A Night in Casablanca
|A Night in Casablanca|
Theatrical release poster.
|Directed by||Archie Mayo|
|Produced by||David L. Loew|
Frank Tashlin (uncredited)
|Distributed by||United Artists|
Set in Casablanca shortly after World War II, escaped Nazi war criminal Heinrich Stubel (Sig Ruman) has steadily murdered three different managers of the Hotel Casablanca. Disguised as a Count Pfferman, Stubel's goal is to reclaim the stolen art treasures that he has hidden in the hotel. However, the only way he can do this undetected is by murdering the hotel's managers and running the hotel himself.
The newest manager of Hotel Casablanca is former motel proprietor Ronald Kornblow (Groucho), who is very much unaware that he has been hired because no one else will dare take the position. Inept Kornblow takes charge of the hotel, and eventually crosses paths with Corbaccio (Chico), owner of the Yellow Camel company, who appoints himself as Kornblow's bodyguard, aided and abetted by Stubel's valet Rusty (Harpo). In his many efforts to murder Kornblow, Stubel sends beautiful Beatrice Reiner (Lisette Verea) to romance the clueless manager.
Before Stubel can make his escape to the airfield with the loot, Kornblow, his friends, and Miss Reiner invade his hotel room and sneak from suitcase to closet and back again to unpack his bags, which serves to drive him thoroughly mad. Arrested on false charges, Kornblow, Corbaccio and Rusty eventually crash Stubel's plane into a police station where the brothers expose Stubel as an escaped Nazi.
- Groucho Marx as Ronald Kornblow
- Harpo Marx as Rusty
- Chico Marx as Corbaccio
- Charles Drake as Lieutenant Pierre Delmar
- Lois Collier as Annette
- Sig Ruman as Count Pfferman/Heinrich Stubel
- Lisette Verea as Beatrice Reiner
- Lewis L. Russell as Governor Galoux
- Dan Seymour as Prefect of Police Captain Brizzard
- Frederick Giermann as Kurt
- Harro Mellor as Emile
- David Hoffman as Spy
- Paul Harvey as Mr. Smythe
A popular myth (spread in part by Groucho himself) surrounding the movie is that the Marx Brothers were threatened with a lawsuit by Warner Bros. for the use of the word "Casablanca" in the title, it being an infringement on the company's rights to the 1942 film Casablanca. Groucho responded with a letter asserting that he and his siblings had use of the word "brothers" prior to the establishment of Warner Brothers (and many others had before that), and often the story is told that Groucho threatened a counter-suit based on this assertion. He also mentioned that he would consider further legal action by pointing out to Warners that the title of their current hit film Night and Day infringed on the titles of two Marx Brothers films: A Night at the Opera and A Day at the Races.
The true story is that the original storyline for the film was intended to be a direct parody of Casablanca, with the characters having similar-sounding names to the characters and actors in the 1942 film. Groucho Marx has said that an early draft named his character "Humphrey Bogus", a reference to the leading actor in Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart. Warner Bros. did not actually litigate, or even threaten to litigate, but it did issue a formal inquiry to the Marx Brothers concerning the plot and script of the film.
The Marx Brothers exploited the situation for publicity, making it appear to the public that a frivolous lawsuit was in the works, and Groucho sent several open letters to Warner Bros. to get newspaper coverage. These letters were among those he donated to the Library of Congress, and he reprinted them in his book The Groucho Letters, which he published in 1967.
In the end, the matter died without legal action, and the storyline of the film was changed to be a send-up of the genre rather than Casablanca specifically. Warner Bros. now owns the distribution rights to this film via Castle Hill Productions.
- Monkey Business: The Lives and Legends of the Marx Brothers (Hardcover) by Simon Louvish. Thomas Dunne Books; 1st U.S. edition (2000).
- A Night in Casablanca at snopes.com.
- Groucho Marx, The Groucho Letters: Letters From and To Groucho Marx (1967)
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