Julius J. Epstein
Philip G. Epstein
Screenplay by Julius J. & Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch
Based on the play Everybody Comes to Rick's by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison
Some facts about the writing of the film:
• Julius J. & Philip G. Epstein were twin brothers who had separate Hollywood writing careers until they became a team in 1938.
Read a page from the screenplay of Casablanca.
• Howard Koch wrote the famous “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast that scared millions of Americans into leaving their homes, thinking the country was being attacked by Martians.
• 1940–Playwright Murray Burnett collaborates with Joan Alison on the play Everybody Comes to Rick's. The play is never produced.
• Dec. 8, 1941–Everybody Comes to Rick's arrives at the Warner Bros. Story Department.
• Jan. 6, 1942–Screenwriter Robert Buckner (whose credits include Jezebel and Yankee Doodle Dandy) sends a memo to producer Hal Wallis, expressing reservations about Warners' purchase of the play Everybody Comes to Rick's: “I might feel much freer in my opinions of this play, Everybody Comes to Rick's, if we hadn't paid such a sizable chunk of cash for it. Somebody must like it an awful lot and my criticisms will hardly be helpful to them. I do not like the play at all, Hal. I don't believe the story or the characters. Its main situations and the basic relations of the principals are completely censorable and messy, its big–moment is sheer hokum melodrama of the E. Phillips Oppenheim variety; and this guy Rick is two-parts Hemingway, one-part Scott Fitzgerald, and a dash of café Christ. Reading this back, I sound free enough, don't I?”–Warner Bros. archives
• Dec. 31, 1941–Producer Hal Wallis officially changes the title to Casablanca.
• The Epstein brothers finish their screenplay three days before the film begins shooting on May 25, 1942; Howard Koch completes his two weeks after shooting begins. All three writers were on call throughout the entire shooting period even though the Epsteins had been summoned to Washington to work on Frank Capra's Why We Fight documentary series. –IMDB
• The Epstein brothers and Howard Koch never worked in the same room at the same time during the writing of the script. –IMDB
• Julius Epstein: “It doesn't matter how serious a film is... the right kinds of laughs can work in any film!”
• Howard Koch: “When we began, we didn't have a finished script...Ingrid Bergman came to me and said, 'Which man should I love more...?' I said to her, 'I don't know... play them both evenly.' You see we didn't have an ending, so we didn't know what was going to happen!” –Hollywood Hotline, May 1995
• Howard Koch: “The ending of the film was in the air until the very end... I was working every day on the set... I think we never really had the ending for sure... We thought of many possibilities and finally decided on the one that was in the film. That has proven to be the ending that the audience accepts.” –Hollywood Hotline, May 1995
• Julius Epstein: “Warner had 75 writers under contract, and 75 of them tried to figure out an ending!” –Hollywood Hotline, May 1995
• Leslie Epstein (son of Philip): “The true story is that while driving down Sunset Boulevard, the twins came to the red light at Beverly Glen (the city of Beverly Hills has yet to put a plaque on the spot); while they were waiting, they turned to each other and with one voice cried out, 'Round up the usual suspects!'” –Interview with Leslie Epstein, the American Prospect
• A staunch supporter of the Screenwriters Guild and other motion picture industry unions, Julius Epstein was investigated during the communist scare of the 1950s. When asked if he had ever belonged to a subversive organization, he responded without hesitation: "Yes–Warner Brothers." –obits.com
• In the 1980s, this film's script was sent to readers at a number of major studios and production companies under its original title, Everybody Comes To Rick's. Some readers recognized the script but most did not. Many complained that the script was "not good enough" to make a decent movie. –IMDB