A thoroughly researched and frequently enlightening but somewhat ponderous tribute to a beloved classic.



A film scholar explores the legendary history and lasting appeal of Casablanca (1942).

Casablanca remains one of the most memorable films ever produced. A star-making vehicle for its two lead actors, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, it has served as a textbook example of how the studio system, in this case Warner Brothers, applied its best efforts and assets in producing a film of exceptional merit. As Isenberg (Screen Studies/The New School; Edgar G. Ulmer: A Filmmaker at the Margins, 2014, etc.) notes, the film required complex collaborations among several of Warner’s most talented writers, composers, set decorators, and cinematographers, and it featured iconic performances by popular contract players such as Claude Rains, Peter Lorre, and Sydney Greenstreet. The original source, an unproduced play titled Everyone Comes to Rick’s, didn’t appear destined for greatness when it sold to the studio in late 1941. Yet under the guidance of studio heads Jack Warner and Hal Wallis, and aligning with the timely events of a country about to enter the war, the prescient material would have an urgent appeal. “Thanks not only to the fortuitous timing of its release,” writes the author, “but also to the sly intermingling of history, politics, and fiction, Casablanca gave viewers the chance to reflect on the current state of the world…while also feeding their appetite for entertainment at the movies—larger-than-life characters, exotic backdrops, heart-wrenching romance, and plenty of glimpses of universally identifiable, basic humanity.” Isenberg has scrupulously researched the developmental details of the production, and he offers an interesting dissection of the legendary script contributions and in-depth background histories of the many bit players featured in the film. However, in focusing the latter portion of the book on the film’s continuing impact, he tends to broadly overstate his message, expansively recounting every film revival, TV and theatrical offshoot, parody, and just about every example where there has been occasion for reference over the last several years. These exhaustive details are likely to interest only the most die-hard fans of the film.

A thoroughly researched and frequently enlightening but somewhat ponderous tribute to a beloved classic.

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-393-24312-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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