We'll Always Have Casablanca

The Life, Legend, and Afterlife of Hollywood's Most Beloved Movie

Noah Isenberg (Author, New School)


For the 75th anniversary of its premiere—the incredible story of how Casablanca was made and why it remains the most beloved of Hollywood films.

Casablanca was first released in 1942, just two weeks after the city of Casablanca itself surrendered to American troops led by General Patton. Featuring a pitch-perfect screenplay, a classic soundtrack, and unforgettable performances by Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and a deep supporting cast, Casablanca was hailed in the New York Times as “a picture that makes the spine tingle and the heart take a leap.” The film won Oscars for best picture, best director, and best screenplay, and would go on to enjoy more revival screenings than any other movie in history. It became so firmly ensconced in the cultural imagination that, as Umberto Eco once said, Casablanca is “not one movie; it is ‘movies.’ ”

We’ll Always Have Casablanca is celebrated film historian Noah Isenberg’s rich account of this most beloved movie’s origins. Through extensive research and interviews with filmmakers, film critics, family members of the cast and crew, and diehard fans, Isenberg reveals the myths and realities behind Casablanca’s production, exploring the transformation of the unproduced stage play into the classic screenplay, the controversial casting decisions, the battles with Production Code censors, and the effect of the war’s progress on the movie’s reception. Isenberg particularly focuses on the central role refugees from Hitler’s Europe played in the production (nearly all of the actors and actresses cast in Casablanca were immigrants).

Finally, Isenberg turns to Casablanca’s long afterlife and the reasons it remains so revered. From the Marx Brothers’ 1946 spoof hit, A Night in Casablanca, to loving parodies in New Yorker cartoons, Saturday Night Live skits, and Simpsons episodes, Isenberg delves into the ways the movie has lodged itself in the American psyche.

Filled with fresh insights into Casablanca’s creation, production, and legacy, We’ll Always Have Casablanca is a magnificent account of what made the movie so popular and why it continues to dazzle audiences seventy-five years after its release.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • February 2017
  • ISBN 978-0-393-24312-3
  • 6.5 × 9.6 in / 336 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, Singapore and Malaysia, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Endorsements & Reviews

“[W]hether you’re a Casablanca devotee or just a film-history buff, the story of how the iconic movie got made and what the world made of it is downright fascinating, an absolute page-turner, even a kind of narrative nonfiction thriller.” — Booklist (starred review)

We’ll Always Have Casablanca is sparkling and effervescent, rich and gimlet-eyed, and, most of all, utterly addicting… Noah Isenberg’s superb book both expands our understanding of the movie’s history and place in our cultural history and reminds us, fervently, why we fell in love with it in the first place.” — Megan Abbott, author of You Will Know Me

“Noah Isenberg’s thoroughly researched and well-written book brings new perspectives to the one movie that is on every American’s playlist. This book is the perfect companion for the viewing experience.” — Jeanine Basinger, author of The Star Machine

“Immensely delightful and engaging, We’ll Always Have Casablanca pursues the story of the Moby Dick of movies with the passion, acumen, and dexterity of a seasoned historian in dazzling command of the narrative craft.” — Yunte Huang, author of Charlie Chan

“Here’s looking at you, Noah Isenberg! Never has Casablanca and the world it remakes with every screening been better loved, more meticulously illuminated, or more globally needed. We’ll Always Have Casablanca reminds us that freedom begins anew each time we put ourselves aside and join the fight.” — David Michaelis, author of Schulz and Peanuts

“Far more than a nostalgic journey, We’ll Always Have Casablanca makes clear how Casablanca’s themes of war and exile and romantic self-sacrifice distilled the brutal realities of 1942, and mirrored the personal experiences of many of the film’s makers, to create an entertainment of profound and enduring emotional resonance.” — Geoffrey O'Brien, author of Sonata for Jukebox

“Somehow both scholarly and sprightly, Noah Isenberg’s prismatic portrait of Casablanca manages to inform even as it delights. This rigorous, rollicking book shows us the ways that familiar tale has continued to shift in meaning and expand in scope as time goes by.” — Dana Stevens, Slate film critic

“This is it! Casablanca, the whole thing. With equanimity, grace, and delectable insight, Noah Isenberg has untangled the intricate, often contentious collaboration that flowered into America’s favorite movie. I bet even the die-hardest Casablanca fan will find in this delightful book new ways to love the movie they were certain they could never love more.” — Sam Wasson, author of Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.

All Subjects