One of the best-known facts about Casablanca is that it wasn’t the location for Michael Curtiz’s movie, all of which was shot inside the Warner Bros studio in Hollywood. Banking on a major hit and upset by the Marx Brothers filming A Night in Casablanca, Warner Bros even wanted to copyright the very name Casablanca – which could have been inconvenient for the city.
The film of course owes its enduring success to the romantic tension between Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, but at the time of its release it received a major publicity boost by the appearance of Casablanca and Morocco in the news. As the film was being completed, in November 1942, the Allies launched Operation Torch, landing 25,000 troops on the coast north and south of Casablanca, at Kenitra, Mohammedia and Safi. The troops, under General Eisenhower, consisted mainly of Americans, whom Roosevelt believed were less likely than the British to be fired on by the Vichy French colonial authorities. An even more fortunate coincidence took place in the week of the film’s première in Los Angeles in January 1943, as Churchill and Roosevelt had arranged an Allied leaders’ summit, and the newsreels revealed its location: the Casablanca Conference, held in Anfa, out beyond Aïn Diab. Such events – and the movie – are not, it has to be said, evoked by modern-day Casa, though the movie is commemorated in the city at the American-owned Rick’s Café.