven on Earth, a comprehensive study of asteroids, both mythic and personal. Alex is a frequent contributor to “The Mountain Astrologer”, “Daykeeper Journal”, and NCGR’s Journals and “Enews Commentary”; his work has also appeared in “Aspects” magazine, “Dell Horoscope”, “Planetwaves”, “Neptune Café” and “Sasstrology.” He is a past president of Philadelphia Astrological Society, and a former board member for the Philadelphia Chapter of NCGR.

2 comments, add yours.

Robin R.

Thank you, Alex! Casablanca is one of my most favorite films. No wonder–the asteroid Casablanca conjoins my natal Uranus, Ascendant, Venus, and Saturn in Gemini. Also squares my Mars in Pisces; it tugs at my Piscean heartstrings and brings tears to my eyes. I love this film! It’s always fascinating. I will be 80 in April ’23.

Laurien

Beautiful! I found the Sun-Bogard conjunction opposite Casablanca and the Richard-Ilse conjunction especially mind-blowing. Thanks for this tribute to a great movie, Alex!

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