Isenberg gives us the soup-to-nuts on Casablanca, dutifully making his way through script, casting, production and reception, to the inevitable squabbling over credit, all the while trying to account for its enduring popularity ... Casablanca fans will find it to be a treasure trove of facts and anecdotes.
We’ll Always Have Casablanca is less a history than a scrapbook: a digestible assembly of interesting facts, a few fresh quotes, ongoing controversies about who wrote which bits of dialogue, and tributes—from Simpsons parodies to Saturday Night Live sketches—meant to illustrate Casablanca’s lasting legacy. But as the 75th anniversary of Casablanca’s release arrives, Isenberg doesn’t seem to perceive the subtle but distinct transformation of the movie’s cachet over the past 10 or 15 years ... Certainly, Casablanca is a movie about political resistance, but it’s also a clarion call to cast aside isolationism and self-interest to fight on behalf of the invaded and oppressed. Although Isenberg doesn’t include interviews with conservative students who supported the Vietnam War, it’s not difficult to see how they might have interpreted the movie as an argument on behalf of their side.
Yes, much of what’s here has been published before, but along with the familiar and the trivial, he offers a lot that’s fresh and perceptive ... Beyond good dish, Isenberg makes some insightful contributions to Casablanca lore, too ... Isenberg’s discussions of the film, its stars, its production and its ongoing impact, often have the air of a panel session, with Isenberg moving things along as moderator...It’s frustrating, then, when this observant and astute author quotes others to cap a point...Had Isenberg let his own views prevail, the book would have a stronger authorial voice and a sharper focus.