A Secret History of Casablanca

Chess grandmaster Jose Raul Capablanca (1890-1951) was the real-life model for Casablanca hero Rick Blaine. (Capablanca was the film’s original title.)

The chess theme was cut from the final shooting script, but Humphrey Bogart can still be seen puzzling over a chess board in his opening scenes. He also mutters “Checkmate!” after shooting Major Strasser in the film’s climactic sequence.

Other trivia tidbits from Casablanca:

  • Peter Lorre was originally cast as Rick. Bogart was brought in three days into shooting, after producers determined Lorre was too short to play opposite Ingrid Bergman. Lorre was given the role of Ugarte instead.
  • Dooley “Sam” Wilson was the real-life half-brother of jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong. Their father was the waiting-room pianist in a New Orleans dental clinic.
  • Bogart never actually says “Play it again, Sam.” The actual line was, “Pluck it again, Sam.” This chicken-preparation sequence in the kitchen of Rick’s Cafe was cut from the film after test audiences grew restless; the footage was lost in a 1952 studio fire.


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