Origin of “Round Up the Usual Suspects!” at End of Casablanca

(p. C5) David Thomson’s “Warner Bros: The Making of an American Movie Studio” is the latest in the exemplary Yale Jewish Lives series, which now stretches from Jacob the Patriarch to Jacob Wonskolasor, known to the world as Jack L. Warner (1892-1978).
. . .
Jack told Julie Garfinkle that “people are gonna find out you’re a Jew sooner or later, but better later.” Julie became John Garfield. I can’t resist adding that Jack approached Phil and Julie Epstein with the same advice. After turning him down they snuck into his office and stole a piece of stationery. To the newly arrived Don Taylor, a fellow Nittany Lion, they wrote, “All of us at Warner Bros are looking forward to your great career as an actor and to a long and fruitful relationship with you under your new name of Hyman Rabinowitz. Sincerely, Jack L. Warner.”
. . .
(p. C6) As this fine book progresses, Mr. Thomson turns his attention away from the brothers and their studio and onto individual actors and films. These form a remarkable series of critiques and vignettes–cranky, idiosyncratic, sometimes improbable, but always ingenious, and now and then inspiring.
. . .
Of course he has the most to say about “Casablanca,” much of it insightful and cogent. On the one hand, it’s an “adroit masquerade,” yet also part of what it was, and no less is, to be American: “Wry, fond of sentiment yet hardboiled, as if to say we’re Americans, we can take it and dish it out, we’re the best, tough and soft at the same time.” Thus did the qualities of this film, and others, pass “into the nervous system of the country,” making it what it remains to this day.
I am in a position to point out one of the few outright mistakes, not of judgment but of facts, in this book. Mr. Thomson naively accepts screenwriter Casey Robinson’s claim that he created the ending of “Casablanca.” The truth is that the ending was thought up at a red light on the corner of Sunset and Beverly Glen, when Phil and Julie turned to each other, as identical twins will, and cried out, “Round up the usual suspects!” By the time they reached Doheny they knew Maj. Strasser had to be shot and by the time they reached Burbank they knew who was going to get on the plane with whom.

For the full review, see:
Leslie Epstein. “The House That Jack Built; Warner Bros was the smartest, toughest studio, and Jack L. Warner its smart, tough driving wheel.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017): C5-C6.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date Aug. 4, 2017.)

The book under review, is:
Thomson, David. Warner Bros: The Making of an American Movie Studio. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017.

Ode to Physical Film Premieres on Digital Netflix

(p. C6) “Kodachrome” is based on an article that A.G. Sulzberger, who became the publisher of The New York Times this January, wrote in 2010. It concerned the international rush on Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kan., which became the world’s last processor of the discontinued color film Kodachrome.
But in a twist that may make camera buffs’ heads explode, the feature, directed by Mark Raso, arrives courtesy of Netflix, which bought the movie after it was made. Despite a credit noting that the movie was shot (to little effect) on 35-millimeter Kodak film, “Kodachrome” will mostly be seen on the streaming platform, whose current business model hastens the destruction of physical media.

For the full review, see:

BEN KENIGSBERG. “An Ode to Color Film, Now Streaming Near You.” The New York Times (Friday, April 20, 2018): C6.

(Note: the online version of the review has the date APRIL 19, 2018, and has the title “Review: ‘Kodachrome,’ an Ode to Color Film, Now Streaming Near You.”)

Mars Is Humanity’s “Backup Plan”

(p. C3) The stated goal of the U.S. Mars program is to create a permanent base there. That is difficult to imagine in the planet’s harsh environment, which was depicted with such stark realism in the 2015 film “The Martian.”
But there are possibilities on the planet for making bases more viable. Mars explorers could use natural lava tubes in extinct volcanoes to create an underground base shielded against harmful radiation. Underground deposits of ice discovered in recent years could be used for drinking water and to provide oxygen for breathing, as well as hydrogen for rocket fuel. In theory, astronauts could eventually establish agricultural stations to create a self-sustaining colony, using genetically modified plants that could thrive in a cold environment rich in carbon dioxide.
A new spirit of exploration and discovery is certainly part of the push for this new space age, but concerns about the future of the Earth are also a motive. There is a growing realization that life on the planet is extremely fragile, that killer asteroids, super volcanoes and ice ages have nearly extinguished life in the past, and that climate change may spin out of control. Even if the Earth remains habitable, we know that one day the sun itself will expire.
So the choice ultimately will be simple: Colonize outer space, or perish. We need an insurance policy, a backup plan. The dinosaurs didn’t have a space program. We may need ours to evade their fate.

For the full commentary, see:
Michio Kaku. “To the Moon, Mars and Beyond.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018): C3.
(Note: the online version of the commentary was updated Feb. 6, 2018, and has the title “SpaceX Rocket Launch Is Latest Step Toward the Moon, Mars and Beyond.”)

Kaku’s commentary is related to his book:
Kaku, Michio. The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny Beyond Earth. New York: Doubleday, 2018.

Russian Movie Director Bravely Criticizes Putin

(p. A8) MOSCOW — While shooting “Loveless,” an Oscar nominee this year for best foreign film, Andrey Zvyagintsev repeated virtually every scene again and again — 12 takes on average, according to his cinematographer, sometimes as many as 28.
The differences between takes often proved undetectable to others, said the cinematographer, Mikhail Krichman — even to the core crew that has worked on all five of his films. But the director sought some fleeting “magic.”
It might be several leaves fluttering off a tree in the background, Mr. Krichman said, or the angle at which snowflakes struck a window. “These kinds of things deliver the magic of the scene, and he uses them to decide to take it or not for the movie,” Mr. Krichman said of Mr. Zvyagintsev. “That makes him very different from other directors.”
. . .
His role as social critic, . . . , is another reason the art-house crowd tends to respect Mr. Zvyagintsev. He is one of the few high-profile artists still brave enough to openly criticize the Russian government.
He has disparaged the recent crackdown on the arts, including the house arrest of a prominent theater director and the use of censorship for the first time in years to ban a foreign movie, “The Death of Stalin.”
“We believed that in 1991 that we were present for the burial of the C.P.S.U.,” he said referring to the one-party state of the Soviet Union. “The burial did not take place. Instead, the corpse rose from the coffin and is walking around and frightening us once again.”

For the full story, see:
NEIL MacFARQUHAR. “A Master of Depicting Russia’s Underbelly on Film.” The New York Times (Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018): A8.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has a date of Feb. 23, 2018, and has the title “A Russian Master of the ‘Dark Side’ in Film.”)

“Reject the Dark Side: Free the Net!”

(p. C5) HEALY Matt, what’s a culture/politics tidbit most people don’t know?
FLEGENHEIMER Washington’s most prolific consumer of pop culture is very likely … Ted Cruz. Amateur “S.N.L.” historian, ’80s movie buff and instigator of a Twitter feud with Mark Hamill over net neutrality. He explained the meaning of “Star Wars” to Luke Skywalker. It was very Cruz: @HammillHimself Luke, I know Hollywood can be confusing, but it was Vader who supported govt power over everything said & done on the Internet. That’s why giant corps (Google, Facebook, Netflix) supported the FCC power grab of net neutrality. Reject the dark side: Free the net! Ted Cruz 12:25 PM – Dec 17, 2017
ROGERS ’80s movie buff?
FLEGENHEIMER “The Princess Bride”! Life on the campaign trail with Ted Cruz was basically months of “Princess Bride” imitations with an occasional discussion of Obamacare.

For the full commentary, see:
MATT FLEGENHEIMER and KATIE ROGERS. “‘S.N.L.’ Kimmel. Covfefe.” The New York Times (Weds., December 27, 2017): C1 & C5.
(Note: ellipsis, bold and caps, in original.).
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date DEC. 26, 2017, and has the title “Kimmel, Covfefe, ‘Wonder Woman’: Washington on Pop Culture in 2017.” The commentary/discussion is credited to Flegenheimer and Rogers, but Patrick Healy also participated. There are a few minor differences in how the print and online versions present the Cruz tweet. The quote above, follows the print version.)

Rising Hurricane Costs Due to More Rich People Choosing to Live on Coast

(p. A15) “An Inconvenient Truth” promoted the frightening narrative that higher temperatures mean more extreme weather, especially hurricanes. The movie poster showed a hurricane emerging from a smokestack. Mr. Gore appears to double down on this by declaring in the new film’s trailer: “Storms get stronger and more destructive. Watch the water splash off the city. This is global warming.”
This is misleading. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change–in its Fifth Assessment Report, published in 2013–found “low confidence” of increased hurricane activity to date because of global warming. Storms are causing more damage, but primarily because more wealthy people choose to live on the coast, not because of rising temperatures.
Even if tropical storms strengthen by 2100, their relative cost likely will decrease. In a 2012 article for the journal Nature Climate Change, researchers showed that hurricane damage now costs 0.04% of global gross domestic product. If climate change makes hurricanes stronger, absolute costs will double by 2100. But the world will also be much wealthier and less vulnerable, so the total damage is estimated at only 0.02% of global GDP.

For the full commentary, see:
Bjorn Lomborg. “Al Gore’s Climate Sequel Misses a Few Inconvenient Facts; Eleven years after his first climate-change film, he’s still trying to scare you into saving the world.” The Wall Street Journal (Fri., July 28, 2017): A15.
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date July 27, 2017.)

Disney Stories Give Happiness to the Poor

(p. 1B) If the arts community had been blossoming in north Omaha when Adrienne Brown-Norman was growing up there in the 1960s and ’70s, she may never have moved to California and become a senior illustrator for Disney Publishing Worldwide.
. . .
“Of course, though, I would not ever have met Floyd.”
That would be her husband, Floyd Norman, the now-legendary first African-American artist at Walt Disney Studios.
Floyd Norman, 82, began working for Disney in 1956 and was named a Disney Legend in 2007.
. . .
The Normans recently collaborated with legendary songwriter Richard Sherman (“Mary (p. 5B) Poppins”) on a picture book called “A Kiss Goodnight.”
The book tells the story of how the young Walt Disney was enchanted by fireworks and subsequently chose to send all of his Magic Kingdom guests home with a special kiss goodnight of skyrockets bursting overhead.
. . .
Walt Disney later picked Norman to join the team writing the script for “The Jungle Book.” Disney had seen Norman’s gags posted around the office and recognized a talented storyteller.
“I didn’t think I was a writer, but the old man did,” Norman said. “Then I realized that maybe I am good at this.”
Norman named “The Jungle Book” as his favorite project, because he worked alongside Disney.
. . .
“What I learned from the old man was the technique of storytelling and what made a movie work,” Norman said.
“I had an amazing opportunity to learn from the master. If you were in the room with Walt, it was for a reason. There are a lot of people who wanted to be in that room but didn’t get an invitation.”
. . .
One day at the studio the Normans recall pausing to watch the filming of “Saving Mr. Banks,” the story of Disney’s quest to acquire the rights to film “Mary Poppins.” Norman had worked on the movie and was interested in seeing Tom Hanks’ portrayal of his old boss.
“Tom Hanks rushed from his trailer in full costume to meet Floyd, shouting, ‘Where is that famous animator?’ ” Brown-Norman said. “You don’t expect a man like Tom Hanks to come running up. Then Tom wouldn’t let us leave. He wanted to know more about Walt, and if he was getting it right.”
. . .
“What I enjoy is the love of Disney that made so many people happy,” [Floyd Norman] said. “Maybe they were poor. Maybe they were in a bad home, but they tell me Disney stories gave them an escape. They gave them happiness, and that’s what I like.”

For the full story, see:

Kevin Cole. “Legendary Animator Spread Love of Disney.” Omaha World-Herald (Mon., Aug. 7, 2017): 1B & 5B.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed name, added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the title “During Native Omaha Days, Disney’s Floyd Norman and Adrienne Brown-Norman reflect on careers.”)

The book mentioned above, co-authored by Sherman (and illustrated by the Normans), is:
Sherman, Richard, and Brittany Rubiano. A Kiss Goodnight. Glendale, CA: Disney Editions, 2017.