The classic and much-loved romantic melodrama Casablanca (1942), always found on top-ten lists of films, is a masterful tale of two men vying for the same woman's love in a love triangle. The story of political and romantic espionage is set against the backdrop of the wartime conflict between democracy and totalitarianism. [The date given for the film is often given as either 1942 and 1943. That is because its limited premiere was in 1942, but the film did not play nationally, or in Los Angeles, until 1943.] With rich and smoky atmosphere, anti-Nazi propaganda, Max Steiner's superb musical score, suspense, unforgettable characters (supposedly 34 nationalities are included in its cast) and memorable lines of dialogue (e.g., "Here's lookin' at you, kid," and the inaccurately-quoted "Play it again, Sam"), it is one of the most popular, magical (and flawless) films of all time - focused on the themes of lost love, honor and duty, self-sacrifice and romance within a chaotic world. Woody Allen's Play It Again, Sam (1972) paid reverential homage to the film, as have the lesser films Cabo Blanco (1981) and Barb Wire (1996), and the animated Bugs Bunny short Carrotblanca (1995). The line "Play it again, Sam" appeared in the Marx Brothers' A Night in Casablanca (1946). Clips or references to the film have been used in Play It Again, Sam (1972), Brazil (1985), My Stepmother is an Alien (1988), and When Harry Met Sally (1989). Directed by the talented Hungarian-accented Michael Curtiz and shot almost entirely on studio sets, the film moves quickly through a surprisingly tightly constructed plot, even though the script was written from day to day as the filming progressed and no one knew how the film would end - who would use the two exit visas? [Would Ilsa, Rick's lover from a past romance in Paris, depart with him or leave with her husband Victor, the leader of the underground resistance movement?] And three weeks after shooting ended, producer Hal Wallis contributed the film's famous final line - delivered on a fog-shrouded runway. The sentimental story, originally structured as a one-set play, was based on an unproduced play entitled Everybody Comes to Rick's by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison - the film's original title. Its collaborative screenplay was mainly the result of the efforts of Julius J. and Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch. In all, six writers took the play's script, and with the models of Algiers (1938) and Only Angels Have Wings (1939) to follow, they transformed the romantic tale into this quintessential classic that samples almost every film genre. Except for the initial airport sequence, the entire studio-oriented film was shot in a Warner Bros. Hollywood/Burbank studio. Many other 40s stars were considered for the lead roles: Hedy Lamarr, Ann Sheridan, French actress Michele Morgan, and George Raft. [It's an 'urban legend' that Ronald Reagan was seriously considered for a role in the film. The Warner Bros. publicity office famously planted a pre-production press release in The Hollywood Reporter on January 5, 1942 (it was also released to dozens of newspapers across the country two days later), stating that Reagan would co-star with Ann Sheridan for the third time in Casablanca (1942) - in order to actually encourage support for the soon-to-be-released film Kings Row (1942) with the two stars.And pianist Sam's role (portrayed by "Dooley" Wilson - who was actually a drummer) was originally to be taken by a female (either Hazel Scott, Lena Horne, or Ella Fitzgerald). The lead male part went to Humphrey Bogart in his first romantic lead as the tough and cynical on-the-outside, morally-principled, sentimental on-the-inside cafe owner in Casablanca, Morocco.