Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Casablanca's Alternate Ending...

Ever tell a joke so well people believe as fact? That's happened to me a few times since some of the jokes I tell I do so dead-panned. This is one I came up with that three acquaintances totally bought as real.

Several years ago in a film studies course we watched Casablanca over two days. This cute girl that always sat next to me was absent the second day, so I "collected" her homework and gave it to her when she came back to class. She asked about Casablanca as well as the famous ending of Rick (Humphrey "The Man" Bogart) urging his true love Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) to board her boyfriend's plane otherwise she'd regret it.

Joking, I told her about the "alternate ending" that was originally shot before the official one, where nazis storm Rick's club mowing everyone down with machine gun fire without any mercy (and thus murdering all the film's likable characters like Rick, Ilsa, Sam, Renault etc). I then went into detail of how the film's company, Warner Bros., showed the film with both endings to test audiences to see which one was better. Naturally the test audiences chose the happy, yet bittersweet, "beautiful friendship" over the downbeat, sad one.

I didn't think anything of it, she giggled at my joke and I thought that was that. Then when I saw her at class again she went off on how she rented the film to "catch up" with her homework and lamented (or perhaps was FRUSTRATED she couldn't find anything about the alternate, violent ending on the internet. Both the actual footage or any actual information about it. This was when I realized she thought my joke was true. I felt sorta bad and therefore didn't tell her it was just a joke.

A few years later I told the joke again, this time seeing if I can intentionally pass it off as fact, to yet another film buff who wasn't so easy to fool this time around. He said if there was a different ending shot, there'd be footage, production stills and all that, but I stressed that back in the 20s-40s of Hollywood, such deleted material usually went lost, didn't survive, burned in a studio fire or was destroyed by the studio execs themselves. I even brought up the "Lost Spider Pit Sequence" from the original King Kong and Lon Chaney's lost silent horror film, London After Midnight as examples. He then bought my story and so far I never told him I was joking.

Some friends who were in on the joke asked me what the alternate violent ending would've consisted of and I said it just had the nazis arriving at Rick's club (an exterior shot) and had them entering, armed with machine guns. We then hear a barrage of gun blasts and machine gun fire as that song Sam always played comes on the soundtrack as we fade into the end credits. The End.

So yeah, that's the bullshit alternate ending to Casablanca I always tell friends and fim novices alike. And they ALWAYS buy it!

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