A Night in Casablanca
Comedy | 85 mins | Released: 1946
Director: Archie Mayo
Starring: Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, Charles Drake, Lois Collier, Sig Ruman, Lisette Verea
Our Rating: 8
Black & White
A Night in Casablanca is 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.
A Hollywood legend claims that Warner Brothers, which produced Casablanca (1942), threatened to sue The Marx Brothers for using the word “Casablanca” in the title. Groucho Marx wrote a letter to Warner Brothers in which he threatened to sue them for using the word “Brothers”: “Professionally, we were brothers before they ever were.” However, film critic Richard Roeper claims (correctly) that the story is fake.
In fact, Warner Brothers never threatened to sue, but merely inquired about the story of the Marx Brothers’ film, to make sure there was no copyright infringement. Groucho used the inquiry as an excuse for a publicity stunt. He wrote a series of comic letters to Warner Brothers (in which he told the studio, “Professionally, we were brothers before you ever were.”) The letters were published in “The Saturday Evening Post” to publicize the movie.
This movie, A Night in Casablanca, introduced the song “Who’s Sorry Now?” to the movies, which became a bigger hit than the movie ever would.
Ronald Kornblow: “You know, I think you’re the most beautiful woman in the whole world.”Beatrice Rheiner: [eagerly] “Do you really?”Ronald Kornblow: “No, but I don’t mind lying if it’ll get me somewheres.”
All books are available on amazon.com. Click on title to order.
Monkey Business: The Lives and Legends of The Marx Brothers
by Simon Louvish
American Legends: The Marx Brothers
by Charles River Editors
The Marx Brothers Encyclopedia
by Glen Mitchell
The Annotated Marx Brothers: A Filmgoer’s Guide to In Jokes, Obscure
References and Sly Details
by Matthew Coaian